Sunday, April 26, 2009

My letter to Oprah

Re: advise to military familys. My letter was to long to send in, so I am posting it here. I worked hard on it! :)

I am an army wife, our family has been in the army for almost 10 years now. We have lived in Germany for 8 years now, and enjoy it very much. Although we love it now, we had a very hard time adjusting.

We first moved to Germany in 2002, my husband was deployed in 2003. I was left alone in a foreign country to fend for myself and our two very infant daughters. This was the hardest time I have ever endured in my short life.

Many people move overseas not knowing what to expect. Hearing stories other people tell them, or misconceptions they hear through internet, friends, tv, ect. I know when I moved to Germany I thought about bratwurst, beer and horrible Nazi storys. I can tell people from experience its nothing like that...well maybe the beer part!

The best advise I could give to someone is that the army is one very large family. There are some family members you don't get along with, some you like more than others. We all share on common goal, protecting Americas freedom and standing behind our soldiers. I remember when I first came here and had to go to the hospital for an emergency and had no one that I really trusted, I had only been here for 3 months. My neighbors stepped up and took our two small children in and watched them like their own. Family is not just blood, its what you make it.

My other best advise is taking advantage of the places you will be stationed. I know people that have been in Germany for 6 years and never been to any other countries, barely stepping foot off the base. I drag my family out every chance I get to explore new things, how often will we have this chance again? My oldest child was two years old when we got here, she will be 10 years old this year. She has been to 10 countries! We scrimp and save to go on road trips, but we are making memories that will last forever.

Some of the best people Ive ever met where in my army family. Now they come and go all the time, sometimes you meet a few that you don't agree with, that's what makes us all different I guess.

Keeping in contact with family is important also. I try to call my family once a week. I have not seen my mother in three years. She is unemployed and cannot afford to come here, so we take pictures of our house and give her a virtual tour of things. We don't celebrate birthdays together with aunts and uncles. We see family and feel so sad that the time goes by and we don't see the little ones grow. We feel strange around family when we come home because we cannot afford to come home more than every two to three years. We try to stay close. We miss grandma babysitting, or grandmas cookies. They miss important events like the first day of kindergaden. We sacrifice these things and a lot of American don't realize.

We make home wherever we are. We make family wherever we are. Home is where the Army takes us. We also get culture shock when we go home :)

Thanks for recognizing the military and the family's who keep them going.

Sarah Richardson
Proud US Army wife to SGT. John M Richardson
Go Army HOOAH!!!