Today I Am Thankful For…Our Military!

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?]

What else?

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: 

Army Wife Network: www.ArmyWifeNetwork.com
1001 Things To Love website: www.LoveMilitaryLife.com
Or these ladies’ blog:  www.LovingASoldier.com

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.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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41 Responses to Today I Am Thankful For…Our Military!

  1. Cyberhugs to you, Tara, your daughters and your husband. I don’t come from a military family, and likely have NO IDEA of the sacrifices you make each day. I do what I can, when I can to show my appreciation for the men and women and children who risk their lives (or, stay on the home front) to keep us safe.

    I’m proud to have my Christmas-turned-Patriotic Tree that stands in a corner of my home–decorated in red, white and blue with a sign beside it that says “Patriotic Tree–Proudly Standing to Honor the Troops in Harm’s Way.”

    Thank you.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I want to see a picture of that tree, Gloria! It sounds awesome.🙂

      Like

      • I’ll send it via email, Jenny! You may see it on my Thanksgiving/Gratitude blog on Friday, too. You’re welcome to use the picture on future blogs. Anything we can do to let our troops know we care!

        Like

        • Starlett says:

          Gloria– one of the things to love about military life is #437–the fun of hanging Christmas tree ornaments with memories of each place you have lived. So, we have a place in our hearts for themed trees too. We’d love to see a picture of your tree, so Jenny–maybe can forward it to Tara. Thanks for remembering the troops!
          Starlett Henderson–“one of the co-authors”

          Like

  2. K.B. Owen says:

    Tara, heartfelt thanks to you and your family for living your lives of service in such an open and giving way. Congrats on the book, and many prayers for keeping your husband safe. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Kathy

    Like

  3. Tara says:

    Kathy & Gloria,
    Thank you both so much.🙂 Everything you do – just saying thank you and remembering us speaks volumes!

    Jen,
    You rock, cuz!🙂 I appreciate all of your kind words. I do hope that readers pick up a copy of the book. I am very proud of our accomplishment. It is so much more than the title suggests – even if you aren’t connected to the military it will give you a glimpse into our world and offer an understanding of why we choose this lifestyle.

    Like

  4. Kudos to Tara for all she does to bring a focus on military life and to her co-authors for what sounds like an awesome book. Everyone involved in military service should be recognized and applauded and supported in whatever way we can. Every. Day.
    Happy Thanksgiving! Loved the jibjab, Jenny!

    Like

  5. timlobrien says:

    Jenny, thank you for such a timely blog. My daughter got married this past summer to a young man in the Marines. They live in Cali now, but are both home here in Oklahoma for the holidays. He is home on a two-week leave before he gets deployed the first of December. It will be his second deployment, but first while married to my daughter. I know she will struggle this Christmas without him home, and she is in for seven months of long and lonely nights. Thank you for bringing this book to our attention!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, Tim…that will be a hard first holiday season for her. I hope you win a book to give to her!

      Like

      • Starlett says:

        Tim- my brother serves as a Marine in California too. My sister-in-law and he just got done with a deployment. Last Christmas we bought him a CamoSock and stuffed it with many Christmasy care package items. If you check our blog the day after Thanksgiving at LoveMilitaryLife.com Tara will be posting many care package ideas.

        Before we even started writing this book, Tara and I started writing Field Problems Q&As about the military. Here’s one about being a parent of someone in the military: http://www.armywifenetwork.com/?p=3001.

        I hope these resources help, and thank yous all around for your military family’s service.

        Like

  6. Wonderful post Jenny and Tara.
    I love the look into the lives of military families and I do agree and believe that the families of our soldiers serve our country in a very important manner. I didn’t grow up in a military family but I have friends who serve (in Canada) and I can’t imagine the sacrifices that the families make…willingly and with love. It’s inspiring!
    Congrats to you Tara and your co-authors on the book – sounds amazing! I wish you all the best of success and here’s the safety of all our service people here and around the world.

    Like

  7. Thanks so much Jenny for interviewing Tara and giving us a glimpse of what it’s like to be a military family and for telling us about her book. Love knowing about the undies. Congrats Tara and co-writers! I wish you and yours all the best and please thank your husbands from the bottom of my heart. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Like

  8. Thank you and your husband both for your service and you for your book, Tara. When I was in the army during the Vietnam era, we weren’t particularly honored by our country. I’m glad that has turned around and the country in general does honor those in the military. Personally, when I see someone in a military uniform, I stop him or her to say thanks for the service.

    Like

    • Starlett says:

      Thank you for doing that David.
      As a veteran myself, I know how impactful a simple thank you can be.

      #884 of the 1001 Things….Benefiting from our Service members’ uncommon courage, will, and standard of excellence when providing our nation’s defense

      That goes for Veterans of today, yesterday and tomorrow.
      Thank you for your Service.

      Starlett- “one of the co-authors”

      Like

  9. What a wonderful interview Tara and Jenny. Tara, many thanks to you and your family for your service. Congrats on the book. Jenny, thanks for the JibJab card🙂

    Hope you both have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Like

  10. Tara, you are an amazing woman! What a fabulous book idea. People just don’t know everything that goes into being a military spouse, but I do and I commend you and every other spouse out there. You’re right ~ you do serve as well. Yes, you get to sleep in your own bed, but you pretty much have to be a single parent while not freaking out that your spouse will get injured. It isn’t easy to do that.

    Thank you to you and your husband! Have a great Thanksgiving!

    Like

  11. Piper Bayard says:

    I love this interview. I believe it takes a very strong woman to be a military wife. I am not that kind of strong, and I admire those who are. It’s so nice to meet you, Tara. Thank you for all you do.

    Like

  12. S Glover says:

    Wonderful interview. I am a military wife and some days I don’t feel very strong… LOL. 🙂 Thankful that this year hubby is home for Thanksgiving AND Christmas🙂

    Like

    • Starlett says:

      Sarah, you are strong.
      You will love the Sisterhood piece featured in the book.
      You are part of that “sisterhood of women who have the
      courage to watch their men march into battle and the strength to survive
      until their return.”

      We’re thankful your hubby is home for you too.

      Starlett – “one of the coauthors”

      Like

  13. Jenny and Tara, thank you for this wonderful post. I don’t come from a military family, although both, my grandfather and my dad have served in the Polish army but only for a few short years.

    We don’t express enough gratitude to the men and women of the armed forces AND their amazing families for all the sacrifices they endure to protect and serve our country and its citizens. I feel blessed to be able to life in the Unites States, where freedom is our daily bread. Unfortunately many take this for granted.

    Tara, congratulation on your book.

    Tara and Jenny, have a happy, filled with love and gratitude Thanksgiving.

    Like

  14. Lynn Kelley says:

    Wow, Tara is an amazing woman, a great role model for her girls and other military spouses.

    What a wonderful post, Jenny. I didn’t grow up in the military. My father was in the army and my brother in the navy, and brother-in-law in the Air Force. I think all those who serve our country are heroes, and I thank them, too, for all their sacrifices. So true that freedom is not free. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Like

  15. educlaytion says:

    Awesome stuff. Great to see such a positive book getting some love here.

    Like

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  17. I just ordered two copies, one for me and the other for my sister who served in the Air Force for 25 years. What a cool Christmas gift this will be! Thanks!!!!

    Like

  18. Amber says:

    What a great interview! Thanks for bringing attention to the spouses role in the military. I have been married 10 years and my husband is a LCDR in the Navy. We love military life and all the challenges it brings!

    Like

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  22. Rebecca says:

    Here is a nice way to say Thanks to the Troops. The Grateful Chics will donate a Patriotic Grateful Bead Strand to a soldier every time one is purchased. This charitable partnership is through Operation Gratitude, a non-profit that send care packages to our Troops. The soldiers will know someone cares, remembers and is grateful for their service with these tokens of Gratitude. Check them out here: http://shop.gratefulchics.com/Patriotic-Star-6-length-STAR09P.htm

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