Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Nov 12

11/11

It’s Veteran’s Day. At least it is for a few more minutes (or was, by the time I get this posted).

I know this because of the onslaught of emails telling me about sales. I also know it because many of my friends on Facebook have changed profile photos or cover photos. I know many people who have served, many of whom I met while I was married to someone who was in the military.

Veteran’s Day is also a reminder of everyone I know has served, has family members who have served or has sat at home during a long deployment while their significant other was in a war zone. There are many more of these people than I anticipated. I often forget. I’m willing to bet you have similar feelings on this day every year, that you’re surprise by how many people known to you who have connections to the military, even if you’ve never served yourself, have never lived on a base or live somewhere without a heavy military influence.

It is because of these people, most of whom I like, many of whom I respect, and a few of which I love dearly, that I cannot post this on Facebook. I would not want to take away from their posts or the support they’re receiving. In fact, as I type this, NCIS is playing in the background, and two characters are musing about the type of person who would sign up to go to a war zone. Tony says “Crazy.” Ellie says “Noble.” Perhaps this very dichotomy is what has me tripped up.

Enlisting in the military takes you away from your friends and family, even if you only leave for basic training and school. You may be stationed across the country or world from them. Deployments put you in the middle of war zones, without most of the perks of first-world living. There are rigid protocols for fitness. You can expect to be on-call for your entire military career. There are a lot of sacrifices we don’t make in the civilian world, even though there’s definitely some shared sacrifices with some jobs.

None of this negates the perks, however. Free schooling, housing and medical. Pensions after just twenty years.  The military provides many people with resources that are hard-fought or even too expensive to be considered for many people. These resources are a real motivation for people who struggle to obtain them through other means. It’s often sign-up bonuses and a stable job that appeal to people who enlist, rather than their desire to “fright for freedom” or the American way.

There’s a stability provided that might be a stark reminder of how unstable life can be for those who has signed up for the military. I recognize this. I respect this.

Still, there are some people who never deploy. There are those who have short deployments that are few and far between. Training to survive and defend is forgotten as people work desk jobs for their entire career. I’ve seen it happen. People get all the perks while dealing with little more than an inconvenience.

There are enough people in the military who don’t respect their jobs, their sacrifices and their risks that I can’t help but wonder, “Why should I?” Perhaps they’ve earned the right by being in it, something I only came within grasp of when I was married to the military. Maybe I was lucky that my loved one came home time after time, with every limb in tact. Maybe I am jaded because I had the best experience possible.

Perhaps that’s the point. We never know whose life will be stable, which deployment will be one that we return from and who will escape from their service unscathed. But there’s entirely the risk that that the risk turns into a real sacrifice, that lives will be torn asunder, irrevocably changed. I guess I can’t argue against showing a little respect for those who take that risk. It’s not fair to revoke respect simply because the worst didn’t happen. In fact, I think I feel a little grateful for those who had it “easier.”

Happy Veteran’s Day.


Oct 05

In Which Cole Writes about Minimum Wage, Fast Food and Military Benefits

Every time I see this ridiculous meme floating around on Facebook in the response that we might possibly consider raising the minimum to $15 per hour for fast food workers or, you know, anyone who works hard, I just seethe. Here is it in all its glory:

Okay, rant – For those fast food employees striking for $15 an hour, let’s do some math. At $15 an hour Johnny Fry-Boy would make $31,200 annually. An E1 in the military makes $18,378. An E5 with 8 years of service only makes $35,067 annually. Hmmmmmm….. So you’re telling me, Sally McBurgerflipper, that you deserve as much as those kids getting shot at, deploying for months in hostile environments, and putting their collective asses on the line every day protecting your unskilled butt!

I spent a few years as a military wife, and while the base pay might not compare at first glance with the annual salary that, but there are a lot of perks that are awarded to service members and, by extension, their families. Here’s just a short list of perks I experienced as a military wife. Military.com has a whole list of benefits, too.

military benefits

This list doesn’t included bonuses for signing up, hazard pay during deployments and tons of other perks that I personally didn’t experience or am not familiar with.

What does this mean? That the $18,000 per year made by an E3 in any branch of the military is basically for non-essentials. There will never be a case in which a military member/family living on base will be without a home or utilities. Every public building on base has a phone for public use, which means you may not even need your own phone!

The salary will certainly go to some bills, including a vehicle, gas and insurance (which service members will likely get a discount on as a thanks for service). You’ll pay out of pocket for clothing and household items, which you can purchase on base without sales poker and blackjack online tax, but this comes nowhere near $18,000 per year. You could send your child to private school, waste hundreds on video games â?? Gamestop should consider building stores directly outside base gates! â?? or always purchase a brand-new vehicle.

Am I saying that military members shouldn’t make more than someone who works at McDonalds? Not really. The problem with the type of thinking that has motivated this post is the idea that fast food workers shouldn’t make $15 an hour because that’s the type of pay someone who works harder earns. The â??harderâ? job might be military or factory work or something such as being a doctor, which required years of expensive schooling. These things might all require more diligence or risk or education or experience. I’m not arguing that.

But if you’re only making $15 hourly at a risky or difficult job, you should also be paid more!

You are being fucked over just as much as the person flipping your burgers or delivering your pizzas. You are also suffering at the hands of a system that hasn’t ensured the minimum wage, and by extension, all other wages keep up with the cost of living. You’re just being fucked over a little less, which makes it manageable.

It might suddenly become more obvious if you’re making the same — or even less — as someone whom you deem has an easier job. But you should be fighting along with people who want to raise the minimum wage. It’s the right thing to do as a compassionate human being, and it will only help you in the long run, too.

There’s only one reason to oppose fair wages: because it hurts those who are wealthy and powerful. Those people are wealthy and powerful enough. Chances are, you’re not one of those people if you’re reading this. So stop acting like one of them. You have nothing in common. They will do nothing for you while continuing to take from you. You are better than that.


Sep 22

What the..

I just read the repeal against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was blocked. I guess supporting our troops is just too much to ask, eh?

Wil Wheaton had it right when he posted this:

Which one is gay?

I’m going to be sad now.


Aug 05

Strength: In Which Cole Doesn’t Feel Strong

Whenever I blog about Ryan being deployed or mention that my husband is in the military or even anything remotely related I always get a comment about how I must be so strong and how So and So doesn’t know how I do it. They certainly couldn’t. And I appreciate the thought. I appreciate that you listen when I bitch; although, truth be told, I don’t talk about it much here.

But I disagree.

I don’t feel strong. I feel miserable and lonely and frustrated and depressed. I don’t feel any different from how I did 4 years ago (except maybe the lonely). I don’t feel like I’m prevailing or going the extra mile or anything. I don’t feel like a different type of person than the rest of the world. I haven’t gone out of my way to be strong (which I think I have established as something I am not).

I simply do what I have to do. I have taken the only reasonable option there is and that is to be miserable, lonely, frustrated and depressed for the sake of being happy when my husband is by my side. It’s not an option to run back home and pretend this part of my fie never existed (especially with the kitties) or to become a crackwhore or a regular on Craigslist NSA. The only option I have to stick with it.

I find it hard to believe anyone else in my position would do anything different but, then again, I look at the those who have done everything (and worse) that I never even considered an option and I know I’m wrong.

But I still don’t feel strong.


Jun 29

I’m bad

And not like Michael Jackson – may he RIP. (Somehow I think it will be the first time he’s found peace). But bad at updating. I don’t to be one of those people who apologizes, whose only posts on their blog are about their lack of blogging. So I won’t. Instead I’ll talk about my last blog post.

It came on the heals of news that several of my friends are abroad for various reasons and, admittedly, I felt a rather sharp pang of jealousy. The idea of heading into the real world once more is frightening, especially in the current economic conditions. I worry that the Air Force is the only chance we’ll ever have to do anything and I don’t want to throw that chance away. Despite the fact that we lived in Japan, it wasn’t something I wanted to do or someplace I wanted to be.

In some ways I feel like my life plans are even further behind and/or unattainable because I married so young. All these friends of mine have graduated within the last year or so and are still single and that makes things so much easier. Of course, I would likely feel the same regret had Ryan and I not married. I guess there’s just not helping that but it still sucks sometimes to think about it.

Anyway, after discussing things with Ryan, we decided to stay the course of the plan we chose. It won’t be the life I left, but that doesn’t have to be bad, either. It’s a risk to take but it would also be a risk of he stayed in and we have no guarantee that any of the things which are causing us misery now would change. In my head, the idea of him staying in mostly sounded good only if certain things happen and, in reality, we just can’t control those things.

I don’t know if I feel any better but at least we’ve made our decision and I have a goal, of sorts. And if things really go bad, he can always reenlist and then we can say we tried, at least.


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