Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Intro to Army Life: A Book Review
Unfortunately, I got it the same day as Outlaw Platoon. And I say "unfortunately" because I decided I would read them simultaneously and it messed up my thought process and I found myself being unfair to Allison Mewes, the author of Intro to Army Life, for whom I have the utmost respect.
I was lost in the world of Outlaw Platoon, and then I turned to Intro to Army Life only to read about stuff that seemed so trivial after mentally going into battle with the men in Afghanistan. And it didn't help that nearly her first line reads: "Most people don't choose to be a military wife or husband, and I am one of those people." When people say they have no choice in certain things, I get put off instantly. I am a firm believer in making choices and forging our own destinies. No one forces anyone to marry anyone (unless you are part of some crazy religion where arranged marriages are still practiced). We may not know what we are getting into by marrying a soldier, but we always have a choice.
It took me a whole of a few minutes to realize how unfair and unprofessional I was being by not clearing my mind and giving this book all of my attention and thoughts. So I waited until Outlaw Platoon wasn't so strong in my thoughts, to pick up Mrs. Mewes book and give it my undivided attention.
And I really enjoyed it.
When Ben joined the Army, I got all his books and studied them. I looked up things I didn't know on the internet and started reading other military wife blogs and support sites to learn as much as I could. I wish this book, Intro to Army Life, was out then because it covers all the basics of what every spouse needs to learn and learn it quick... and it's all tucked nicely in one little book.
I really liked it how the author keeps things basic and simple. She leaves out a lot of the complicated stuff that just isn't important your first couple years in the military. Not living on base and meeting a lot of military wives in person, I guess I take it for granted that not all spouses are as into it as I am. While I was thinking of this post, I attended an ROTC event. Some of the cadets where talking about their enlisted lives before joining the ROTC. One of the cadets said, "I used to be an E-5" (which is a Sergeant). I didn't notice who it was, but one of the wives said, "What's an E-5?" After I got done chuckling to myself, I thought of Allison Mewes' book and thought maybe I should get a bunch and pass them out!
Intro to Army Life: A handbook for spouses and significant others entering the Army lifestyle, covers everything from ranks, TRICARE, military ID cards, deployment blues, PTSD, uniforms, LES (pay-stub) format, to USO services and the pros and cons of living on and off base. Plus MUCH, MUCH more!
I especially loved the LES section, those blasted pay-stubs are like trying to decode a foreign language with no key. This book includes a little easy to read diagram to help those of us with no clue how to decipher the code!
Ben even picked up the book and read a few chapters here and there and commented how she really hit the nail on the head with a lot of her tips and advice. When she started talking about ranks and some of the attitudes that existed between enlisted wives vs. officer's wives I started to get a little worried because most stuff I read online is about how snotty officer's wives are and I was afraid she was going to go there (I have a sensitive spot since I will be one in another year, I try really hard not to be snotty!). But she didn't. In fact, she explained a few things, used some examples and pulled off a completely unbiased point of view, and if anything said some nice things about officer wives.
I highly recommend this book for all spouses and significant others that need and intro into the Army lifestyle. It is different world than the civilian one we are living in, and it is best to be prepared for anything and everything. Our soldiers NEED us to be educated in the lifestyle, so they not only don't have to worry about us when they are gone, but that they feel we can in some small way understand them. I am not a soldier, I never pretend that I am, but I am an Army wife and I will do everything I can to be a part of that life that my husband and I chose together. I crave to understand him and be there for him. As Allison Mewes so eloquently puts it, we military wives need to "stay strong, be positive, keep the faith, ask for help, support your soldier and support one another. We're all in this together. Never give up! HOOAH!"
PS: I think Allison Mewes next book should be a compilation of short stories and experiences of Army wives adjusting to the lifestyle... there are SO MANY out there and I think it would be great fun knowing we aren't alone in trying to figure all this stuff out. Just a thought.
You can find Allison Mewes on Facebook or on her website. She'll also be doing a book signing at Ft Bragg (North Mall) this Saturday Feb 25th and at the Ft Knox PX on Monday, Feb 27th -- if you are in that area!