December 7, 2012
Do you know someone who is blind?
Have they done military service?
It does not matter how long ago that service was, or how short it was. The cause of their blindness does not matter. The fact that they once served means they are now eligible for help from Blind Veterans UK.
Blind Veterans UK is the new name for the charity formerly known as St Dunstans and they have recently launched the ‘No One Alone’ campaign which aims to spread the message that the charity has now widened it’s criteria for those who can seek help and assistance to anyone who has served and has since become blind.
It’s a simple message, but it can’t reach the people who need to hear it unless we all do our bit to spread the word.
Blind Veterans UK offer practical help, giving each blind veteran the skills and confidence to pick up their life and become independent again. They are there when families can’t cope and they stay with them when times are good. Blind Veterans UK is a community for life.
If you know or care for someone who served their country and has lost their sight, please get in touch with the charity.
You might not know that a blind person has served their country. There are many older people who have done National Service but who do not talk about it regularly. Why not ask them and find out?
Are you a health professional? Please visit this link to read how you too can help.
Freephone 0800 389 7979
Blind Veterans UK
12-14 Harcourt Street
April 3, 2012
The most important frame of mind to force yourself into when coping with your partner’s deployment is this:
You have to get yourself through this on your own.
He is not your crutch, you cannot rely on him, you cannot vent to him. If you rely on contact with him to keep you emotionally stable at some point the sudden lack of it will knock you sideways and leave you falling with no safety net. Of course when I say ‘alone’ no woman is an island, and there will be contact at times. The person who fixes you when you need fixing will be you and the things you put in place for yourself.
Now that you are in the right frame of mind, what ammo do you need in your deployment arsenal to make sure you are prepared for every eventuality?
MILITARY PARTNER DEPLOYMENT TOOLKIT
Some of these will apply to parents, siblings and children too
A General Power of Attorney will help you deal with any finances or assets that he needs you to in his absence. I provide a free (yes absolutely free!) Power of Attorney here. It was written by a solicitor and needs both of your signatures witnessed. Should you require a more complicated POA with restrictive clauses, ring a solicitor. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, practice crying on the phone to companies and playing the Afghan card – however this is no good if you need to act in his larger scale interests.
Take lots of photos and make lots of videos. This is generally accepted to be normal behaviour although on a personal level I must admit I never look at any of them when mine is away as they reduce me to a sobbing mess.
A Lasting Power of Attorney – this is a more complicated legal document than the general one so should be sought from a solicitor. It will mean you can handle your partner/sibling/child/parent’s interests should they lose mental capacity. It is a safety net should not the worst, but the next worst possible thing happen.
Wills. Without wishing to bring too much doom and gloom, it is not just your serving family member who can die, you can too. Why not go and get joint Wills together before they leave? You can sort out their lasting POA then too.
Now they have gone
A little sulk is always on the cards once you have been ‘deserted’. Most people I know have an ice cream evening, watch a few DVDs and do not have any friends or family around for a couple of days. Then it is time to stop moping and crack on, much as you would like to go to sleep and not wake up until they come home!
That person you can collapse in front of, crying on the floor. You may not need to do this for the entire six or seven months, but it is important you know who that person is, and that they know you might need them. It will probably happen on a birthday or Christmas, when you are supposed to be happy but you just don’t feel like it. If ‘that person’ is there and you can go into a quiet room and cry on them, all the better. Some people break down on bizarre occasions – I burst into tears once when my boss asked after my other half.
A safe friend. For the ladies, a ‘safe’ male friend is vital. When I say safe, I mean rock solid safe. There has to be absolutely NO chance this person can have or develop feelings for you. You will be at your most vulnerable and needy at points over the next six months and you will need big man shaped arms around you. There really is nothing better when you are low. Even better to have a few different safe friends, but again selection is vital otherwise serious problems may develop. (See later)
Your In Case of Emergency Person. This is the person who knows exactly what to do should YOU be injured or worse. They should be marked ICE in your phone. They should know how to call your garrison/regiment switchboard, who to ask for, exactly what squadron/company your partner is in, his/her full name, rank and service number and all of your details. This is to relay information about what has happened to you directly to the UWO (Unit Welfare Officer) so that your partner/family member can be informed immediately.
Event Planner. Set dates to look forward to, meals with the girls, trips out with the children. Count down to those milestones rather than the next time you will see your partner or family member again. The big numbers are far too daunting and the smaller leaps will go much faster.
His Aftershave/Her Perfume and one of her jumpers. A friend suggested vacuum bagging them to retain ‘their’ smell. Try it – it really works! Perfectly preserved for your sniffing pleasure.
Have the house as you like it. No more compromising on style and layout of your living room, shove candles everywhere and have the whole room smelling of flowers if you wish. It’s your six months to have everything exactly the way you like it, so make the most of it!
A Planned Holiday. Book a girly holiday, or a trip with your uni friends. Tell the regiment/commando/squadron where you are going and how long for, but don’t let him being away stop you going. He should not be the only one getting a bit of sun.
Shoeboxes, Blueys and Customs Declaration Stickers. Stock up on small boxes, supplies of blueys and a whole reel of customs declaration stickers. You might need to sweet talk your post office lady!
Small scales. You will need to weigh everything you send so if you have table top scales that can take up to around 3kg they will be perfect. Remember, BFPO will not take anything over 2kg, and I have heard countless stories of family members leaving Post Offices in floods of tears because the person behind the counter wouldn’t accept a parcel weighing 2.1kg. For care package contents ideas click here.
Your girly friends. You need them more than ever, and civvy ones are just as important if not more so than your military-partner friends. Hanging out solely with other separated wives will blur your perspective and keep you too wrapped up in your partner’s deployment. Close civvy friends are key to helping you remember that you are a civilian yourself with a civilian life that existed before you met your partner. For ‘your’ six months, you need to cope as if your other half does not exist. This may sound cruel but it is a good way of putting a mental block on your emotional reliance of him and helps you to draw from your own strengths and ingenuity. You must be positive about it – you CAN do it, and your girls can help you do it.
One for the girls; adult toys. I need say no more.
Home phone Bluetooth. This is brilliant. You can get phone systems that link with your mobile via Bluetooth so that no matter where you leave your phone at home (upstairs on charge for example) the house phone will ring when your mobile does, and you can talk to whoever is ringing on it. It even tells you who is calling.
Car Bluetooth. Same principle, and vital if they ring when you are driving.
Polaroid Camera. Just a bit of fun, you can get second hand ones for upwards of £30 online, but really any camera will do. Why not take a picture a day or week and post them to him, or create an album of your tour diary photos for him to look at when he gets back.
What you DON’T need
The dangerous friend. There will always be a predatory male who cosies up to you during your partner’s tour. For some of you there will be more than one. It is very easy to reply to texts when you are lonely and it is even easier to agree to go for daytime coffees and use this person to unload your problems onto. USE YOUR SAFE FRIEND! You may be in denial about your dangerous ‘friend’ but deep down you know you are treading a slippery path that could end your relationship. You don’t want that, so go home, stare at pictures of your partner, then ring your safe friend (or a girly friend) and arrange to meet up with them instead. You’ll thank me later, I promise.
Wife-and-girlfriend-mass hysteria. This will happen every tour regardless, but for your sanity it is best to stay out of it. Unless the person who has been killed is the husband of your best friend, don’t get involved with the frantic texting and gossipy phone calls. It will only make you more worried about your other half or family member. Easier said than done, I know. Yours may not even have seen what happened, or been around at all. They could be operating in completely different areas of Afghanistan from others in their regiment.
Panicking over missed calls. They WILL ring back, you may just have to wait a few days. It could even be in the next ten minutes. If you do a job where you can’t have your mobile on you (or even on at all) this can be particularly distressing, especially if you come home late at night to two forlorn sounding voicemails. Have a tactic for when this happens – write him a long email or ebluey telling him what you were up to that day.
Arguing with him. Fighting down the telephone or via email over (relatively) petty things is bad for the pair of you. If you feel like ranting, write the email and then save it into your drafts and delete later.
What you need the most though is positive mental attitude… you can do this. You may have done it before, if you have, it won’t be the same but you will be better at coping this time. If you haven’t, just remember that lots of others have and we are all still standing. If we can, you can. Have a little faith in your own strength. You never know, you may surprise yourself…..
February 22, 2012
You own a company and you had some staff leave recently, so you advertise to fill a vacant position in your business. Two applicants attend for interviews. One is a woman in her thirties, another in her mid-twenties. Both are strong candidates, but according to her CV the woman in her thirties has moved jobs every two years and one of her recent positions was not entirely relevant to the role she is applying for within your company. When you ask her about this, she tells you that it is because she has had to move house every two years. Her husband is in the military. Alarm bells ring; does this mean that she will only be in your company for two years? Is it worth investing time and money training her if she is likely to leave? Will she definitely move again after two years? Suddenly her appropriateness for the role and depth of experience become irrelevant; she is now being assessed as a potential flight risk.
It is one of the remaining employment taboos. Discrimination law prevents employers asking female interviewees if they are planning on having children and a man about his sexual orientation. Why then are employers still flummoxed when it comes to military partners?
Three years ago Harriet Harman, the then Equalities Minister spoke to many military wives when she completed a UK-wide tour of service bases. She reported that what military wives want has changed – that today’s military wives are modern women struggling to survive in the 21st Century and want the same training and employment opportunities as everyone else. They felt excluded from progress enjoyed by civilian society and hindered by a lack of understanding on the part of employers.
Difficulties faced by military partners range from relocating back to the UK from places such as Cyprus and Germany to gaps in CVs due to living in areas where work was not available, or taking a break to bring up children, not to mention having to move frequently to weird and wonderful places. They are hampered as more often than not they are the only childcare provider due to extensive periods of absence on the part of their spouse.
Since becoming an Army partner myself I have been impressed with the ambition and drive of the friends I have made. One of my dearest friends not only holds down a high end business career and motherhood for a girl of primary school age whilst her husband is on a two year posting (away from her – she is living unaccompanied) but she has also started her own military childrens’ charity* at the same time. Others are at university pursuing demanding careers in law and business, a fair section are in the military themselves and some are in medicine, photography and teaching. What impresses me the most is how they manage it all in the face of constant upheaval and emotional turmoil of separation and the stresses this brings, not to mention effectively being a single parent.
I do not know why anyone would not want to employ a woman who can multitask so beautifully, who shows such strength of resolve and determination not to let circumstance restrain her goals. It is a tough life being a military partner and it teaches you to draw on many qualities one previously would never imagine they possessed. I often make use of my new found ability to patiently wait for hours on end at work (not as fun as it sounds at two in the morning, believe me.)
Work is important. Work gives you a sense of self-worth and a social life outside of military life. It broadens life experience, tests your talents and can be turned into a fabulous career that brings so much happiness. Friendships are made, personal qualities developed and the wonderful part is that you get to bring some extra money home to your family. Steadily building up a career through experience whilst married to the military means that if your partner has problems finding work when they leave you can take over the reins should you so desire.
So I was, without exaggerating at all, ecstatic to see the new initiative Recruit For Spouses, founded by Heledd Kendrick. A recruitment website with a difference, Recruit for Spouses has already signed up the likes of British Telecom, Siemens and Golly Slater to its books, and has more than 400 military spouses signed up with skills in everything from accountancy to the law. The venture charges employers a nominal fee with all profits going to service charities. “Being a military spouse has its own unique challenges and when I first set out to create the company, my vision was to have a site that was helpful, interesting and would provide them with rewarding work,” said Heledd.
“Life is changing, and with Government cuts we are moving into a society where spouses want and need to work in gainful employment. The site is not just for wives – we would love to hear from men who have a wife in the forces too,”
“We are also working with the Women’s section of the Royal British Legion who have helped get us this far and we are extremely grateful to them for their on-going support,” she said. “We are also honoured to have Lady O’Donoghue as our Patron. She’s been a military wife for 38 years and has moved more than 24 times. She has offered some sage advice to our fledgling business.”
The website welcomes visitors, explains how the enterprise works, and adds: “Whether you’re looking for a job locally or you want to find work that is flexible or from home so that you can fit it around kids, exercises or those pesky dinner nights, we hope we can help. The companies who use us will not be disappointed as they are tapping into a global diverse workforce of skilled professionals who are resourceful and adaptable.”
*Army Children’s Charity mentioned above – My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures
February 10, 2012
I use this site to (repeatedly) state to my readers that they are not alone in their darkest moments, when the pressures of being in a relationship with something that for the most part appears to be an armed shadow or a voice on a telephone take their toll, and they feel like screaming or smashing something. Here is some statistical proof for you. You really are not alone – and what is really telling is that the members of the military are as concerned and stressed about their relationship situations as we are on the outside.
The following are recent search terms that people have typed into internet search engines that have resulted in hits on my page. They are verbatim, unedited. Some of them were typed in in excess of 40 times:
i hate being a military girlfriend
i can’t deal with my boyfriend being in the army
how do you cope with your partner being in afghan
how to not worry military girlfriend
second thought about waiting deployed boyfriend
1st time army girlfriend. what to expect.
army boyfriend didn’t come back to me after end of his tour
boyfriend in the falklands
why should you break up with boyfriend before going into military
how to deal with being an army girlfriend
leaving gf for army anything i can do for her?
how to cope with being an army girlfriend
does the military fly troops home for the death of a girlfriend or fiance’
how to deal with being a military girlfriend
did your girlfriend leave you while in army
is it easy to be in a relationship in the british army
if im in the army and my bf is in the navy can we date
how to have a relationship when your partner is in the army
support for afgan shoilders girlfriends
how the army affected my relationship with my boyfriend
being an army girlfriend
i am a widowed army wife
army girlfriend problems
how to tell wife i want to join forces
having a girl back home in the army
can’t handle being military girlfriend
how to cope with being a military girlfriend
army girlfriend stress
what to expect as an army girlfriend
i havent heard from my boyfriend in 3 weeks in afghanistan
being a soldier’s girlfriend
army girlfriends who have partners on tour
how long has it been since you heard from boyfriend in afghanistan?
is it easy to be in a relationship in the british army
crap a soldier’s girl takes
did your girlfriend leave you while in army
army ruined my relationship
my girlfriend can’t stand being away from me
See what I mean? That was just a small taster, too. Now to cheer you up a bit more, here are some hilarious and quite frankly bizarre search terms that have caused hits on my blog. They have brought me many laughs and sometimes caused me to question humanity itself….. Enjoy!
sexual assault Catterick <—– there have probably been a lot of these, good luck with that search
visiting slags <— like at a slag zoo?
armyslags.com <—- they have their own website now? Hopeful much
songs for army girlfriends <—- who would search for this?
the song for prisoners wives <— they want a song for chuffing everything
is bfpo faster than regular post <—- someone is in for a disappointment
i want to marry a cop <—– umm.. OK? Why type it into Google though
how to marry a cop <—— is this the same person? Keen
what a special forces soldier needs in a wife <—- given up on Police and decided to go for them instead?
married to policeman<—- Hurrah! looks like she was successful
being the girlfriend of an army <—- she must be very, very tired
shave bum fluff or let it grow <—– genuinely can’t believe some poor boy consulted the internet over this
a message to shout at girl who took my boyfriend <—– get over it. He’s not your boyfriend any more
my friend stole my boyfriend how to get back <—— same as above
british army shit <—— Oh, bless you.