In Their Own Words: Military Bloggers and Diary Writers

There are no known photos of Civil War soldier Cyrus Forwood, Delaware archivists used photos of Civil War re-enactment soldiers to illustrate his story.

Most in the military community are aware of Milblogging.com an aggregating website that lists more than 3,100 military blogs. But, it’s more than just a list. It’s a leading military-related blog portal but also accepts stories, hosts discussion boards and notifies members of interesting new submissions.

Military blogging in some form is not new, Check out the writings of a Delaware soldier who kept a daily diary 150 years ago. Diary writing is the precursor to blogging. And congratulations to the archivists in Delaware for sharing his story. You can follow Cyrus’ posts on Twitter @CyrusForwood.

Cyrus Forwood – A Delaware Soldier in the American Civil War
As part of the State of Delaware`s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration, the Delaware Public Archives is using this blog to repost notes and observations Forwood wrote in his diary during his time as a soldier–day-by-day.

Here are some other new additions to Milblogging.com:

Husband / Father / Sailor Deployment Journal
Written anonymously using an “Answer Key,” this is the daily account of a 14 year Navy Reserve sailor who has been deployed to Afghanistan. Strictly adhering to the rules of OPSEC, it is a raw account of the ups and downs of deployment.

Navywifechronicles
On April 23, 2010, my husband was in a car accident while deployed in Iraq. Needless to say, this day has changed our lives. I write about how we’re picking up the pieces, Navy life, adapting to the civilian world, & silly things our kids say.

Boundless
A general [military] lifestyle blog, I frequently share my photography/design, recipes, & adventures. I`m fairly new to this military life, but I enjoy sharing my perspective + tips and tricks to making the challenges presented fun and humorous

The Camouflage Keyboard
Strange, unbelievable, mundane, and life-changing happenings from a reservist mobilized to active duty overseas.

Semper Fi Parents
A chronicle of my daughter`s time in the USMC, as well as articles of interest to any thinking of joining the Marines, articles about Marine Corps history, boot camp training, military news, etc.

Household Six: Dual Military, Veteran, and Military Spouse Expressions
Personal views and opinions on military service, as well as other misc. subjects to include current events.

Ramblings from a Retired Shooter
A Journal based on my thoughts, experiences, and opinions based on combat experiences and journey with PTSD and other injuries.

Life in a Sandbox
Day to-day life of a soldier on a deployment.

If you have a favorite blog that highlights life as a military family or civilians working to understand military life, please share it. I’ll post a list of favorites over the July 4th weekend. Send your submissions to: bobrien@wusf.org.

Thank a Service Member – Today

Military Families Ministry in Colorado holds a Thank You cards for the troops signing May 27, 2011 outside King Soopers grocery.

By Tracie Ciambotti

Military Families Ministry is currently collecting “thank you” cards and letters to send to deployed service members this 4th of July.  Our Colorado group from the Mountain View Fellowship in Strasburg hosted a “Thank a Soldier” card signing this past Saturday at the King Soopers grocery store.  We got 81 cards signed in four hours and received generous contributions from many towards our printing and postage costs.

I was, however, saddened at the number of individuals that said “no thanks” or “not today” when we asked if they wanted to help us thank soldiers currently deployed.  Some walked by—completely ignoring our invitation to thank the brave men and women in uniform who sacrifice to preserve our freedoms.

Gary McComb is a member of the Colorado Military Families Ministry, a member of the Colorado Patriot Guard Riders and a veteran.

It was shocking to me and others in my group, that on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, people hurried in and out of the grocery store buying food for their parties and family gatherings that would take place on Memorial Day, but seemingly forgot the purpose of this holiday.

As the mother of an Army sergeant, it is difficult for me to comprehend that so many Americans are naïve to the sacrifice that is honored and remembered on Memorial Day.  For me, it was not just another holiday or a reason to have a party.

I know the sacrifice personally—particularly since my son will be leaving in a couple weeks for his third deployment since 2005.  As the co-founder of Military Families Ministry, I also know many service members who are currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, Kuwait, and other locations that did not spend this holiday with their families.  There were families who struggled through the day in agony as they missed a loved one who died defending our freedom.

If you would like to send a “Thank you” to a deployed service member, visit Military Families Ministry to download our Thank you card.

You can send notes online or mail them directly:

Military Families Ministry

49220 Antelope Drive West

Bennett, CO  80102

Army Physical Training Changing for Wounded Soldiers

I’m sharing part of a story by Blake Farmer that aired this morning on NPR. He takes a look at changing fitness requirements for injured soldiers who stay in the service and for others who transition out.

A soldier moves into the crescent pose at a daily yoga class offered at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Photo courtesy of NPR.

By Blake Farmer of WLPN

The Army is famous — or perhaps infamous — for its high-octane drill instructors. But for many soldiers who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, push-ups, pull-ups and platoon runs have become impossible, so the Army has been developing what it calls “enhanced” physical training.

For soldiers taking a yoga class at the Warrior Transition Unit — which serves war-wounded soldiers — at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, the gentle commands of instructor Hylan Hampton have replaced the yelling of Army physical training.

“Remember that there’s no judgment, no competition with yourself or with anyone around you,” Hampton tells veterans taking the class, leading them through poses — child’s, sunflower, cat and cow.

The men and women taking the class have sustained visible as well as invisible injuries.

Spc. Michael Stefan is a combat medic who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Seeing soldiers get killed, and working on them and the memories and flashbacks that go along with that, this is the outcome,” he says. “But now I’m at my point in life where I’m transitioning out of the Army, and I have a wife and three kids and one on the way, so now I need to better take care of myself.”

Taking care of himself is more complicated than it used to be. Because of his medication, Stefan is not supposed to get very sweaty.

But a good sweat is just what Stefan needs, says Lauren Geddis, his occupational therapist. She says yoga combines fitness and stress relief for her PTSD patients.

You can listen to the story or read the rest of it here.

The Stigma Is Still There

 

Blogger and active Army Senior NCO CJ Grisham.

The following is a shared posting from active duty Army Senior NCO, CJ Grisham, a blogger of A Soldier’s Perspective, who can also be read and heard on You Served Military Blog and Podcast .  

It’s been over two years since General Chiarelli and the rest of the Army leadership released its plan to remove the stigma seeking mental health counseling for PTS and PTSD. One of the first things Secretary Gates did was remove the question from security clearance interviews about seeking mental health counseling. This went a long way to helping Soldiers come forward to talk about PTS issues, me especially. And, after two years of seeking counseling and two separate commands, I still maintain my clearance. But, we still have a long way to go in helping our troops, in my opinion.

While it’s easy to help troops that come forward and seek help, we still can’t seem to recognize those troops who are trying to bottle it up inside. Sure, we all get the briefings about what to look for, but I guess we simply aren’t looking.

Case in point, I know a Soldier currently whom I thought was an outstanding Soldier, a Specialist (E4). He loved his job, had pride in what he did, and was a good Soldier. He never got into trouble and appeared to be on track to making NCO.

Then, something happened.

That something was returning from combat and being told by his wife that she was seeing another man and couldn’t handle military life any longer. She demanded – and received – a divorce. This, of course, devastated the Soldier. He became reclusive and started being late to formation. Then he started missing formation completely. His standards dropped and he became testy with seniors. He was given corrective action in the form of extra training and non-judicial punishment (Article 15). He lost rank and money. Because of this, he started experimenting with drugs. He got caught and was punished again. He went AWOL and was put on suicide watch and punished again.

Yet, other than a friend recommending he seek treatment, no one in his leadership thought to stop and ask why such a stellar Soldier had become such a “dirtbag” and understand his situation. Granted, bad behavior can’t just be swept under the carpet, but if there is a reason behind the behavior shouldn’t we try to correct those issues CAUSING the behavior?

We leaders, NCOs and officers, need to take a step back every now and then and try to look at these situations objectively from the outside. When Soldiers feel like we don’t care and just compound the problem with needless punishments and misunderstandings about the true cause of events, we do a disservice to troops who are crying out for help. Our actions could very well push these Soldiers over the brink into a worse situation than that in which they started.

I’m not advocating babying troops and allowing them to get away with everything. There is a way to punish Soldiers for bad behavior while also providing the needed assistance to prevent it in the future. I asked the Soldier how many of his leaders have sat down with him as a concerned Soldier and leader and tried to find out about his personal life. The answer: none.

THAT is why the stigam is still there.

Here is an archive of CJ Grisham’s other articles.

The Few, the Proud, the Military Spouses of MacDill

The MacDill Enlisted Spouses Club welcomes home the JSCE, Nov. 12, 2010.

A nod to the U.S. Marines for a play on their message. Yet, I don’t think the Corps will mind especially if they have an opportunity to meet the women I did Tuesday night.

I was invited to be a guest speaker at the MacDill  Enlisted Spouses Club. Bottom line, I learned more from them than they could have ever learned from me. Most of them are parents, many have a husband deployed, others a spouse that just got back or is preparing to leave.

But, do not feel sorry for these women. All they ask for is understanding. ESC President Jackie Dorr wants non-military folks to know when her husband is deployed, as he is now, if her phone rings that takes precedent. She’ll stop a person in mid-sentence to take the call. Civilians need to know she’s not being rude, the call could be from her husband who might have tried for hours, days or weeks to get through from a combat zone.

So, Rule 1: if you know any military spouses, give them cell phone freedom.

These generous women shared some of their stories with me and many have agreed to share on this blog and in my radio reports. So, expect more rules or ESC suggestions on what non-military community should know.

The 2010 USO Toast to the Troops attended by many from the MacDill Enlisted Spouses Club.

Together, there were about two dozen ESC members and me. We laughed, sighed and told stories with occasional breaks by one mother or another to tend to a crying child. They shared a meal – buffet style. They watched over each others children dispensing hugs and discipline in equal measure.

Don’t be mistaken, this was not just a social gathering. This group of women works together and runs the club in a business like fashion. They raise money so children of deploying military can have a free “Daddy Doll,” a fabric doll with the photographic image of the child’s father on the front.

Members do community outreach to help other non-military organizations like the local food bank. Some volunteer to greet and handout “goodie bags” to all of MacDill’s returning Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines even if it’s 2 a.m. on a darkened tarmac. They have fun too planning socials and day-out events.

The group cares for each other and each others families. They share a mutual respect and a mutual mission to support their spouses.

I look forward to their stories and to learning much from this “Band of Sisters” as one new member called them.

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