I have a special treat for you today! I’m interviewing Tara Crooks, co-founder of Army Wife Network and co-author of the new book, 1001 Things To Love About Military Life. I’m so excited about this book and wanted to be sure to share it with all of you.
This is the season of giving, and you know we LOVE to give here at More Cowbell! Special thanks to Tara for hanging out with us today and answering all my questions (she even told me about COMBAT UNDIES!). We’re hoping to see her three co-authors – Starlett Henderson, Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer – stopping in as well.
These ladies know something very important, something I think so many people forget: Freedom is not free. Servicemembers and their families the world over dedicate their lives to protect the freedoms you and I enjoy every day.
The readers of this blog are from all over the world, but it’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States and this interview is one of the ways I am offering thanks. TWO lucky commenters on this blog will be receiving a copy of 1001 Things To Love About Military Life – one is from Tara and one is from me!
Is this book just for active and retired military?
Our hope is that those who are or were in the military as well as their families find themselves agreeing with many of the items. Our book gives insight into the military life and helps others see why we have such pride in our military. Our Servicemembers love their brothers-at-arms and they love their country – freely and selflessly. Our aim is to help the country love back the same way and give them a window into our military way of life. So, to answer your question – our book is for anyone who has ever been a part of or admired the military.
What is your “favorite” love about military life?
My husband, Kevin, is my #1 thing to love. Without him, there would be no military life.
[Jenny here: Are y’all joining me with a huge, “Awwwwwww!" right now?]
I love the adventure of moving and seeing so many new places. I love the pride of service you feel in the military, and being married to someone who is so selfless. The friends and family that we’ve made inside the military is another thing I love. So many of our friends here have become so close they feel like family.
Why have you grown so close to the people in the military?
People in the military are very diverse but they’re all connected by that feeling of service. The military doesn’t give you ample time to make friends. Plus, there’s a fire lit under your butt to go out and meet people because your spouse is gone. Even if you don’t live on a military installation, the fact that you live in close proximity, plus you’re military, is a tremendous bond.
What’s the hardest part of being a military spouse?
I am a control freak and there’s nothing about this life that you can control. For me, there’s a lot of anxiety because you never know what’s going to happen next. What the military decides to do today is not for you to decide. Many wives would say that it’s being separated from their spouse, or not having enough pay. Some would say the hardest thing is not having a spouse around to help parent.
When your daughters look back, what do you hope their “favorite thing” is?
What I want my girls to get out of this life is that daddy AND mommy served our country. I hope they can be empowering and empowered about their life in the military. I’m a mother who works at home and built a business that I love. I hope the girls learn that you can do things on your own, without having to work for someone.
Did you ever imagine yourself being a military spouse?
The military life is NOT what I planned. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and, before I became an Army wife, I worked for Nine West, then Old Navy. I always thought I’d be something like a corporate trainer and work in training and development with adults. With the work I do training army spouses and adults, I get to do what I always wanted.
What are your favorite things about your job?
I’m not a writer. I never claimed to be a writer. Everything I’ve done has been a happy accident. [Jenny Note: Writing pals o' mine, she worked her hiney off, I promise you…don’t be a hater over that ‘happy accident’ idea. This book ROCKS!]
I love to go out and see the military spouses and empower them. But you can’t travel all the time. We do Field Exercise™ and speaking engagements 4-6 times a year.
The other thing I LOVE is social media. All the military spouses interact on Facebook and it’s wonderful to see how fast a picture or a piece of information can travel. I love that these women can ask questions and I can give an answer right away and solve a problem, whether it’s on the Army Wife Network Facebook page or the 1001 Things To Love About Military Life Facebook page.
[Jenny: OMG! She’s a trainer and she loves social media…is anyone else seeing the parallels here??]
Do you feel that military spouses have a hard job?
The people who are left at home DO serve but being a spouse is not the toughest job in the military. The soldiers have the hardest job. They are away from home, worrying about getting shot or stepping on an IED. Whereas I get to sleep in my own house, in my own bed, and know I’m safe.
If we’re comparing a military spouse to civilians, then yes, they serve. The spouse who stays with the home, pets and children is supporting their soldier. They’re making sure that soldier knows they have a connection back at the homeland. 95% of being a successful Servicemember is mental.
My husband always says that when he knows everything is okay at home, he knows why he’s there (in Iraq or Afghanistan or Korea) – not here. Knowing everything is fine with me and the girls lets him serve with an easy, sane mind and a purpose.
What does your family think of your book? Are they proud of you?
My husband, Kevin, is proud of me, but he does keep me humble. When I told him I was sending our families the book, the conversation went something like this:
Him: “You’re sending these to my brother and sister?”
Me: “They’re my brother and sister too, we’ve been married for a long time now.”
Him: “It’s just gonna gather dust at their houses, don’t send them a book.”
Me: “I’m sending them a book!”
My mama’s first reaction: “It’s so much more than we thought it was going to be.”
I think people expect that they’re going to just get a list but there are many touching stories included.
We’ve got an ongoing fascination with Undies of all types here at More Cowbell. What do y’all favor?
UnderArmour, of course. It’s the performance clothing our soldiers love to wear. It’s #121, on page 39 in the book of the 1001 Things We Love.
[Jenny: UnderArmour is a brand of undies that wicks away the moisture and makes life cozier under your clothes (click here for more details).]
HUGE thanks to Tara for stopping by to hang out with us today! I’ll let y’all in on one MORE secret…Tara is married to my cousin Kevin, which makes her my cousin too. WOOT!
If you want to know more about some of the causes mentioned in this interview visit:
Do you come from a military family like I do? What is/was your favorite thing about military life? Do you have any shout-outs you’d like to give to the Servicemembers you love?
Tara Crooks is a thirteen-year military spouse known for her ability to inspire and empower. Tara holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management, though she will smirk at its applicability to what she feels she was “born to do.” Tara found her niche in starting Army Wife Talk Radio during her husband’s first deployment in 2005. What began as a fun “hobby” grew in popularity as Tara realized that her experiences and need for resources were shared by many other military spouses.
Called “Oprah of the Armed Forces” by Katie Couric, Tara has been a featured military family life expert in USAA Magazine, Military Times, Stars and Stripes, Lifetime.com, Army.com, and Military.com and is a contributor to the Household Baggage Handlers book of military spouse stories.
She was named the American Legion Auxiliary Woman of the Year 2008 for her service to military families, and to Who’s Who among Military Spouses 2009 by Military Spouse magazine. Tara has taken an active role in supporting her local military communities as an avid volunteer, Master Trainer, FRG leader, and Spouse Club board member.
She and her husband, Kevin, have two daughters, two dogs, and a cat.