A salute to Military spouses, featuring Alecia Laudisio

With the holidays approaching, and my Dad (literally) on his way home for two weeks I can’t help but feel a pit in my stomach for all the other people who don’t get their loved one home over the holiday (my Dad is using an R&R to visit home for the holidays).  Through this blog I have been exposed to an entire community that I knew existed but never saw myself being a part of.  I am not a military spouse, just a daughter dealing with a year long civilian deployment of my Father.  However, between the blog and the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared, I know that I am more patriotic than ever and somehow feel connected within a community.

My Military Infographic post was probably one of my favorites, so I’ve decided to recreate it to salute Military spouses.  I’ve also interviewed a great girl, Alecia who is struggling to deal with her boyfriend’s absence, and included some of my favorite pieces of advice from the wonderful ladies I follow and share with you on my blogroll.

Here’s a run down of my favorite Military spouse facts:

Infographic-Miitary Spouses

Infographic-Miitary Spouses

  •  80% of Military Wives are under the age of 35.  The average female age of marriage in the U.S. is 27, in 2011.
  • 5% of Military spouses are men.  I love this stat so much.  So many times Military spouses are assumed to be women, I just love that there’s a percentage of strong men who are supportive and proud of their wives and the career path they chose for themselves.
  • 3,000+ Military spouses have been widowed since the beginning of the War on Terror in 2001.
  • 85% of Military spouses want/need to work, 26% of them are unemployed.  This seems to be the biggest issue in Military spouses.  Due to frequent moving, too many obligations with children, and the employer having a larger interest in the soon to be home serviceman or woman, it is very difficult for Military spouses to find work.
  • Military families move over state lines 2.4 more times than the average American family, that’s two to three times a year.
  • 56% of active duty members are currently married.
  • 900,000 children across America have experienced the deployment of either one, or both parents, multiple times.
  • In 2011, the divorce rate of all Services’ peaked at only a little over 3.5%, which means Military divorces make up 0.0175%  out of the 50% divorce rate in America.

 

 

 

  • My first recommended blog, and post for that matter is Deployment Divas, Jessica Aycock reviews here her best possible way to coach fellow Military spouses through deployment.
DeploymentDivas.com

DeploymentDivas.com

  • The next blog is Daily Dwelling.  Monica’s entire blog is resourceful, helpful, and great advice.
DailyDwelling.com

DailyDwelling.com

  • The last blog I’m going to share is Real Warriors.  This blog will remind you that no matter the pain your feeling about missing someone you love, what they’re doing is much bigger than how you’re feeling.  It’s truly a great blog to learn about great stories and ways to help active duty members and vets.
Real Warriors

RealWarriors.net

 

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Nick Turdo opens up about having a Father in Afghanistan

Since I’ve started this blog I’ve been very open about how I feel about my fathers absence in the last 5 months.  For this post I thought I’d ask someone who was raised in the same house, the same way, and is dealing with similar emotions for the same person.  My brother, Nick, agreed to sit for an interview to speak on the situation from a much different vantage point.  Though the answers are what you’d expect, they mean much more giving that emotions don’t flow as freely from this Turdo.

U.S. Military Statistics as an Inforgraphic

There are numbers we hear everyday about our troops.  How many are coming home, how many have to stay, how many kids will spend Christmas without a parent.  In this infographic I’ve created, I narrowed down what I found to be some of the most vital, shocking, and overlooked statistics about the U.S. Military.  We hear these numbers all the time, but sometimes we need to see them to really understand them.

  • Thank Your Veterans: There are currently 22.3 million veterans living in the United States.  California takes the number one spot with over 2 million.  (Department of Veteran Affairs)
  • Deployment Overseas: At the height of deployment in the middle east, over 300,000 soldiers were overseas.  Deployments have ranged from a high of over 1 million, to a low of only 200,000 in 1999.  (The Heritage Foundation)
  • Where they’ve been: There are roughly 200 countries in the world.  50 of them have been a home at one point to over 1,000 of our brave men and women.  (World Atlas)
  • Who are they: As if enlisting and shipping out isn’t brave enough, servicewomen take it a step further facing a 7:1 ratio.  Girl power. (United States Census)
  • At Your Service: Currently deployed, the U.S. Army takes the lead at 39%.  Air Force 24%, Navy 23%, Marine Corps 14%
  • Awaiting Homecoming: 31% of Marines, and almost half of the servicemen and women enlisted in the Army, Navy, and Air Force are parents.  (Military One Source; Department of Defense)

 

Military Infographic

Military Infographic

 

Philadelphia Eagles: Salute to Service

Throughout November, the NFL honors Veterans Day with 32 ‘salute to service’ games across the league.  For every point scored during one of these games the NFL donates $100 to the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO, and the Wounded Warrior Project.  The league donated around $800,000 during it’s first year of the program last year.

On November 17th, I was in attendance for the Philadelphia Eagles’ Salute to Service game agains the Washington Redskins.

Me standing with an actual U.S. Army Jeep on the main level of Lincoln Financial Field

Me standing with an actual U.S. Army Jeep on the main level of Lincoln Financial Field

The game began with five military members leading the team onto the field while holding their branch’s flag.  The national Anthem was sung by Generald Wilson, a retired Navy officer.  The Marines Silent Drill Platoon put on an amazing half time show, along with many recognitions and dedications throughout the game.

The Salute to Service was shown at breaks in every play.

The Salute to Service was shown at breaks in every play.

The Marines Silent Drill Platoon during their halftime show.

The Marines Silent Drill Platoon during their halftime show.

Philadelphia is known for their tough and passionate fans, this event was special to me for obvious reasons; yet it touched me due to the amount of respect that was shown for those being honored on this day.  No matter the circumstance, American’s are always proud and grateful for everything our Service women and men do for us.  It was amazing to see a city come together and appreciate what our country has.

The Eagles beat the Redskins 24-16, putting the donations just above $4,000.

 

SportsCenter Veteran’s Day Montage

With Veteran’s Day landing on a Monday, and me stuck at work behind a bar for 11 hours, there wasn’t much celebrating, or posting I could do.  It was around noon that I switched all the TV’s to ESPN’s daily broadcast of SportsCenter.  As the topics switched on the status bar on the left, I saw a topic I knew would be hitting me hard quickly approaching.  It was entitled “Coming Home”, a video montage of everything that makes me cry; sports, dads, homecomings, and little girls.

Military Support Group of New Jersey

On Thursday October 10, I attended a support group in Blackwood, NJ for family members with loved ones away, veterans, and supporters.  When I walked into the American Legion Stetser-Lamartine Post 281 in Blackwood, NJ, I had no idea what I was about to encounter.

The Military Support Group of NJ is an organization that is ran by Rowan Alumn Karen Jennings, a Marine Mom that withstood the heartache of her son serving 3 times overseas with little communication each time.  She felt alone, and knew there were others that felt the same.  She decided to pour her heart and soul into the organization, making it what it is today.

Upon her arrival, Karen was bombarded with gift baskets, packaged goods, canned food, and toiletries all to be organized and sent off to their respective bases to go out to the men who need them the most.  “When you’re in the middle east a pop tart can taste like a steak”, I listened as Karen explained to me the methods and decision making behind care packages.  My favorite tip: never mix toiletries and food.  No one wants deodorant flavored mashed potatoes.

IMG_2897

Post 281

Post 281

IMG_2896 IMG_2894

Items being organized for care packages.

Items being organized for care packages.

 

I highly encourage anyone in the area that is struggling or just interested in helping or meeting people with similar interests to attend the meetings and introduce yourself to these welcoming, wonderful people.

 

 

Government shutdown leaves fallen soldiers’ families with empty pockets

The U.S. Government shutdown has raised many questions for military families.  Along with the shutdown came the ‘Pay Our Military Act’, implemented on the first of the month, the act promises active military members on duty to still receive ‘pay and allowances’.

What the Act does not cover is the transportation of four American soldiers’ bodies back to the Dover, Delaware Air Force Base.  This, along with a $100,000 death gratuity to the soldiers’ families, is a fee that the Pentagon would normally cover, however with the shutdown still in affect, this is a fee that has been post-poned.

1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25 Photo Credit: WSJ, U.S. Army

1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25
Photo Credit: WSJ, U.S. Army

The families of the four soldiers’ have agreed to travel to the Dover base to meet their fallen loved ones, thanks to the Army Ranger Fund willing to pay expenses.  There has been no statement made on whether or not travel expenses will be covered for the families.  Once the government shutdown has ended, the death gratuities will be given to the families, and perhaps a reimbursement of the burial costs.

Dover Air Force Base Photo Credit: usatoday.com

Dover Air Force Base
Photo Credit: usatoday.com

Chief of Staff, Steve Turdo shares on his military experience in Afghanistan

Since the start of this blog I’ve mentioned my Dad, Steve Turdo, numerous times.  My father has worked for the U.S. government for over 36 years in many different positions.  He has surrounded himself with the work he loves and with that has grown to expand is knowledge, experiences and even better himself through education.  He is a Rowan Alumn, gaining his bachelors in 2006 and is currently working towards his masters.

I’ve always been proud of the work ethic my father possesses and have tried to emulate the same in my own work. For as long as I can remember I’ve always thought my Dad had the coolest job.  Whenever I was asked what my dad does for a living I of course was honored to respond with “U.S. Department of Defense”.   That honor is now larger than ever, now that my answer has been replaced with “He manages DCMA employees on base in Northern Afghanistan”.

This weekend my dad had a full schedule of traveling, and assessing other bases.  He still found the opportunity to answer some questions I had for him via email about his position, experience so far, and expectations.  As proud as I am of everything he’s done, I’m even more proud to share it with others.

Stephen Turdo -- Bargam Airfield Base

Stephen Turdo — Bargam Airfield Base

Name: Stephen Turdo

Age: 55

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA

Current Location: Bargam Airfield Base, in the Parwan Province, Afghanistan

Q. What is your position?

A. Defense Contract Management Agency Northern Afghanistan Chief of Staff

Q. How long have you been away from home?

A. Since June 29th, 2013.  I will return in May 2014.

Q. What do your daily duties consist of?

A. Day to day operations for a command of about 70 people, workload balancing, supervisor and personnel issues for about 30 civilian employees

Q. What has been the biggest transition for you since you’ve been away?

A. Lack of indoor plumbing.  And the realization that we are supporting the men and women that are here fighting and protecting our way of life.  They are eating and sharing the same confined base with us and what we do is in direct support of their mission.

Camp Eggers

Q. Does the culture influence you on the base? If so, how?

A. Yes, there are individuals from the militaries of the coalition forces, the local nationals that work on the base, as well as citizens from other countries working for the contractors providing services to the military.  They are all interesting and they all have their own reasons for being here.  When I arrived, the only people I knew were the people I trained with for the deployment and some of the individuals that I communicated with prior to coming to Afghanistan

Q.  Have you formed any kind of relationship with the soldiers on your base?

A. Yes, about half of our staff in Northern Afghanistan is military, and the other two offices are about half military and we deal with them on a daily basis.  I talk to the Airmen and Soldiers everyday, part of my responsibilities include working with the soldiers and briefing new employees when they arrive and out-briefing and receiving feedback as they leave.  We discuss everyday work activities as well as their job back in the States, their families and where they are from.  My boss is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.

Sahate Ame Circle

Sahate Ame Circle

Q. What is the hardest thing been for you since you’ve been there?

A. Not being able to have a diversion from my routine.  Although I have traveled to other bases in Northern Afghanistan it would be nice to have a day or two to attend or participate in other activities.

Q.  Has your communication differed with your family at home?

A.  Somewhat, I am able to communicate almost on a daily basis.  Either through the Internet using Wifi or using the voice over IP office phones

Q. What is the first thing you’re looking forward to when you come home?

A. Seeing my family! Being able to go and do what I want, currently we work seven days a week and cannot leave the base.  We travel between bases either in airplanes or on helicopters only seeing outside the base from the air.

Creating the Perfect Care Package

Fall is among us and the holidays are just around the corner.  I’m lucky enough to have December to look forward to since I will have my Dad home for almost two weeks.  Most people with loved ones deployed are not as fortunate as I am this Christmas.  A great way to help make your loved one feel as if they’re getting to spend a little bit of the upcoming seasons with you is to make fun, creative and personal care packages.  I’ve compiled some of my favorite seasonal how-to care packages for some inspirational ideas to bring you closer to the one you miss.

With Halloween the first up, Army Wife 101 brings us her “Boo-Tacular” Halloween Care Package ideas.  This care package is a great way to showcase what the kids are dressing up as this year, or to send your loved one their favorite candy.

Next up is Thanksgiving! Married to the Army has compiled a list for all kinds of care package occasions.  I especially love her thanksgiving ideas including canned turkey, instant mashed potato cups, and hostess apple pies.  As military families, we’re thankful everyday, do a little bit more by making your loved one feel appreciated on thanksgiving by sending them a list of what makes you so thankful for them.

Photo Courtesy of: http://itsjordyn33.tumblr.com

A clever New Years care package
Photo Courtesy of: http://itsjordyn33.tumblr.com

Christmas is where you can get the most creative.  Sharing old family photos, or your favorite Christmas together is a great idea for bringing your loved one back to that memory, and letting them know that they’ll be home making new ones soon.  Deployment Diva has tons of ideas for not only Christmas care packages but almost every kind you can think of.  Deployment Diva included a mini stocking filled with small candies, santa slingshots, and even tree scented sticks to give the deployed the feeling of Christmas morning while being away.

I hope some of these ideas work for you and help you cope a little bit better as the holidays approach us.  I know I will be sending my Dad one before he gets home, I just have to come up with my own idea because chances are he already read this before it arrives! Check back soon to see what I come up with for my original care package.