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I’m Andrea — a former Navy brat, and now a proud Army wife.
My husband is a former Navy man, and now is in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort MacPherson in Atlanta, Ga. We have three kids — all boys — ages nine, seven and nine-months.
My children are military brats, just like their mom and seven aunts and uncles. Some of my siblings even followed in my dad or mom's footsteps: my brother Michael is now a Marine, and was at the Pentagon on 9/11; Ted, Michael’s twin, is a former Army Ranger; and my sister married a soldier.
The military has played a big role in our lives. I know first hand what it’s like to be a military brat, and now I see my kids going through it as well, with their daddy gone so much. I had it hard growing up — people should know that the military life is not only difficult for the enlisted, but also for the family of the one who's serving.
Growing up without my dad was very hard for me — I didn’t want my boys to feel the same way as I did growing up. But, I can say I knew what I was getting into when I met my husband in ’97. I was a young Navy wife right out of high school, and soon had a little boy, Brandon. Shortly after he was born, his daddy left for a six-month WES PAC tour on the USS Abraham Lincoln. My son was lucky to be young when his father left — but on the flip side, my husband missed out on a lot while he was deployed.
Soon after we had our second son Steven, my husband and I were having many struggles with the military life. When he was deployed, it nearly cost us our marriage; we were separated for a year and a half. As a result, my husband decided to leave the Navy. But then 9/11 happened.
I had just moved back to Washington and was starting my new job on that day that will live in infamy. I had not heard the news until I got into work; I thought it was a joke, until I heard Peter Jennings say on the radio that a plane had hit the Pentagon. I knew my brother was there, and was sick to my stomach. Right then, my husband called to tell me it was not a joke.
We tried civilian life for three years, and as a family, and because of 9/11, we all decided to "join" the army. It was a decision that we made together, and we knew it was going to be hard for the boys. They had gotten used to their daddy being home, and they where now older and knew more, then when he first was enlisted. My husband and I had to come up with a plan to get them through boot camp, and saying goodbye to their granny and their great grandparents in Washington. My oldest son Brandon understood; he was in kindergarten at the time. Steven, my baby, took it the hardest. He's a true Daddy’s boy.
Then Christmas came — we got lucky, and my husband was able to come home from boot camp to celebrate. This helped the boys carry on until he was done with boot camp. Finally, we got orders for Fort MacPherson in Atlanta, Ga. This added more stress for the boys, because not only did they have to get used to saying goodbye to their daddy, but now had to say goodbye to their whole family, including their granny and my grandparents, who they where very close to.
Now, after our seventh deployment in three years, my boys have adjusted well. We come up with creative things to do together, and opened our own military shop on cafe press, called "Camo Baby Gifts." We design T-shirts, mugs, and other gifts for military branches, and have agreements with the D'Andrea Brothers for the use of the word HOOAH. We find that our kids need to know that they're in a team, not just that their daddy is in the Army. We are our own army.
My boys are very proud of their dad and understand that he is in the Army so other kids will be safe; they know that he is in the Army so our family can have a better life. I believe the kids that are left behind in deployments are the real soldiers — they truly hold down the home front while their moms and dads are gone. They are the ones giving support to the ones left behind.
I think what FOX News is doing is great; our family are huge FOX News fans. You can always find a TV in our home tuned into it, about 17 hours a day! We start our morning in our house with "FOX and Friends," and end it with "On the Record with Greta."
My husband is deployed in Kuwait right now — the pictures in this blog are family photos of my kids and their dad before deployments, my brother getting his medal for his service on 9/11, and my dad and brother Ted. These photos show two generations of military brats — our military life.
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