2014 November

Soldiers return from Iraq
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Alpha, Bravo, Charlie – Military Families Have A Language All Their Own

Celebrating and supporting military families is part of our mission at Gratitude Initiative, and November’s Military Family Appreciation Month gives us a great opportunity to highlight the unique qualities of the folks we serve. Military families have a language all their own. It’s an alphabet soup of terminology that few civilians understand, but military families master their ABC’s very quickly.

They know what Active Duty means, and understand what it means to Aim High or become Army Strong. For military families, Arlington is not a city, it’s a sacred destination. Brave, bold, and beautiful inside and out, military “brats” wear the moniker proudly. All military families can tell the difference between a BX and PX, and if they get the blues, it’s likely a uniform. A military family can navigate the chow hall, the chapel, or the commissary. They’ve trouped through castles, Chinooks, and the chain of command. Every military child knows what to do when the colors are posted or called, hand over heart, facing the flag. A military family comprehends the wrath of the DI, the draft, and the duty roster. They can point out the DMZ on a map, conduct a DITY move, and prepare for deployment in record time. Advocates for the underserved, they embrace the EFMP, a program to assist exceptional families with exceptional needs. They know a fort is not a pile of sticks, File 13 holds the trash, and the Fisher House offers a safe place to land. They understand phrases like First to Fight or The Few, The Proud.

Gratitude Initiative salutes and celebrates all that our military families give, and give, and give. They know how to say goodbye only too well. They’ve lived in Grafenwoehr, Garmisch, and Greenland. A Global Force for Good is their benchmark; honor their hallmark. Before they lose all their baby teeth, military kids know what an ID card is and where to use it. They ride in jeeps and jets and know what a jarhead is. They’ve eaten k-rations and love kids. In a military family, leadership is spelled LDRSHIP: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. They can share an MRE or call an MP. Never give up is their mantra, along with Oorah, or some version of the same.

Military families lead the Pledge of Allegiance; their kids know the difference between a Pentagon and a Purple Heart. They can use a P-38, especially during a PCS. PT is their formula for fitness. They’ve gone to school in Quonset huts and taken quinine tablets. Every military family member knows the difference between retreat and reveille. They salute the Stars and Stripes, have eaten their fair share of Spam, know how to stand down, stand up, and stand to. Semper Paratus, they’re always prepared. They know the sandbox is someplace in the Middle East, and a stairwell is just one more type of military housing.

Military families can navigate Tricare and handle TDY; most have seen the inside of a tank or a TOC. For military families, transition has always been a verb. They know their Uncle Sam, and use the USO in USAREUR. Veterans of modern wars, foreign wars, Cold Wars, and spiritual warfare, military families crave victory and repel defeat. Wounded warriors too numerous to name are surrounded by military families who will not withdraw or give up.

At Gratitude Initiative, we celebrate the military families we serve. Their workday never ends, their service is never complete, they simply finish their alphabet in a way few others understand…X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

About the author:
Robin Overby Cox is part of a military family comprised of her husband, MAJ (USA, Ret, Dec) Carlisle B. Cox III, her father, COL (USA, Ret, Dec) Lauren Overby, her brothers, LTC (USA, Ret) Stacy and Todd Overby, her father-in-law COL (USA, Ret, Dec) Carlisle B. Cox Jr., her son-in-law, MAJ (USA) Jeffrey Ryan Petty and numerous extended family members.  A librarian and writer, she authored Steel Will, Baker Publishing Group, 2014,with wounded warrior, SSG (USA, Ret) Shilo Harris. She’s lived on Army posts from Okinawa, Japan to Hohenfels, Germany, to everyplace in between and now calls College Station, TX her home. She’s committed to Gratitude Initiative because she knows first-hand about the support the children of our military and veteran families need and deserve.