A word to the wise….

“Leadership is intangible, and therefore no weapon ever designed can replace it.” Omar Bradley

Bradley-Omar

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A Bittersweet Ending

With over 11 “good years” in service I will close a long bittersweet chapter in my life. I am saying goodbye to the military. Various personal reasons abound, suffice to say it’s time to let go.

The Army helped mold me into the woman I am today. Good or bad this unique American sub-culture gave me insight, better perspectives, discipline, and adventure throughout various times of my life.

I know I’ll miss it, the unique friendships, the regimental ways (some not all lol) and wearing the uniform. I still have my dress blues and will pass those on down to my grandchildren (when I get them).

Don’t know how I’ll truly feel once “it’s over.” I received my honorable discharge and will officially be out September 17th. I wish my unit the best, especially now that their current deployment rotation is over and anything at this point is possible.

 

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The fire within…

Had a recent discussion with my husband the other day about the “Lost Generation.” Who exactly are they? I belong to Generation X and my husband was one of the last to be born in the Baby Boomers generation.

I’ve noticed, especially in the military, that this “Lost Generation” certainly seems to be at a lost especially when it comes to respect and military bearing. Not once in my career during what I would term the “old school” Army did I witness such blatant disrespect towards or officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

Now, now I see it everywhere and unfortunately witnessed such an incident this past drill weekend within my own unit. This private took it upon himself to sound off against our 1st Sergeant and, of course, this was taken care of.

 

Time to get off my soapbox but sometimes I have to speak out.

Generational ideology has always fascinated me and I was able to pick out a website which contains a great breakdown of each segment:

 

 

Generational Breakdown

In America, there are six living generations, which are six fairly distinct groups of people. As a generalization each generation has different likes, dislikes, and attributes. They have had collective experiences as they aged and therefore have similar ideals. A person’s birth date may not always be indicative of their generational characteristics, but as a common group they have similarities.

(My grandparents)

  • Strong sense of personal civic duty, which means they vote.
  • Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
  • Strong loyalty to jobs, groups, schools, etc.
  • There was no “retirement” you worked until your died or couldn’t work anymore.
  • The labor-union-spawning generation.
  • “Use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without.”
  • Avoid debt…save and buy with cash.
  • Age of radio and air flight; they were the generation that remembers life without airplanes, radio, and TV.
  • Most of them grew up without modern conveniences like refrigerators, electricity and air conditioning.
  • Sometimes called The Greatest Generation.

Mature / Silents

Mature/Silents (My parents)

  • Born 1927- 1945.
  • Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar happiness: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock ‘n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine!
  • Korean and Vietnam War generation.
  • The First Hopeful Drumbeats of Civil Rights!
  • Pre-feminism women; women stayed home generally to raise children, if they worked it was only certain jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.
  • Men pledged loyalty to the corporation, once you got a job, you generally kept it for life.
  • The richest, most free-spending retirees in history.
  • Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
  • In grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class.
  • They are avid readers, especially newspapers.
  • “Retirement” means to sit in a rocking chair and live your final days in peace.
  • The Big-Band/Swing music generation.
  • Strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths.
  • Disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.

Baby Boomer

Baby Boomers (My Husband)

  • Born between 1946 and 1964. Two sub-sets:
  • 1. the save-the-world revolutionaries of the ’60s and ’70s;
  • and 2. the party-hardy career climbers (Yuppies) of the ’70s/’80s.
  • The “me” generation.
  • “Rock and roll” music generation.
  • Ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence.
  • Self righteous & self-centered.
  • Buy it now and use credit.
  • Too busy for much neighborly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all.
  • Even though their mothers were generally housewives, responsible for all child rearing, women of this generation began working outside the home in record numbers, thereby changing the entire nation as this was the first generation to have their own children raised in a two-income household where mom was not omnipresent.
  • The first TV generation.
  • The first divorce generation, where divorce was beginning to be accepted as a tolerable reality.
  • Began accepting homosexuals.
  • Optimistic, driven, team-oriented.
  • Envision technology and innovation as requiring a learning process.
  • Tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchal structure and tradition.
  • One of the largest generations in history with 77 million people.
  • Their aging will change America almost incomprehensibly; they are the first generation to use the word “retirement” to mean being able to enjoy life after the children have left home. Instead of sitting in a rocking chair, they go skydiving, exercise and take up hobbies, which increases their longevity.
  • The American Youth Culture that began with them is now ending with them and their activism is beginning to re-emerge.

Generation X

Generation X. (Me)

  • Born between 1965 and 1980*
  • The “latch-key kids” grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents. Latch-Key came from the house key kids wore around their neck, because they would go home from school to an empty house.
  • Entrepreneurial.
  • Very individualistic.
  • Government and big business mean little to them.
  • Want to save the neighborhood, not the world
  • Feel misunderstood by other generations
  • Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years and are therefore eager to make marriage work and “be there” for their children
  • Don’t “feel” like a generation, but they are
  • Raised in the transition phase of written based knowledge to digital knowledge archives; most remember being in school without computers and then after the introduction of computers in middle school or high school
  • Desire a chance to learn, explore and make a contribution
  • Tend to commit to self rather than an organization or specific career. This generation averages 7 career changes in their lifetime, it was not normal to work for a company for life, unlike previous generations.
  • Society and thus individuals are envisioned as disposable.
  • AIDS begins to spread and is first lethal infectious disease in the history of any culture on earth which was not subjected to any quarantine.
  • Beginning obsession of individual rights prevailing over the common good, especially if it is applicable to any type of minority group.
  • Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Vietnam war.
  • School problems were about drugs.
  • Late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents.
  • Into labels and brand names.
  • Want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt.
  • It is has been researched that they may be conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies, instead of previous generations.
  • Short on loyalty & wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples.
  • Self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization.
  • Survivors as individuals.
  • Cautious, skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.

Generation Y

Generation Y/Millennium (My daughter)

  • Born between 1981* and 2000*.
  • Aka “The 9/11 Generation” “Echo Boomers” America’s next great generation brings a sharp departure from Generation X.
  • They are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused.
  • Respect authority.
  • Falling crime rates. Falling teen pregnancy rates. But with school safety problems; they have to live with the thought that they could be shot at school, they learned early that the world is not a safe place.
  • They schedule everything.
  • They feel enormous academic pressure.
  • They feel like a generation and have great expectations for themselves.
  • Prefer digital literacy as they grew up in a digital environment. Have never known a world without computers! They get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet.
  • Prefer to work in teams.
  • With unlimited access to information tend to be assertive with strong views.
  • Envision the world as a 24/7 place; want fast and immediate processing.
  • They have been told over and over again that they are special, and they expect the world to treat them that way.
  • They do not live to work, they prefer a more relaxed work environment with a lot of hand holding and accolades.

(source)



Irregardless of which generation we belong to, we are all Americans and need to work together towards the common good.  We all need to contribute towards the betterment of society.  When we narrow our focus to just ourselves we become selfish and short-sighted. Sadly, I feel that’s what is happening to a lot of individuals in my daughter’s generation.  It’s all about self-entitlement, not self-accountability.

In the end, all of us need to work together, find common goals, remember that we are Americans.

A lot can be said about the Greatest Generation.  We should remember the sacrifices made (i.e. D-Day) and what our grandparents (great-grandparents gave up) to ensure their descendents would have a free and meaningful life.

 

Participating in the military funeral honors program

For most of my military career I have volunteered (or been assigned) to various duties.  The duty which stands out the most for me is the military funeral honors program.  This solemn event is one of my favorites to behold.  Full of rich history and steeped in military tradition, I am always in awe observing one of these in progress.

My wish is to be buried at Jefferson Barracks (alongside my husband)…among our bravest and finest soldiers, for me, is one of the greatest honors.

Below is  additional information for those of you who serve or know of  a family member who served and may wish to have this done:

 

Honoring Those Who Served

 

The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a way to show the nation’s deep gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country. This ceremonial paying of respect is the final demonstration a grateful nation can provide to the veteran’s family. This website will provide information on Military Funeral Honors along with helpful links to websites related to other military and veterans’ issues. The website will also serve as a resource tool for our nation’s funeral directors as they assist veterans’ families by arranging Military Funeral Honors.

 

HONORING THOSE WHO SERVED
is our commitment to recognize the sacrifice and contributions of our nation’s veterans.

 

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Self-awareness

My unit is conducting resilience training.  Given the current military climate (especially what sadly happened at Fort Hood), now more than ever soldiers need to become cognizant of themselves and their surroundings.

The following website is useful to those individuals wanting to learn more about Master Resilience Training and what the Army is currently implementing through all components:

 

Master Resilience Training

 

T
      he U.S. Army Master Resilience Trainer (MRT)
course is a 10-day program of study that teaches
resilience skills to noncommissioned officers
(NCOs). Since the NCOs will teach their soldiers these
skills, this course also teaches the fundamentals of how to
teach these skills to others. The course serves as one of the
foundational pillars of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
program. The course includes three components: prepara-
tion, sustainment, and enhancement. The preparation com-
ponent was developed at the University of Pennsylvania’s
Positive Psychology Center and is presented in the first
eight days of the course. This component teaches resilience
fundamentals and is based on the Penn Resilience Program
(PRP) curriculum as well as on other empirically validated
interventions from positive psychology (Seligman, Ernst,
Gillham, Reivich, & Linkins, 2009; Seligman, Rashid, &
Parks, 2006; Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). The
sustainment component was developed by researchers at
the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and focuses on
deployment cycle training. The enhancement component
was developed by sports psychologists at the United States
Military Academy at West Point and teaches personal and
professional skills that maximize individual performance.
The MRT course is intended to serve primarily as a foun-
dation for training resilience skills (preparation) but also to
introduce other resilience concepts that soldiers will en-
counter at other points in their deployment and life cycles
throughout their careers (sustainment and enhancement).
Therefore, this article focuses on concepts included in the
preparation portion of the MRT course, as this information
represents the majority of the material covered in the
course.

The agony and the ecstasy

I have to lose weight.

Weight has always been my Damocles sword.

Unlike my daughter whose always had a fast metabolism and can eat whatever she wants, I of course, cannot.

fresh1My Army Reserve unit has placed me on the weight control program.  I am 1% over and have been flagged. In order for me to be promoted and attend any schools I have to lose weight.

I HAVE fought with them though over my height.  They keep measuring me an inch short (and am not the only soldier whose had this done).  Trust me 1 inch means a lot when you are borderline on acceptable body weight.

By no means am I obese. I do realize I need to lose weight.  I also found out I suffer from poly arthritis which is different types of arthritis located within various parts of the body. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get up in the morning and deal with a hectic workday. Sometimes I have good days.

In the end I know it’s my responsibility to lose weight and keep marching forward.  Why it’s hard to do, it’s all mental. I love food, food does not love me.  I love my carbs and my sweets, especially bread and rice.

However, if I want to continue with the reserves (and the Army is cracking down on all components) I need to put on my big girl shoes and get to it, eat right and incorporate some type of exercise each and every day.

 

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Money for nothing

imagesFood stamp issuance can be a touchy issue and it’s been reported that Ohio has taken this benefit from over 10,000 residents and that number will continue to rise.  One of the new requirements (if you can call it new) is that those receiving assistance need to work at least 20 hours a week, go to school, get job training etc….(source)

I was on them for a few years while in college and I also worked on campus and was in the reserves; but there are those who are on it who take advantage of the system and those individuals need to be held accountable. If you’re mentally and physically able , then go to school, work those allotted hours. I also know of soldiers who are on them and I don’t begrudge the use because they are working.

Say what you will but there are people out there who do abuse the system and that’s what needs to be addressed. I am not talking about the elderly and those who have some kind of mental or physical issue. That’s not what this article addresses when they discuss removing individuals who shouldn’t be on them. And as far as drug testing I believe that is a given. I have to be tested as a soldier and my pay is from the taxpayers. So should anyone else who receives government aid. Period. This country is hurting economically and am exhausted hearing about the unemployment issues, gas prices, jobs going overseas etc…something’s gotta give and give soon.

Retirement? What’s that?

I calculated that I have at the very least 17 delightful more years of employment before I can retire.  My goal was 55 but unfortunately I am under the federal retirement system called the Federal Employee Retirement System (which sucks) or FERS for short. (source)

With that being said IF I retire with less than 30 years of service prior to 62 5% of my retirement pension will be deducted for each year am under the age of 62.

So, as of right now am trying to see about buying back my active duty time and apply it towards my total years of federal service.  If I am able to do that it means I can retire in about 13 to 14 years putting me at the tender age of 58. However, FERS employees only receive 1% of their base pay for each year they are in federal service.  So, 30% really isn’t a lot unless I put a bulk of my paycheck into my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and we all know with inflation and this shitty economy that’s not going to happen.

Friends have told me that eventually the pension will go the way of the Do Do Bird, and employees will have to invest instead in some kind of 401k plan.  Now, being a federal employee I am currently in no danger of losing my pension but when I reach 58 or 62 who the hell knows?

Scary to think I’d end up like those Detroit retirees whose pensions were to be frozen.  (source) Sad state of affairs. Perhaps a strong union would help. I feel it’s a travesty to our retirees taking their hard earned money. God only knows what’s in store for my daughter and future grandchildren.  It behooves young people to save NOW for their retirement.  Sock it away in something viable.  Though, when I was in my 20’s I wasn’t too concerned since we seem to think we are all invincible at that age.

If you are a federal employee or interested in becoming employed with the federal government here is some retirement info you can read to see if it’s something you really want to do:

FERS retirement topics:

  • Eligibility – The main eligibility requirements for the common types of retirements.
  • Computation – How your retirement annuity is computed.
  • Creditable Service – Rules showing the civilian and military service that can be used to compute your FERS retirement benefits.
  • Planning and Applying – It’s never too early to start planning for retirement in order to ensure it goes smoothly. Here you will find information to help ensure your retirement starts well.
  • Early Retirement – Explanation of the minimum retirement age and early retirement if your agency under goes a “reduction in force” or you are involuntarily separated other than for cause.
  • Types of Retirement – Learn about the age, service requirements and considerations affecting the various types of retirement.
  • Deferred – If you are a former Federal employee who was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62 or the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA).
  • Survivors – When a Federal employee dies, monthly or lump sum benefits may be payable to survivors. Learn about these Survivor benefits here.
  • Military Retired Pay – Adding military service to your civilian service
  • Service Credit – Payment to increase your annuity for civilian service when no CSRS retirement deductions were withheld or were refunded or for military service after 1956.
  • Former Employees – Options if you leave your Government job before becoming eligible for retirement.

Losing weight is so hard to do….

Some people can easily slough off the pounds (like my husband)…me on the other hand, it takes a lot of will power (which I don’t have) when it comes to food.  Like a lot of Americans, I turn to food for comfort and well, I just love it.

Because I am still in the military I have to watch my weight.  Right now I am a couple of pounds over and have to lose it.  HOW can two pounds be so difficult to remove? Maybe it’s because I’m older? My metabolism has slowed down?  I did some research regarding middle-aged women and found the following information:

According to USA Today’s article, Middle-age dieters hit a brick wall after 10 pounds or so, premenopausal women are having a difficult go at it:

The postmenopausal women in one study burned an average of 100 to 150 fewer calories a day just resting and doing their everyday activities, and they were less physically active for a total drop of about 200 calories a day after menopause, says lead researcher Jennifer Lovejoy, who now works for a health coaching company, Free & Clear in Seattle.

The lower metabolism appears to have to do with changing levels of estrogen and not changes in muscle mass, she says. And there is evidence that a lack of estrogen increases appetite and can cause specific cravings for certain foods, especially carbohydrates and fats. That means women need to be careful about consuming too many cookies, cakes, candy bars and chips, she says.

Lovejoy recommends that women in their early to mid-40s begin gradually increasing their physical activity and watching their dietary habits to help offset metabolic changes that can lead to weight gain with menopause.

I have noticed am craving more carbs and fats.  My total weight gain in the past 3 years has been almost 30 pounds.  Easy to gain, much more difficult to lose.

I do have a gym membership and need to get off my duff and quit complaining about the extra poundage around my middle and hips where I tend to gain.  Though most people don’t think I weigh what I do because I am tall and have a small bone-structure….the scale doesn’t lie.

Motivation and dedication are the key. Breaking up your goal in small manageable bites.  To think about losing 30 pounds is daunting but if I can break that down to 5 pounds a month by May I will have reached my goal.  I simply need to quit reaching for that cookie, extra helpings etc….sigh…a challenging road ahead indeed…………….