Military Families: “You Are the Expert” Writing Contest

And the winners are … Here are the top entries from the first Military “You Are the Expert Writing Contest”:

First Place: Staying Connected During Deployment

By Erin from Deployment Diatribes

… There are lots of ways to help your kids and spouse stay connected. In our family, before my husband left, he bought several Lego mini-figures and let each son select one to represent himself. Then, my husband took the mini-figures with him on deployment. He attached them to magnets and they attach to his bunk. He takes them with him sometimes and takes their picture at various spots, like this:

The Lego mini-figures a deployed dad uses to stay connected to his children.

Seeing their mini-figures in pictures from around the world really helps the boys feel close to their dad while he is deployed. I print out pictures for the boys and they hang them by their beds, take them into school to share in their classes, and carry them around the house.

Second Place: An American in Japan

By Wife on the Roller Coaster

… Other than having to apologize for our large furniture, the move was painless. I learned in my 2-week indoctrination class that tipping is considered an insult in Japan. But I also learned through word of mouth that the Japanese will never take offense when offered a gift of American pizza and beer. After accepting my on-base food court offerings with a bow, they piled into their now barren truck and drove away, leaving me alone in this newly Americanized Japanese home.

Third Place: A Different Kind of Family

By Ashley S. Brantley

… Being a military wife is an all the time occupation.

It’s only with another wife that I can talk about the fact that my husband wants to go to war and that I also want it for him. Civilians don’t understand that need that they have to go down range with their guys. They also have a hard time understanding how quickly you are able to bond with those around you.

You can read the full essays of each winner at “You Are the Expert Writing Contest” and also find other submissions.

A Military Wife’s Letter to Her Deploying Soldier

Photo courtesy of United States American

The following letter was written by the wife to her husband, a Georgia National Guardsman preparing to deploy.

However, it’s significance reaches well beyond her family.

Jennifer Chaloux’s letter to her husband, Spc. Matthew Chalou was sent to me by another military wife a day after her husband deployed for a fifth time in their six years of marriage.

Jennifer’s Letter

It was published in Stars and Stripes February 3, 2010 for her husband who was deploying to Afghanistan for a year.

The man you share your life with is leaving, and there is no guarantee he will come home. Days fly by quicker than you have ever known. They are consumed with nonstop picture and video-taking, hugs, kisses and sighs because reality is too close. We try to finish projects around the house and get a quick lesson on using power tools.

It’s days on end trying not to cry too hard so you don’t make him feel bad … laying your head on his chest trying to memorize the sound of his heartbeat, the way he holds you, kisses you on the head, his laughter and his cologne. Holding his hand and not wanting to let go, not even for a second. A million kisses and hugs. Saying I love you 50 times a day and still questioning whether you have said it enough.

The letter goes on describing her feelings and thoughts that are shared by many wives, parents, children and friends for their deployed loved ones.

Jennifer ends her letter by asking that all families never forget and “support our troops” by displaying the American flag.

You can read Jennifer’s full letter on the Stars and Stripes website.

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