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Call Them Mariners

March 10, 2019

I recently posted an article on a Mariner spouse page. Call Them ‘Mariners’

I posted it for a couple of reasons… I’m big on education and if the spouse don’t use the correct terms and history… Well, that’s a pet peeve of mine.

It’s been received well. One person did ask what were the veteran benefits. I answered “Veteran status means getting recognition and benefits like medical care from the VA. So many WWII Mariners died before getting veteran status. Interestingly, it was the newly formed Air Force that opposed Mariners getting veteran status. They weren’t even their own separate branch from the Army in WWII. ūüėí”

One member asked me why I was singling out the Air Force… She posted the legislation as “interesting reading.” It is a very lengthy PDF from the Congressional Record. 2017 legislation does fix some oversights and errors. It’s a shame that most WWII Mariners are now dead.

My reply was “Yes, it was the Secretary in particular.”

I was then asked why I was dissing the Secretary of the Air Force because he was acting on advice of the Civilian/Military Review Board. I find it particularly interesting that that she mentioned civilian influence.

I replied with my go-to source that I have used for over two decades. The United States Merchant Marine organization’s position. My detractor sees this source as merely an OpEd piece.

Honestly, I don’t care who is responsible, it’s a shame. Look, I support our military and I am a proud Patriot. But how can someone connected to this industry not want equal recognition and benefits for those who served and also gave the ultimate sacrifice? Vet status given to those who flunked out of military training?? Vet status to dieticians and clerks before a branch of service that list 7,000 men?? And arbitrarily saying vet status was only good up to a YEAR before the official end of the war?? (2017 legislation appears to have fixed this.)

The USMM is older than the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Certainly older than the Air Force.

During my short time at Sea Power Magazine, I met former military who didn’t know the USMM actually has combat medals. I don’t know how many years the Almanac of Seapower had been published before I asked where were the Mariner medals? No one in the office knew that the United States Merchant Marine Academy is the only federal service academy to send it’s cadets, midshipmen, or airmen into EVERY war and military action. Including Desert Shield/Desert Storm. NONE of the other four took part in that conflict. No one in the office knew that USMMA was the only federal service academy NOT invited to the celebration parade!

I remember being asked to get a picture of a Mariner officer at work so I pulled a picture of the Chief off my cubicle wall and the Senior Editor said, “No I need an officer (in uniform).” My Chief was in jeans and a t-shirt so response was, “My husband is an officer and that is his uniform.”

We aren’t often include in Memorial Day services and Veterans Day services. I met the Merchant Mariner who fought to make sure the USMM medallion was included as part of the World War II Memorial. I met men who had accomplished the 1988 legislation and were still trying to vet status for those who served between 1945 and the end of WWII in 1946, Korea, and Vietnam.

I got tired of hearing that if I took my children out of school to celebrate the one holiday that honors past and present Mariners (Maritime Day–a NATIONAL holiday on May 22nd) it would be considered an unexcused absence.

It’s been 13 hours since I posted my link. I’m assuming the other spouse has Air Force ties. Where I live I know people from every branch of military service. I am not knocking them. I am grateful for their service and sacrifice. And I agree their benefits are grossly inadequate and veteran affairs and medical care needs such an overhaul.

And yet I also know that despite our “civilian pay” and benefits, our Mariners and families make sacrifices too. Currently, no my Mariner has not gone into a war zone but given the fact the Chief is “deployed” 5-7 months a year EVERY year for the past 27 and we don’t have Exchange benefits, support groups, housing, etc…, That if he were ever sent into a war zone I would hope he would be honored with veteran status.

Getting off my soap box now.

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Our Life

February 7, 2019

Image may contain: one or more people, water and outdoor

The Chief is STILL sailing. T1 is already has enough credits to be a Sophomore during her first year at college, living 12 hours away from us and studying Chemical Engineering, minoring in Business and Music. She joined Pep Band and was appointed junior conductor. She’s on her second roommate (don’t ask). Joined a sorority. Made Dean’s List for the first quarter. And is currently joining the ChemE fraternity. Whew.

T2 just scheduled all her senior classes–5 of which will be AP level. We’re hoping she has enough AP credit to start college a sophomore and can skip all her gen-ed requirements. We’re waiting for the college of her choice to announce summer early decision days and we could actually know exactly where she’s going before her last year of high school even starts.

I finally have my current dream job–library para-educator. Unfortunately, my boss said she wanted one thing–independent, self-motivated, competent, strong, creative, co-teacher that she didn’t have to micromanage but what she really wanted was someone who would only do what she specifically told them to do. I’ve edited this sentence because I am trying to practice ‚Ķ I don’t know what I’m trying to practice. I just have to grin and bear it. I love the work. I love most of the students. I don’t have to test any more. And I have a sneaking suspicion she won’t be returning.

Merchant Seaman Tee-Shirts and Hoodies posted the above comic. The Chief FINALLY join the evil FaceBook to keep in touch with his woodworking forums. Every now and then I see some of his activity. His comments to this comic brought tears to MY eyes.

My used to say she sees me more even though I am gone half of the year than if I were stuck commuting to an office every day.

The ability to communicate has gotten easier over the last 30 years, but nothing takes the pace of just being there(.)

Another mariner responded: Especially when you’ve got kids. Takes a strong-willed woman.

Very true. And my bride has done a great job raising 2 more strong willed, self-reliant women.

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Life Takes a Funny Turn

October 2, 2017

Summer was winding down. The Chief was going to be late by a week for T1’s ceremony. Any potentially appealing job listings mysteriously disappeared off the county website after I had inquired about not hearing anything when I had been promised help transferring into another position. I was pretty much resigned to going back to full-time subbing. Maybe that was for the best. It would be T1’s senior year and I knew it would be a crazy time for us.

But I couldn’t help not being satisfied with that. I started looking at the nearby neighboring county. Some of their schools were actually closer than my last job was to my house. But interestingly the pay was almost $1,500 LESS!

The Chief was in sell range and we were talking about all manner of upcoming things. I finally asked him how he would feel if I applied for those jobs even if the pay was less. Three schools were closer to home and to my gym. He supported my decision.

I spent the next few hours applying and uploading resumes and letters of recommendation. It was after midnight before I finished. It was in God’s hands.

The following day I had a follow-up ENT appointment for myself for my sinuses and I was going to have a hearing test to see if I was the reason T1 suffered from hearing loss. I had been at the gym earlier but I had a caffeinated drink and it triggered my SVT. I spent the next few hours in SVT but nothing major happened. My appointment was running long and my cell phone rang.

It was the principal from my children’s elementary school, the place where I had desperately wanted to be the library para and had been passed over twice now. He was offering me the Title I para position I had been released from at my previous job when they lost their Title I status. It was last minute but I would report the following Monday.

Sure it wasn’t the library position I desired but it would be one mile from my home and I wouldn’t have to take a pay cut. I agreed to take the job.

There was of course some comedy of errors on the part of human resources. Because I was technically still on the pay roll, no one called me to offer me my salary memorandum. It had been emailed to my still active email account. This also caused some confusion about filling out my benefits paperwork–that I had signed in January. No one seemed to know any answers and my drive over to the school board office was for nothing.

We’ve been in school four weeks now. I am making bulletin boards and having fun at that. I’m teaching reading and math remediation. Familiar faces have been so welcoming. And my new boss? It doesn’t hurt that she is the blonde doppelganger of the most delightful woman at church. So far we are definitely getting along. One of my classroom is a bit annoyed with the fact my group is noisy. It’s kind of a chicken or egg situation–she has a noisy class in general.

We’re knee deep in marching band. We’ve had Senior Informational Night. Tomorrow is the FAFSA night. It’s getting real.

Just got to trust God’s timing…

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Gold Award Court of Honor

August 20, 2017

The Chief was unable to make it home. He missed it by a week. It couldn’t be helped. But he was there in spirit. His carved Girl Scout Bridge and his Hounds at Hazelwild medallion were on display. And he sent an email for me to read during the parents’ moment to speak.

Ok, now is the time to grab your tissues. T1, your dad, who is the Eagle scout, and I are very proud of you and this amazing project you created and undertook. I would say yes, there were times you were a typical teenager but then this wasn’t a project a typical teenager would attempt. I hope you know that after doing this, you can really take on any event and project you put your mind to.

                              The Chief sent the following message: Every Dad thinks their daughter is amazing, I have the blessing of knowing that mine is. When I learned the size and scope of the project she set out to do I had an initial bit of hesitation, knowing the amount of work that would be required. T1 insisted that she was up to the challenge and would be able to get the job done. In the end, the time, sweat and trials that went into this project were worth it in the end. Completing a Gold Award Project is something to be proud of, but as a Dad I was more proud of something else. Being able to have a vision, share it with others, and get so many people to give their time and energy to make it a success is even more amazing. Seeing the growth and maturity as she dealt with the challenges lets me know that she’s capable of anything she sets her mind to.

  I truly know my daughter is awesome.

Many of you know that T1 lost her special greyhound, Crookshanks, on March 31st. I was originally going to commission the same Cindy Liebel pendant for T1 but the idea came to me to honor Crook. Racing greyhounds have tattoos in their ears. One set of numbers marks the kennel the hound came from. The other ear has the birth month and year followed by a letter showing which order in their litter they were tattooed. Crook, who raced as Kiowa Saints, had identical tattoos to her sister Hedwig except for the letter–128F. I always said it stood for fair, as Crook was lighter than Heddie, who is 128D (for dark). I thought about a pendant but you are really a bracelet kind of girl. So here is a custom Cindy Liebel cuff bracelet with Crook’s tattoo numbers. And when people ask you about those numbers, Crook will always be honored as your first–but not last–greyhound and how she helped you earn your Gold Award.

Note: I had a few dads in the audience come up to me afterwards to say that they fought back a few sniffles. My SIL’s dad came up to me and said, “When she struggles in life, the first thing she needs is the Bible. The second is her dad’s email. Make sure she takes a framed copy of that with her to college.”

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