This month’s ‘Post with the Most’ is Fort Rucker, AL. Fort Rucker covers about 63,000 acres and is known in the military community as the home of Army Aviation. It is home to several Aviation Regiments and leadership academies. Fort Rucker is in a prime location that offers a wide variety of things for you and your family to do and the weather is pretty decent with warm summers and cool, mild winters. We also have the inside scoop on Fort Rucker from spouses who live there!
“Can be 80 degrees one day and 40 the next. Winters are fairly mild, sometimes you have periods of low 20′s. Summers are HOT and HUMID!”
Military Spouse, Claire Carroll
Fort Rucker is located in the middle of three Alabama communities. Right outside the gates of Fort Rucker you will find the city of Enterprise, AL, Daleville, AL, and Ozark, AL. All three of these communities are unique in the amenities they will be able to offer you and your family. About thirty minutes from Fort Rucker you will also find an array of shopping and eating spots in Dothan, AL.
Fort Rucker Commissary
Meanwhile, on post you will find the typical installation amenities we have all come to depend on. You will find a PX and a commissary. You will also find a wonderful aviation museum. My own soldier recently graduated from SLC at Fort Rucker. The graduation took place in the Aviation Museum and I must say, it was a sight to see, with wonderful exhibits and more helicopters and planes than you can imagine! Our son was in hog heaven and our whole family enjoyed the experience, so make sure you check the aviation museum out when you get a chance!
Fort Rucker housing is overseen by Corvias Military Living, formerly known as Picerne. Over 725 new homes have been constructed with 25 more homes being built in 2013, and some housing still undergoing renovations.
“Housing is available in brand new, remodeled, and some needing to be remodeled. There is a designated housing area for flight students to accommodate their short term assignments and allow their families to accompany them.”
Military Spouse, Tina Shifflett
Fort Rucker Elementary School
For your elementary aged children you will find Fort Rucker Primary School for Pre-k through first grade. You will also find Fort Rucker Elementary for those children in second grade through sixth grade. For older children you choose from three school districts located right outside the gates of post. You will find links to those districts in our Fort Rucker ‘Post with the Most’ segment on Army Wife Network. The link can also be found at the end of this blog.
There are many ways to get involved on Fort Rucker from ACS to the Fort Rucker Spouses’ Club. Off post you will find all your favorite shopping spots including Walmart, Target, and some shopping malls too. For those who are more into fine dining, you will find several options to indulge in. You will find most of the common chain restaurants such as, Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, Ihop, and Panera Bread, to name just a few. However, you will also find some creative culinary gems such as Cheeburger Cheeburger, Cupcakes Y’all, Mick’s Café, and many, many more!
“Shopping in Dothan! Dothan would be the place to go for anything you wanted, especially if you didn’t want to go to Walmart again. You can find most things there – Barnes & Noble, Target, Publix, Five Guys… there’s a lot there.”
AWN Team Member, Emily Grace
If you are looking for some fun events for the family, then you are in the right area! Dothan is home to the National Peanut Festival with much of the nation’s peanuts coming from this area. Every November they hold a huge festival in honor of the peanut – from what I hear – you can’t miss it! If you are looking for some weekend fun, Fort Rucker is only about 2 hours from Panama City Beach, FL. Nothing like being able to take a break and head to the beach with the family for some fun in the sun!
As you can see, Fort Rucker has a ton to offer your military family! You can learn more about Fort Rucker at our ‘Post with the Most’ AWN Segment, here. Just remember that every post has something unique to offer and your time at Fort Rucker or any post is what you make of it. Be sure to take advantage of your time at Fort Rucker or any post that you call home, courtesy of the U.S. Army. J
Like most Americans I thought Memorial Day weekend was a weekend off filled with Bar-B-Qs , fun, and the official start of the summer…. That was until last Memorial Day. On Memorial Day 2012 I stood on an Army tar mat with tear streaked cheeks and watched as they lowered a flag covered casket off a plane that contained the love of my life. My husband had lost his life in Afghanistan, and came home on that fitting day. That moment Completely changed the meaning of Memorial Day for me. It no longer was just a weekend of fun, but a day of remembrance. A day meant to honor our fallen, and remember the loss that so many have experienced. A Mother who lost a child, a Widow or Widower that lost their spouse, a child who lost their parent, a Soldier that lost their Battle Buddy. Enjoy your day, enjoy your family, but remember to take a moment and pause to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country…. because that is the true meaning of Memorial Day.
…and today Oklahoma has a big chunk of mine. As Army wives we can lead a nomadic existence, moving wherever and whenever duty calls, often far away from family and friends. When someone asks you where you’re from, what do you say? More often than not, for me, I cite my hometown of Oklahoma City. I am proud to be an Okie, even though my okie accent may now have hints of the deep South mixed in. And I cherish my okie friends and the state where I was born and raised through college.
The past few days have broken my heart as we have all watched the devastation an EF-5 tornado can bring. All I know is to quote Psalm 34:18(NIV), The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Oklahoma is a state of strong faith and I know after talking to many of my friends that their faith will carry them through these hard times. I want to share some of their stories.
Lori Marshall, a Marine wife and Dean of Students over Dibble Public Schools, shares her thoughts:
“First of all, my husband’s name is Jason Marshall and he is a Gunnery Sergeant, active duty status. We live in Blanchard now, just moved here in December from Norman (about 10 miles south of where the tornado hit). As a school administrator, mother, and native Oklahoman, my heart sank yesterday when I started hearing that a huge tornado was headed directly for Newcastle and Moore. Immediately after the tornado hit, I knew right away things were very bad. The path the tornado had taken was through very populated areas. My brother and his family live in Moore, so I instantly started trying to call and text my mother to see if she had heard anything. Luckily, my nieces and nephews had been picked up early by their babysitter and were safe. My brother was frantically trying to get home to see about their house and check on his wife. Janna drives a delivery truck for Fed Ex and was caught in the storm. She was hit with flying debris while trying to take refuge in the Moore Medical building. They have showed her van several times on tv. She is very lucky to be alive! We are blessed.
During this time, I also started hearing about the many schools that were in the area. I have been in education for 13 years and have lots of friends that teach throughout the state. One of them, just happens to be the counselor at Briarwood Elementary, one of the schools that was hit. I finally got news just before 8pm that she was safe and everyone had made it out alive there. Several injured but Alive, as she kept saying!”
Briarwood Elementary photo by Chad Lowe
Lori went on to give her advice, as an educational provider, on how to talk with your children on such tragedies:
“Natural disasters can be especially traumatic for children and teenagers. They have not had the experiences and time to develop coping skills to help them deal with emotions. Therefore, they look to significant adults in their lives for guidance on how to manage their reactions after the immediate threat is over. We must remain calm and reassure them that we are going to do everything in our power to keep them safe. There was a mother on the TV yesterday that said to her daughter, This will never happen to you again. I personally feel that this was the wrong thing to say and could prevent her daughter from preparing for other life changing events in the future. Therefore, I think it is important for us to let our children talk openly about what has happened, their fears, and teach them life lessons to help them in case they (heaven forbid) have to go through something like this again.”
Moore resident, Natalie Schnell, shares her story:
“We are trying to get to our home. We have dogs trapped inside and no clue about damage. Our storage unit is gone for sure. We saw it on news footage. We know Meg’s (daughter) old cheer sponsor and newborn were killed. Her prior teacher and church member from Plaza Towers has passed away. Tyler (son) is almost three and his daycare was hit and so much of what he knows is gone. We need guaranteed loans so we can protect our families. Schools need shelters. Moore has no public shelters and that is wrong. Anyway, I am very angry and scared and numb.”
She goes on to explain how their day went on May 20th. “We had doctor appointments in Edmond. We saw the storms would be worst around 3pm when Meghan would be heading home from school. We were supposed to be there at 1:15pm but they called to see if we could come early. We debated whether to take out the kids. We decided to take Tyler out and Meg too. Jimmy(husband) was done at 2:30pm but we decided to just wait for fear of getting caught in rain and traffic. We watched it and we knew. My brother in law has the Sonic at 19th and Telephone road. He is there trying to salvage food. I am sitting here in rain and traffic just wanting to check on my home and our pets. We bought food and water but we need Jimmy’s seizure medicine and blood thinners desperately. We were planning a garage sale for the weekend after next in an attempt to raise some money towards a storm shelter. Everything we had put in storage for that is gone.”
Fortunately, after talking to me, Natalie and her family were able to get back into their home. It is still there, sans the storage unit. But there are so many without homes, now. The following is a picture of what’s left of Moore resident, Bryan Wood’s home.
resident of Moore, Bryan Wood’s home, photo Bryan Wood
So many people need help and the community is rallying to their aid. There are so many churchs helping out and Red Cross donations are pouring in. Pray for Oklahoma City, a facebook page dedicated to providing information on Oklahoma support efforts, provided the following news on Tuesday:
“The National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players Association announced today that, in response to the destruction caused by the tornado in the Oklahoma City area, they will contribute $1 million to support relief efforts. The NBA and the Players Association will join forces with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other disaster relief agencies that are mobilizing their resources to continue the recovery and rebuilding efforts. The Oklahoma City Thunder has also donated $1 million and Thunder star Kevin Durant, in addition, has pledged $1 million to the relief efforts and several NBA teams, players, and legends are contributing to aid in the recovery.”
Organizations, big and small, are offering their services. Kyle Upchurch of GrowOKC, http://www.growokc.com/ updated his facebook page and explained how he has a chainsaw and a tree service. He wrote:
“For my neighbors and friends in South Oklahoma City, we are ready to help and we of course won’t be handing you a bill. Be very careful about people trying to profit off our hometown tragedy. Do you have ways you can help? Maybe you have some blue collar hands that can help. Feel free to message me if you would like to join in and help our neighbors. As Mr. Rogers said, Look for the helpers. It’s time to be a helper, Oklahoma.”
Prayers are being answered and there is reason for hope. Over 100 people were rescued Monday night in Moore. They were found under debris tucked away in their storm shelters. Also, the confirmed deaths dropped dramatically, after they had previously been reported to increase. It seems some victims were mistakenly counted twice in the chaos of the moment. There is light on the horizon.
Photo provided by Pray for Oklahoma City fb page
Oklahoma City resident, Amanda Salisbury, sums up my feelings well, on the future of this grief-stricken heartland, “Something I admire about Oklahomans – and Americans, really – is that we share one beating heart in times of tragedy. Recent times in our country lead us to believe our hearts are not so consistent. What could be more improbable than democracy working well and constantly?
But then my state is ripped at the seams, the place where an old wound had never fully healed. Hearts stopped. Not in the exaggerated way we liken surprise to a stopped heart. Not in the way of melodrama.
They actually stopped.
Lives and livelihoods and safe havens – wiped from the face of the earth. Still, our hearts beat. Through new threats and painful discoveries, our hearts beat. Through teardown and cleanup and grief and rebuilding, our hearts will continue to beat.”
She goes onto say, “I will tuck my children into bed this night and I will slyly find their young heartbeats. And I will linger there, hoping against all seeming probabilities that the beats continue. Because I should, I will break our connection and thank my God upon every remembrance of them. And the heart of Oklahoma beats on.”
“If you want to make God laugh then tell him about your plans.” Woody Allen is credited with that gem, but I’m sure he probably heard it first from an army wife! Now I’m sure every soul has given God a chuckle or two, either with their wild childhood dreams or maybe those college majors that constantly changed, (and were never quite used); but when you say, “I do,“ to a military man, you better believe that any well-conceived plans will be sure to come unvraveled faster than your husband’s cheap, green army socks.
Before I fully back up that statement, a little info on me. I am married to Warrant Officer Neil Sankey who is currently in training this summer at Fort Gordon, Georgia. We may move in August, but not sure which way the wind will blow at the moment. He may take on a civilian job again while staying reserve status. He could also decide to go the AGR (Active Guard Reserve) route. Perhaps, God will surprise me and there will be a butterfly apocalypse tomorrow! We have a seven year old son, Caden, who is now getting tired of moving. I’m hoping our next location will be more permanent.
I noticed that a few past newbies shared a list of fun, random facts about themselves, which I thought were great. So I’ve decided to share five fast and fun facts about my time as an army wife. Many of these facts have surely sent the heavens shaking in deep, loud belly laughs.
- First of all these facts may not be as brief as promised, because I tend to be a bit long- winded. And if they bore you I have included a pic of the DH (darling husband) for you to gaze at (don’t they look great in uniform!).
- First fun fact – we have been married for fourteen years and he has been a part of the Army either on active or reserve status for all of that time. That fact alone would have surprised the newly-wed me. Not the fact that we would still be married, but the fact that he would still be Army after fourteen years. We met at Oklahoma Christian University where I got a degree in English and he majored in Bible. Upon graduation we went our separate ways, and for him that was pretty far off to Korea. He decided to enlist and get training in computers. We ended up missing each other and got married once he returned. That was back in 1999. Back then, wars were scarce, so I guess I really didn’t see him leaving me again for a while. I figured he’d do a few more years and then he’d get out. Little did I know…
- We had just moved from Fort Jackson, South Carolina to Fort Huachuca, Arizona when September 11, happened. Shortly thereafter rumors swirled that Neil’s unit would be one of the first to go to Afghanistan to set up computers and networks. I had no idea how long the war would really last. That first deployment was one of the hardest for me, as I was so far from family and friends and had to learn to be more independent. Thankfully, I had my church family and the support of other army wives. I also picked up a little Yorkshire Terrier named Missy in Arizona. Well, they told me she was 100% Yorkie, but later found out she’s a mix of Silky as well. She is 100% a mess!
- After the stint in Arizona, Neil decided to re-enlist. Just a few years, he promised. He would get a bonus and be able to pick his next assignment from a list of available locations. We chose Arkansas because it was closer to my family in Missouri. Everything was packed, car was loaded, orders in hand and we were off. Can’t even remember the name of the base now…as we were only there for like five minutes! Yes, God must have been laughing, as I’d googled Little Rock Arkansas and made plans to live there for at least a year. However, after Neil showed up they couldn’t find his name on the list anywhere for his unit. Come to find out he was part of that Arkansas unit, but the part that was being deployed to the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. We were going to live in a suburb of New Orleans! Well, that was a bit longer drive. We sucked it up and left. New Orleans was beautiful, but it wasn’t long until Neil was deployed again to Kuwait. I had a hard time with that deployment. I remember dropping him off at Fort Polk, Louisiana and trying to be strong. On the drive back I was crying and speeding. I got pulled over. I will never forget how nice the policeman was when he learned about my situation. He said he just wanted me to slow down and be safe. It was just a warning.
- After close to a year Neil returned and things started to look up. We had fun roaming around the French Quarters and were looking forward to the future as he was just about ready to get out of the Army. I also got pregnant, which wasn’t really a surprise, as we had planned to have a child around the time he was getting out. I had lots of plans – there in New Orleans. Lots of plans to enjoy my full pregnancy, give birth, and then move as soon as Neil got a good civilian job offer. Well, the fortune tellers around Jackson Square didn’t tell me there would be a massive hurricane and I would have to evacuate and give birth while living with my parents around Kansas City, Missouri. Hurricane Katrina did so much damage to everyone’s plans and lives that year in 2005.There were quite a few twists and turns for us, but thankfully, I did give birth to a healthy son. Although Neil went back to sort through our things, I still haven’t been back to New Orleans since 2005. I hope to visit again and bring my son along next time.
- After my son was born, Neil spent some time transitioning back into civilian life, which wasn’t easy. We moved to Texas and were lucky to live closer to my twin sister, Cindy. Neil eventually decided to enlist in the reserves to make some extra money and allow us some affordable health insurance through Tricare. He finally found a good job with Lockheed Martin and got a promotion through moving to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His reserve unit encouraged him to apply to be a Warrant Officer, so we decided to make it happen and move to Fort Gordon for training. Along the way I got a MFA degree in Writing which was paid for by his GI Bill. It is great to have training in something that you love and I encourage anyone who has a passion for writing to go for it. I have had some flash fiction published and am working toward publishing a novel. For my last ‘fun fact’ I want to share a little about how I would like my future posts to run. I would like to add some creative inspiration in the form of poetry, short-short stories, or even original artwork to the end of each of my blogs. I invite any army wife who has something to contribute to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing I have learned through all of the above trials and tribulations is to never think too far ahead and enjoy the present for the gift that it is. Also, when you are going through hard times don’t be scared to ask for help and join any support groups on your base. Don’t forget the benefits of the FRG (Family Readiness Group) and a church that you can feel comfortable with and gain support from. I look forward to sharing posts each month that will help every army wife along on their own journey!
I will unashamedly admit: I do not like running. Sometimes I even hate it: legs feeling tired, ankle hurting from pronation, stitch in my side. I would much rather be in the gym lifting weights or riding a bike outdoors. I am not a runner. And sometimes the thought of running a 10K (6.2 miles!!) scares me a bit.
But in April, I signed up to run a 10K on June 9th. I paid the fee, set up my fundraising page, and announced it on Facebook. I needed to have public accountability! But why did I sign up in the first place if I’m kind of turned off by running?
When I go on my training runs several times per week, I turn my mind to thoughts of our nation’s heroes, and in particular, our wounded warriors. Here I am, running on my own two legs, not injured, perfectly healthy…what is there to not love about that? Some of our soldiers we send overseas come back without their legs. Some of them come back without arms, never to touch their loved ones or lift weights with their own hands again. And still others – many others, more than we realize – come back with unseen wounds, those of PTSD and TBI.
If these guys and girls can volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way and come back with wounds that have forever changed their lives, I can do a measly little run. It’s for them, it’s in their honor, it’s so that they can get the help and support they need. This 10K will raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Fisher House. On the front page of the WWP’s website, it says, “It’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do.” The WWP is all about helping our veterans heal from the physical and mental wounds of war. According to statistics on their website, over 50,000 have been wounded physically; 320,000 have suffered a TBI; and 400,000 suffer with PTSD. (The latter two are estimates.)
It’s easy to post our flag and slap a Support Our Troops magnet on our car and feel all fuzzy-patriotic inside. Even as military families we can be prone to this. When we have our soldiers safely home from war and things are going fine, it’s easy to forget of others who are suffering. But it’s important that we take time to consider the nitty-gritty details, to truly consider what others might be experiencing. We have to ask ourselves hard questions that are difficult to think about, and then determine what we are going to do to help.
For our troops!
A picture I took on one of my runs. There is so much beauty to see in this world!
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