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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Half My Heart is Coming Home From Afghanistan!

My husband finally took my hints (Hints...Umm...Let's pretend I was that subtle...) and sent me photographs of him in Afghanistan and I wanted to share them! Please keep in mind that these were taken with a 35mm $4 disposable camera, and then shipped through the heat (some actually were ruined from the heat, but at least I have some!) so they are not by any means gorgeous photographs, but they are better than nothing.

I have now been able to take a peak at Josh's living quarters. They are not by any means remotely like the photographs the ARMY showed before he left. I remember them saying that what we were shown would be the worst-case scenario, and Josh's living area is much, much "worst-case" than anything pictured at that briefing. Anyhow, though, Josh is healthy and will be home soon. I also want to say that I doubt he'll have the urge to go camping anytime soon...

**NOTE: I was sent pictures of the bathroom and toilet area (I DID say I wanted to see everything!) The areas were far worse than I thought they would be and given the nature of the room, I am just going to not gross everyone out and keep those pictures blog-free.

This is the collage Josh has on his wall. Well, the stocking was up from Christmas; I'll have to ask if it's still there, but I doubt it. I want to say that I immediately though, "Oh, porn on his wall. Nice."

...But then I quickly remembered/admitted that I sent that calendar to him, so I can't really go complaining about it, right? Man, wouldn't that be setting him up for failure? Lol!

Dun Dun Duh....
And this is his "room":

And this is their "hallway" separating Josh from his SEVEN (Yes, I said SEVEN) other roommates.

All I can say is that if this is how he has been living as an E6 with 10 years of service working a desk job at Branch, then I can ONLY IMAGINE how he would be living if he had the job he has had on previous deployments working infantry!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ride 'Em, Cowboy!

Welcome Grandpa Chiperno

So I have been a tad bit behind in my blogging; Grandpa Chiperno has been visiting and we have been going a mile-a-minute over here! If we're not at the park, we're out to eat, and then we're at a gym or in the backyard.

The heat isn't getting to my dad too bad; I think I have been complaining about the heat more than my dad is and he lives in Alaska! I guess I'm a wimp. :)

It's great to see my dad and to have help and company around this house once again! The first few days were rough. Stephen needs to adjust to someone new being home, but this second week has been going a lot better. His behavior has been far better than last week. He's using a lot more words and his attention span I can see expanding. You have to see the kid do crafts; He's a very serious artist.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Too Funny!

If you are pregnant
Have been pregnant
Or plan to be pregnant at anytime,
This blog may amuse you, too!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Saga Continues

I knew it would happen....

Last night before Josh even sat down at his desk he was pulled into one of bosses' offices. I'm going to go ahead and keep just whom this guy is off the blog, and show him more respect than it feels like he is showing us. Sure enough, just as I worried, my husband was pulled into his office to be yelled at.

That is exactly what I did not want to happen.

The same person who told me that he has been completely unaware of ANY soldier having any issue with branch I find out is the same man my husband one of the first men that Josh went to THREE months ago. He was supposed to sign the 4187, which we were first told needed to have all three signatures within two weeks. So the first man signed, the second man signed, and then the third man (this man) asked that Josh revise a sentence. Josh did so and brought the paper back to him, where it sat on his desk for an entire month. (Note: Definately past the two week mark in which we were originally told it had to be turned in by)

Josh and I had started to argue about this and he went back to the desk and took it to the next person up the chain of command who signed it without hesitation. Josh said this was, by Army rules, a big no-no, but we're at the point where our family and finances are on edge and where as we don't want to tarnish his Army resume, our son, our home, our marriage have to be more important then angering someone above him. I am told time and time again about the Army's "open door" policies and that a soldier cannot get into trouble for asking for help, but this is exactly what happened last night.

The man wrote me an email, I responded and told him who I was, then he didn't even take the time to respond further to me and at his first opportunity, before Josh could get to his desk, pulled him into his office to ream him. Oh, it gets better; This man sent me an email saying that no one has come to him Blah Blah Blah, but as soon as Josh sits down he demanded to know why Josh hadn't continued to wait for his help, although this was three months ago and this man is only now, after my ICE comments, realizing that the 4187 was no longer on his desk. Then he continues to go on about how he's helping several soldiers with problems at branch, therefore our issue isn't really such a big deal because other people are having the same problems.

Let me rant here as I have several times to my husband, but; I am not worried about anyone else. I am merely worried about my son, my husband and myself at this point. I am sick and tired of people saying that this is not a real concern because other people are unfortunate enough to be in the same boat.

I am just going to pray that the other two people that have said they are working on this are and that they will be successful. I am also going to continue to document who we have spoken with, when, what transpired, etc., then if it gets down to the 60-day marker where we need to be packing for Kentucky, then I will go to the Post General and name names and call the senator. Those things are ugly, they probably will not help us, but I feel like those are our only options.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our Military Hurdle

This morning I woke up to a phone call from a Master Sergeant "M". He had received the message I wrote through ICE and was looking into it. He said tomorrow he will be back at Fort Hood and speaking with branch on Josh's behalf, given that we had filled out the paperwork (which we have) that we had stated.

I was very excited to talk to Josh. We are both quite a bit relieved to be receiving "interest" in our hurdle and things are looking more positive than they were a week ago.

Once I got off the phone with Josh I had another email from another 'big head' who we'll call "CM". He said he needed to know who we are because you do not leave specific personal information on the ICE comments. He also said he has been unaware of any soldier having troubles with branch and that he has been trying to help families who both want to go to Kentucky and who do not. I wrote him back and said....

"Hi, CM. This is Stephanie Moody, wife of Joshua Moody. I did not include the personal information in the ICE comment because it said not to leave specific personal info in there.

Thank you for your reply. Just so you are aware, the day after I wrote the ICE comments, Josh had a talk with Lt. Col. Ch and then this morning I woke up to a call from (I am not sure of his rank) but a Mr. M. Both men were very nice and expressed interested in helping us out with these orders. Lt. Col. Ch also pointed out to us that we have only been here at Hood two years, and we were told that when you move to a duty station there is usually a three year minimum. I don't know if I am saying this all right or how accurate the information is in how it pertains to us.

I don't know that this is a serious problem, I just know that it is a serious concern of ours as a family. We would appreciate in any assistance we can get in this matter. I know Josh has been trying to work with his chain of command and how it was described to me that everyone in his command had been helpful, but he said that branch has the overall final decision and his branch manager has been less than helpful. I know that he has been trying to be careful not to step on toes here or to not properly follow the chain of command in order. He values his career and isn't trying to offend anyone or get on anyone's bad side.

Although recently Mr. M and Lt. Col. Ch said they were speaking to branch and more people have been willing to help, Josh is still slotted for Kentucky.

If there is more we can do or information that you need, please let me know and thank you very much for your time and consideration. I also went ahead and attached the 4187 to this email."

I then signed with all of my contact information and such.

After I read CM's Email, another came through from a Mr. DCW that said, "I am the Fort Hood Customer Service Officer and manager of the ICE Program. We have received your ICE comment below and have passed your concerns on the he Directorate of Human Resources to be looked into. Typically we do not get involved in chain of command issues; however, we have also forwarded this comment to the rear detachment commander responsible for you here on Fort Hood and the commander has informed me that they are forwarding this comment to your husband's commander.

Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me."

I wrote him back just thanking him for his understanding, time, and willingness to find us help.

There's a part of me who is nervous; I do not want to get Josh into any sort of trouble or tarnish his career, but I am even more afraid of Stephen's delays getting worse and of the financial strains of a move at this time. I really help that someone is able to help us and I feel very warm, very grateful right now.

Wish Us Luck!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My "Help Us" Plea

Josh and I have been looking with assistance with deleting the orders to Kentucky. We have tried everything it feels like! Today, I got the papers to get Stephen into the EFMP here at Fort Hood, and I also put in the paperwork to get him into one of the Head Start programs here. I am crossing my fingers and praying that we will be able to stay here and to utilize Head Start. The director was the one to take our paperwork today, and she was very friendly and positive about the ability to fit Stephen in.

This is the letter that I have forwarded around and put on the Army's ICE comments. It explains our situation pretty well as well as politely points out some "flaws" to being a military family. Here goes:

I am Stephanie; I am not military myself, but I am a dependent. My husband has been deployed to Afghanistan for over 12 months now with the 3d IBCT, 1st ID; We are hoping he will be home in 30-45 more days. I spoke with a nice lady today named Angela Oakley; I think she is a sort of assistant to General Lynch. She suggested that I come to this website and leave my messages through ICE.

My husband is part of the HHC BDE, 3-1 IN DIV where he works as a Battle NCO. He is an E6 and has been in the army a little over 10 years now. During this time, this deployment is his 5th deployment (1AD-Kosovo, 3ID-Kuwait & Iraq 02-03, 172nd SBCT-Iraq, 1ID-Afghanistan) and 5th duty station. His MOS is an 11B32S2B.

About three months ago he received “non-permanent” orders (a list with his name on it Identifying him to go to Fort Knox, KY) that said he was slotted to move with his unit to Kentucky. Ever since then, my husband has been trying diligently to find assistance to stay here at Fort Hood. His chain of command has signed papers (DA Form 4187) releasing him from his unit to be re-assigned to a different unit at Ft. Hood.

Where we are hitting a wall is with the civilian at branch (Branch Manager); She has replied to him saying there are no jobs for my husband here at Fort Hood, but when he went to his S1 they have been able to show my husband available jobs. My husband has then gone back to this woman at branch, and she has responded "You are currently stabilized with your unit thru the end of Oct 2010. There are no positions avail anywhere that far out on the system to consider you for. Recommend you check back with branch after the first of the year." I am confused at why she would insist on stabilizing him although he has already had the paperwork signed waving this. I am also confused why she would not let him take a job before December, since that is more than 90 days stabilization. I am also confused because he would most likely be moved to Kentucky before December, which I don’t understand how this could be called stabilizing.

My husband’s chain of command very supportive in trying to help him, but as they are all deployed and doing so many things, this cannot be their greatest importance. He has been told that he cannot go around DA and that they has the final say and not to make her mad. It confuses me that just one civilian at branch would have so much power over our family. I also thought the army had open door policies, so I do not fully understand why we are told to fear that this woman gets mad. Neither of us are trying to make her mad, but it is detrimental to our family that we stay at Fort Hood. We are both trying to be reasonable; My husband has even offered to re-deploy if need be to keep our family here at Fort hood.

Our son turns three in August, and he has speech delays. I have been receiving help for roughly 9-10 months with ECI services to help him. ECI is currently working on getting us into the EFMP, but we have not yet been accepted.(5.11.09 paperwork was turned in). I was only told about EFMP yesterday by the people at ECI. No one my husband spoke to or anyone I have spoken to about this in the last three months ever shared this program with me or we would have applied much sooner.

The speech pathologist, myself, and my husband are hoping to see improvements with my son’s development when his daddy returns home this June, but we fear that uprooting him to Kentucky and leaving his friends, his schedule, his home and the people that have been working with him for so long will set his development backwards that much further. We also fear the obvious financial strains.

With my husband returning in a month we should be excited, but it seems to be putting more strain on us because we are worried and feel like we’re running out of places to go to help us. The closer it gets to him coming home means the closer we are to moving to Kentucky and the less amount of time we have to get anything done. We fear of having a hardship with our son and our finances and the stress is putting a large strain on our marriage in addition to everything else. My husband loves being a part of the Army and I accepted his duties when I married him, but it scares me that we are having all of these problems due to a move, when there are jobs that should be open to my husband here at this base. I do not understand how the anyone would benefit by moving us again when it would hurt everyone in my family. My husband is willing to accept any job, even to redeploy, just to keep us here at this base we would be so thankful.

Another thing that baffels me, is I thought when you came to a duty station you were to stay there a minimum of three years, but we haven't evne been here at Fort Hood two years, much less three. Why are we being forced to move AGAIN so soon?

I hope I have explained things accurately. I apologize; I am not trying to “pester” anyone, nor am I trying to get my husband into trouble in any way. I am just really looking for any outlets there may be that we do not know about.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Busy Bee

Today is Mother's Day and I've got to say, it's sad without Josh home. :(
Stephen's not quite at the age where a day is anything other than a "Stephen-day". Nothing was bad about today; In fact, my husband let me know that he's finally taking pictures for me. (YAY!)

We also have some great news: Josh sat down with a Lt. Col. last night. This is one of the 3 men who signed off three months ago releasing him from the unit. My husband came in with all of his paperwork and said he did "this/this/and this", and then the LC (we'll call him that) asked what branch said. Josh showed him an email from them that pretty much told him to eat dirt and the lc made copies and told Josh how he would go about escalating this. He also pointed out to us that we have been at Fort Hood less than two years and when the Army sends you to a duty station, it is supposed to be for at least three years.

He was nice. He listened. He said he would take it from here, and Josh says he's a very smart man and he believes he will follow through. I just hope he does because right now, Josh will be home in roughly 30 days and then we'd only have another 90 days here if those orders do go through. I do not think we could find a solution for our home and with Stephen's speech in that short amount of time. Furthermore, when Josh gets home I want to spend time with Josh/daddy and not fret over moving and getting 101 things set up. I believe our family deserves some time to just enjoy eachother and 90days hardly provides for that if you factor in a move.

Other than that, we have a full week. I have several paper packets to hand in various places, as well as mommy meetups with the Real Moms of Bell County, I have Birthdays and little projects I have been working on and trying to finish. In addition to the stuff I'm doing to keep busy, my dad will be here Friday (YAY!) Stephen is speaking a lot more these past two weeks and I know Grandpa Chiperno is going to just love spending time with him. Also, this means we're just that much closer to Josh coming Home. Thank God.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stupid Mother's Day

I regret getting out of bed today. Do you ever have those days?

I was giving Josh a hard time last night; Although I have given him the "heads-up" several times now that Mother's Day is just around the corner, last night he asks me, "When is it again?" So this tells me that it's impossible for him to get any kind of a card or letter in the mail in time to reach me by Mother's Day. I started giving him a hard time about how he doesn't ever forget Father's Day.

So this morning I wake up to a very sweet email from my husband. Where's the bad day in that, you might ask. Well it included a $400 spa package as a Mother's Day gift. Not only was the package worth half of that (maybe) but with this fear hanging over us of moving to Kentucky, paying a mortgage and rent, this fear of losing our asses and our credit scores, well, I want to sit on every dime that we can. I don't want to buy the truck he has been dreaming of. I don't want a vacation, and I certainly wouldn't dream of spending $400 at the spa. The email even said, "Bring a friend with you." I have some great friends, but I wouldn't fathom ever spending another $400 on them to come to a spa with me. An $800 spa day is completely out of the question.

My wedding ring, which is still MIA cost us between $230-260's, but now my husband wants to spend nearly double that for a Hallmark Holiday.

When Josh left I mailed him a digital camera with a SD card asking him to take pictures and if he couldn't mail them to send me the card. After he had it for 3 or 4 months and never used it, I sent him a 35mm camera telling him to just take pictures and send the camera back to me. He has now been gone 11 months and I have yet to get one stinkin' picture although that (and cards, if cards count as a present) has been the only thing I have asked for. So he forgets Mother's Day and instead of finally using the 35mm camera and mailing it back to me, he goes and finds a spa package.

Dessi told me when I got married that you can't get mad at your husband when he does something nice for you because if you do he won't want to do it again. This makes sense to me, but seriously, with the other things going on I don't think it was appropriate. When I was messing with him last night I was not trying to guilt him into buying me something "good."

I got these emails on my way out the door and the stupid computer kept freezing on me when I was trying to respond and I started crying. I wrote him an email in caps saying I adamantly do not want a day at the spa and that we don't have money to throw away like that. He was stunned at my reaction and insulted. So now I started my day off with a fight with my deployed husband. I should have been nicer and more polite, which I had planned to be when he called, but he didn't call thanks to my email. I needed to sugar coat my response more and now we're arguing long distance over a stupid present.

Then I found an ant pile in my yard.
Then I got an email without the nicest tone from an old friend.

Now I just want to lay in bed, sleep, sulk, and stay in that bed until June.
I regret getting out of bed today. Do you ever have one of those days?