Retiring Gen. Odierno Voices “Great Concern”

Gen. Raymond Odierno Photo courtesy of Association of the United States Army.

Gen. Raymond Odierno Photo courtesy of Association of the United States Army.

From the final press conference of retiring Army Gen. Ray Odierno:

In his final Pentagon press conference as Army chief of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said he has “great concern personally” about the Army’s fate, fearing the nation is “sacrificing long-term viability of our military.”

The 60-year-old general, whose Army career started in 1976, retires at a time of uncertainty about funding available for the military and increasingly complicated national security threats.

“Our security environment remains uncertain and dynamic,” Odierno said, citing Russian and Chinese aggression, unrest in the Middle East caused by the Islamic State group, threats of global terrorism, and an “unstable and provocative North Korea” as a short list of problems that could require military response.

You can read more of Odierno’s comments on the Association of the United States Army website. Odierno

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Army ROTC Hosts Annual Golf Scramble

USF ARMY ROTC golf scrambleAs we near Veterans Day, a lot of people are looking for ways to honor veterans and those currently serving. If you play golf or just have fun on the links, here’s an opportunity to support young men and women training to become Army officers.

It’s the 11th Annual University of South Florida Army ROTC Golf Scramble – a rich tradition that helps fund Army ROTC current and future programs.

The event is scheduled Nov. 14, 2014, at Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club, 10630 Plantation Bay Drive, Tampa, FL. The Golf Scramble begins at 7:30am.

In addition to contributing to an organization that strives to build competent and confident cadets, it’s also an opportunity to meet our future 2nd Lieutenants that will be leading our sons and daughters in the U.S. Army. You can register and find more information about teams and sponsorships at USF Army ROTC Golf Scramble website.

7 Mother’s Day Tips from a Military Mom

Dorie Griggs with her son and daughter during Family Day at Ft. Stewart. Photo by Stanley Leary.

Dorie Griggs with her son and daughter during Family Day at Ft. Stewart. Photo by Stanley Leary.

I am the mom of a member of the U.S. Army. My son is deployed right now. Which means I experience a wide array of emotions any given day, sometimes within the span of a few minutes.

Mother’s Day is approaching quickly. Holidays have a way of bringing up the emotions we can hide the rest of the year. Having a child deployed this year I anticipate a few down moments as I approach that day.

I’d like to offer a few suggestions to readers who would like to show support for a military mom this Mother’s Day.

4 Ways to Help a Military Mom

Offer to send a care package to the deployed soldier. Knowing my son receives packages from a variety of friends makes me smile.

If you don’t have the time or money to send a package, offer to contribute to the postage costs, or supplies. Military families spend a lot on postage during the deployment.

Do let the mom of a deployed soldier know you appreciate their service.

Treat the mom of a deployed soldier to a lunch or dinner out, just to chat. Enjoying positive company is a great stress reliever.

3 Things to Avoid with a Military Mom

I love surprises, but not while my son is deployed. If you would like to visit the mom of a deployed soldier call first to let her know you are coming over. An unexpected knock on the door can bring visions of uniformed officers coming to let you know your soldier has been killed. Please don’t put the family of a deployed soldier through that scenario.

Having a deployed son or daughter is stressful. We get through it one day at a time. Making statements like, “I don’t know how you do it.” Is not helpful. We don’t know how we do it either.

Avoid overtly political discussions, unless the parent starts the conversation. Whether you agree or disagree with what is going on does not change the fact that my son is deployed and I worry.

I hope to spend this Mother’s Day with my husband and two children who are still home. Hearing from my deployed son would be a huge bonus.

Injured Soldier Talks about Attack that Killed Brittany Gordon

Army Spc. Brittany Gordon.

Army Spc. Brittany Gordon.

It was already 90 degrees at the Afghanistan base when Steve Beaty, a Montana soldier, spotted an Afghan in uniform approaching wearing a winter coat.

Just one of the details shared by Beaty about the suicide bomb attack that killed the daughter of a St. Petersburg assistant police chief, Army Spc. Brittany Gordon. Gordon was assigned to a Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade and on her first deployment in Afghanistan. The blast that killed Gordon injured a dozen soldiers including Beaty.

Beaty, his foot wrapped in a cast with two pins holding it together, still has shrapnel that in his leg and chest that will be left alone.

The Army specialist talked about the insider bombing attack in Afghanistan that killed six people to the Montana News Tribune.

Attacks like this one have U.S. soldiers nervous in Afghanistan.

“The insider threat is a big deal over there,” Beaty said. “That’s the biggest thing we have to fight. The Taliban doesn’t wear uniforms. It’s tough – you have to stay on edge, on alert.”

Beaty said the bomber detonated a vest full of shrapnel as he raised his weapon.

A dozen people were wounded and some killed immediately. Beaty witnessed a CIA officer carrying wounded to safety, unaware he had a back wound that would kill him within the hour.

You can read Beaty’s full account of the attack HERE.

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Joining the Army as a Spouse

The insignia for an Army Staff Sergeant

By Sarah Curran – a proud, new military spouse

It’s no wonder that less than one percent of the American population serves in our Armed Forces.  It’s not an easy task for them and it can be even harder for their family.

My husband is currently stationed in Korea.  And while it’s difficult as newly weds to be so far apart, I find more difficulty in getting used to the lifestyle and rules that come with becoming a military spouse.

We have only been married a couple months, dating for a couple years.  But I still am completely clueless when it comes to the basics of military life and procedure.

So in a effort to not look like a deer in the headlights when someone asks me “What is your husband’s APO?” or “What rank is he?” I have assembled a need to know list for myself to integrate into a military lifestyle. Continue reading

Afghanistan: A U.S. Soldier Sends Home a Snow Angel

A U.S. Army soldier takes the time to make a snow angel while deployed in Afghanistan to send to his daughter.

Ignoring bad news won’t make it go away. So, this blog has kept up with developments on this week’s major news story out of Afghanistan – the soul wrenching and heartbreaking story of an Army sergeant who reportedly stalked and killed 16 Afghan citizens, most of them children.

That is a reality that will not change.

However, there is a need to provide balance – a broader view. And right now that broader view comes from another Army soldier currently serving in Afghanistan.

This soldier and father took time to do a snow angel for his 3-year-old back home in Florida and sent photos. The family agreed to share the photos with Off the Base.

Snow angels from Afghanistan courtesy of a father serving in the U.S. Army.

Because just like our “snow angel,” many of the U.S. soldiers who have served in Afghanistan over the last 10 years are family men and women who have sacrificed time away from their own families so that they may help Afghan children.

That is a reality that we should not forget as well.

May these shared moments between a father and daughter bring you a smile and help restore your sense of balance.

Army Mom: Expecting the Unexpected from a Deployed Son

The Christmas tree, yet no celebration due to a change in orders.

My son’s platoon arrived back at Fort Carson on December 21st.  Alison had their new apartment all set up and decorated for Christmas—everything was perfect and the only thing missing was Josh.  Unfortunately, my son did not come home with his platoon.  Josh’s orders had changed and he would return at a later date.

All the planning and preparation for a wonderful Christmas with Josh came to a screeching halt.  Alison flew back to Montana to spend the holidays with her family.  The beautifully decorated Christmas tree stood in the cold apartment with no Christmas celebration in sight.

One thing I have learned as an Army mom is to expect the unexpected, but when it happens it still hits hard and sends my emotions on a roller coaster ride.  It was heart-wrenching to think about the tree that went up, with such anticipation of the wonderful Christmas to come, but would have to be taken down without any Christmas celebration.

Tracie receives her unexpected surprise - her son Josh returned from Afghanistan.

The worst for me was the irony that I, through Military Families Ministry, launched a project that sent almost 1800 stockings to deployed troops for Christmas, yet my own son would spend Christmas in Afghanistan with no stocking, not one gift or package from home.  I was angry at the Army and heart-broken for my son.

Last week, Alison called to tell me that Josh had been released and should be arriving within the week.    On Wednesday, she sent me a text to say she was coming up that evening and would stay with us until he got home. When the door opened and I turned to say hello, it was not Alison that I saw—it was Josh.  I sat, stunned for what seemed a long time, before I stood to greet and hug my son.  The hug was precious and full of relief; different from the hug that sent him off to Afghanistan last June.

Tracie in the arms of her son - getting her return home hug.

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