Squaddie Wags Announcement 2012

“In January, we were approached by the Royal British Legion Women’s Section. After a lot of emails flying back and forth, and a meeting (with two young children running around!), we came up with some very exciting plans for the future.

From now on, Squaddie Wags will be collaborating with the Royal British Legion Women’s Section (http://www.womensbritishlegion.org.uk/) in order to ensure that all female dependants have easy access to an unwavering support system. The Royal British Legion Women’s Section is 90 years old and they provide care and support through various welfare schemes, and their members are a fantastic community in their own right.

Due to the generosity and kindness of the Royal British Legion Women’s Section, we have been able to carry out a much needed upgrade of our forum software. At Squaddie Wags, we have always been extremely certain that one thing remain the same – we will never charge our members for use of the forums. Thanks to the fabulous Royal British Legion Women’s Section, this can continue. Our members can now use an upgraded website, and as always, at no cost to themselves. Previously, the website has been paid for solely by the owner, and so we are extremely grateful for the generosity and kindness of the outstandingly supportive people at the Royal British Legion Women’s Section.

The Royal British Legion Women’s Section are a fantastic support service for all female dependants of those serving and ex serving. We will, over the coming months, be setting up our very own Squaddie Wags Association branch of the RBLWS. This will be a fantastic step forward for our website in achieving what we have always set out to achieve – to ensure that all female dependants have easy access to support (in whatever form that may be), whenever they need it.

We shall release more details on our RBLWS branch once it is fully functioning and we hope that you will all become members so that you can benefit from their fabulous services, and join a friendly, sociable community who carry out activities and events throughout the year and really are there to support each other and all female dependants (past or present) of HM Forces.

We hope soon, to publish a piece by the RBLWS with ‘their side of the story’ so to speak!

In the mean time, we wish to say again, a very big thank you to the RBLWS. What was once the dream of an 18 year old girl, has now become reality, and we look forward to what the future holds.

But the focus in all of this, is all of you – the female dependents of HM Forces personnel, past or present. This life can be tough, really tough, but there are 2,245 members of SquaddieWags.co.uk who know exactly how you feel, and 43,000 members of the RBLWS, most of whom have ‘been there, done that’. There is no need to struggle on your own.”

The long road to Civvy street…

I think our daughter must’ve been 4 months when my husband gave me my first glimpse of Civvy Street. Like so many others, he went on tour when she was a baby and it broke his heart to leave her at such a young age. She came at the right time, born just before leave, so he was able to spend a long while with her, noticing the wee changes that can go un noticed if you’re out working all the time. He found it really hard to leave her at 3 months to go on tour. One month into the tour, he phoned me to tell me he was signing off and that I should look into getting on the Council list sooner rather than later so that we don’t end up homeless.

I don’t know what happened on the tour but by the end of it, he’d changed his mind and decided to stay in for a wee bit longer, just till his 12 year point – “It would be silly to leave before” I was gutted! I knew it wouldn’t be easy in Civvy Street, we wouldn’t have the security of the regular income, and I would likely have to go out to work instead of staying at home with our baby, but I knew we could make it work and money wasn’t everything.
Well, his 12 year point came and went I was none the wiser, at 15 years, I asked him when his 12 year point was. Not too bright am I, but when you think of time as in postings and not as years, it’s easy to overlook. I can tell you the year of our first posting because that was the year we were married, and the second posting our daughter was born, the third was another birth and so on, but I couldn’t give you a year and say where we were posted.
I really was going to have to wait quite some time for Civvy Street. The glimpse I had was fading fast but seeing as time was going by so quickly, surely we’d be in Civvy Street soon, living a life where we knew for definite that we could go to a family wedding as a couple and not just me on my own.

As the 22 year mark approached and I began to think about wallpaper, curtains, lighting etc Civvy Street once again was taken from me by my husband being given VEng. We do now have our own house that we bought just last year. I have the wallpaper and the lighting, the curtains and the kitchen. I should really be pleased to have all this but it’s not how I imagined it. I imagined us both to be living in our house together. It was something we were meant to share.
We’ve gone the married unaccompanied route. Would be fab to have him posted near so that he could come home at nights but that’s not going to happen and now, to top it all off, he’s come off the Board and if he takes the promotion, then that means another year or so on top of VEng before he’s out. I may have misheard the numbers but when you keep getting glimpses of a life you could have, only to have it stay like that, a glimpse, you try not to focus on the numbers as it could, if you let it, really upset you.

So now I have Civvy Street, just 3ish years away, my thoughts aren’t filled with excitement about what we’re going to do to the house and how we’re going to spend our time together, it’s how will my husband manage being in Civvy Street after such a long time in the Army.

My Lovely Mum

1st March 2005 – the day that we were told that there was no more they could do for my lovely Mum. Ironically, it was the first day of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, Ovarian Cancer would eventually take her away and leave a gigantic Mum sized hole in my life.

My Mum had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer in the summer of 1999. I was 15. I’ve done a bit of googling, and according to the Cancer Research website, only 6 out of every 100 women diagnosed with stage 4 cancer will live for 5 years. I am so very lucky that my Mum was one of those lucky 6.

Of course at 15 years old, it didn’t even enter my head that she wouldn’t survive. Of course she would, she was my Mum and she told me that everything would be ok and so I believed her, I had no reason not to. She had a hysterectomy, which of course (in my mind) got rid of a lot of the cancer (it had spread). Then she had chemo, which would kill everything else off (so I thought).

It didn’t quite work out like that. The next 5 and a half years were full of chemo, lots of different types. She told me she was on drugs trials, I thought that was good, I didn’t realise it was because they weren’t sure what else to do with her. She had many operations, removing lymph nodes and putting stents in her kidneys when it spread to those.

I never, ever thought, for the first 5 years, that anything bad would happen. It sort of became quite normal to have a bald Mum who spent most of the time at hospital. She still worked though, she only stopped working a couple of months before she died. Then, in November 2004, she went into hospital for another operation (can’t remember what for). And I remember it suddenly hitting me that she wasn’t going to get better. She was still having chemo, but I knew really that it was to extend her life, rather than save it.

That Christmas me and my sister went all out and bought my Mum and Dad some great presents, we really made a lot of effort – without either of us saying to the other that we knew it would be her last Christmas. We had a fabulous day, it was one of the best Christmases. My Mum wore a Santa hat all day, to cover her bald head.

Unfortunately, my Aunt was terminally ill with a different kind of cancer, so on Boxing Day we had to go and say goodbye to her – without actually saying goodbye, and all the while acting as if she was going to be fine, even though we all knew she wouldn’t be.

My Aunt died in January 2005. My Mum rang me and told me and said “I expect everyone thought it would be my turn first”. My Mum by that point had been fighting cancer for 5 and a half years. My aunt for only a year.

On 1st March 2005 I got THE phone call. Nothing else they could do. I’d like to say I had all these emotions, and describe to you what they were. But I didn’t. I was totally numb. I remember asking my Mum “So, what happens now?” and she said “Well….nothing really.”

We thought my Mum would have ages left, she had fought it for so long now that I thought she’d have at least 6 months, probably even a year.

The last time I saw my Mum, she stood on the steps of the hospice and waved me off as I left the car park. She had a big smile on her face and had been telling me how the hospice was quite like a hotel really. It was a lovely place – seems weird to say that about a hospice!

She died a couple of days later on 17th March 2005, 3 days before my 21st birthday. I wasn’t there, I didn’t make it to the hospice in time. I’m glad I wasn’t there, I don’t think she wanted us there. My Dad was with her and that is what she would have wanted.

This all seems very depressing doesn’t it? It is I suppose. She never met my husband, or my children, she didn’t see any of her daughters get married. She didn’t get a chance to write in my 21st birthday card (which we still celebrated 3 days after she died – that was weird!)

I do miss her. I miss her a lot. I would give anything to be able to see her and tell her all about my kids, my husband. I’d like to be able to ring her and ask her how on earth to get this wood stain from the bottom of my sofa, out of the carpet in my married quarter. I think she’d know the answer, she seemed to know lots of stuff like that.

My Mum had some of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. But none of us knew they were the symptoms of cancer. She was getting older, and she put it down to that.

So here are the symptoms (taken from www.ovarian.org.uk):

Persistent pelvic and stomach pain
Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
Occasionally other symptoms such as urinary symptoms, changes in bowel habit, extreme fatigue or back pain may also be experienced on their own or at the same time as those listed above.”

You can see how they could be overlooked, blamed on something else etc.

The point of this blog is to raise awareness, to let you all know the symptoms. Most of those symptoms, if you have them, are probably down to something else, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

And as for my Mum…she was a fabulous lady, a fantastic Mother, I truly had the best upbringing I could ever have wished for, and I hope that when my children are older, they will look back on their childhood with the same fondness as I do.

But we can’t dwell on the past, we can’t change what has happened, we can only use things that have gone wrong, to try and stop them from happening again. Most importantly, we can stick a smile on our faces and get on with things – a trait which us Army wives know all to well. I remember my Mum as a smiley, happy woman, despite fighting cancer for so long, she still laughed and enjoyed herself. She wasn’t ever miserable – or at least not in front of anyone.

So, I’m sure I have thoroughly depressed a lot of you now. Stick a smile on your face, think about what you want to do with your life that you are too worried about, worried you will fail, worried what people will think etc etc. Never mind what other people think, believe in yourself, do what you want (within reason!). Enjoy yourself. And smile! Be remembered as a happy, smiley woman, a positive person who looked on the bright side of things, saw the best in people, believed in themselves and had faith in those around them.

“A smile takes but a moment, but the memory of it lasts forever.”

Hong Kong Adventure…

I felt like I’d been slapped in the face with a wet fish when I first stepped off the plane. The smell was horrendous and the humidity was just unexplainable.

At the time I’m not sure I thought so, but I can now say that I was lucky that our first posting as a married couple was Hong Kong. I spent 2 years there and my husband a year or so longer.

It was such a shock to the system moving so far away from home. I went from working full time and having a busy social life to having no friends, no money and no job. Don’t get me wrong, my husband gave me his cashline card before we were even married, so he never considered his wages as ‘his’, always ‘ours’, but I wasn’t used to having no money coming in of my own.

I hated the first 3 months of living out there. If I’d been closer to home, I think I’d have left my husband. I only stuck it out because I knew I much preferred to be miserable with him than miserable without him. I don’t think it helped that he sodded off to New Zealand on a rugby tour and left me on my own for over 2 weeks. I soon got him back though, got a piercing or two and changed my hairstyle before he returned. He learnt his lesson and other than the Army sending him places at short notice, he hasn’t went on any jolly without speaking to me about it first 

I managed to find myself a job on Hong Kong Island, which was a bit of a trek as we lived in the New Territories, not too far from the Chinese Border, but it was fab to get out and meet people and make friends. I was the only non Chinese person in the office so it took a bit of getting used to and a bit of teasing. It was a long day though as I had to leave at 6.30am and never got home until 7.30pm.

Food was soo expensive. It was definitely cheaper to eat out but not always what you wanted. Sometimes you just wanted homemade chips, steak and vegetables – comfort food from home. I don’t think it matters where you’re posted too, food is often one of the things you miss most about home.

Our quarter was fantastic, and none has surpassed it. We lived in a 3 bedroom flat which had quarters for ‘the maid’ and the main bedroom was en-suite. We really were spoilt. Our block was Army and the surrounding blocks were RAF. Shame they felt they had to separate us eh, as if one would rub off on the other and be a bad influence.

How many people can say when they got the bus to work that they shared it with live chickens? That the men on the underground used to pick their noses blatantly but when I sneezed (covering my mouth whilst I did so), they looked at me in disgust? That they saw dead pigs explode because of the heat? Oh and in Hong Kong, pigs aren’t pink, they’re yellow.

I don’t think I fully appreciated living out there. I’m not sure if it’s because I was working such long hours or if it was partly my age but if I were to do it again I’d experience a whole lot more. It has made me appreciate following postings and try to make the most of them, even those I really didn’t enjoy. I gave myself a challenge, for every negative I found about a posting I had to find a positive.

I think it must be a bit like childbirth in that we may feel like it’s a nightmare at the time, but looking back we (hopefully, unless traumatised) forget the bad and remember the good. So, I challenge all of you to think about where you are just now and come up with at least 3 things you like about your current posting.

You don’t know me…

I am 26 and have 2 children a boy aged 7 and a girl aged 6 months, I worked full time for Home-Start until I went on maternity leave. My partner has been in the army for 9 years. This is my very honest personal opinion on what happens in our family unit…

When people ask me what my partner does I tell them he’s a soldier, the response I get is ‘Oh god’ ‘How do you do it? I couldn’t’ and everytime I think why do you all say that? It really annoys me?
When i think about it what I really want to say is I don’t know how I do it, I just do and we all know why that is, its because when you fall in love its with the person and not the profession so I’do it’ because I LOVE HIM TO THE END OF THE EARTH AND BACK!

The truth of the matter is yes my partner is serving in the Army, but myself and my family do too in a way. I sit at home and wait for decisions the Army makes, we have lots time spent apart and lots of uncertanty… We do all this together. The one thing we dont do is live together all the time…
We are unaccompanied! Yes, you heard right, unaccompanied! I dont like being away from him, I’d move around but he doesnt want us too… So every Friday we say hello and every Sunday we say goodbye… This is of course when he’s not on excercise, on tour or working.

The problem I have with this, on top of not seeing him as often as we could, is that our family is forgotton, we do not get to attend groups, meet with other wives, go to mess do’s or recieve information ect. Its very frustraiting at times but you learn to live with it.

I have had to pick up on the abreviations, squaddie talk and ways of life but without the support of the other wives and without having the welfare bloke answering my questions (not very well lol) if I hadn’t of listened if I hadn’t of payed attention I would still have no clue! When I have needed an ear, when I have wanted to rant and when i have needed advice on the matters of the Army I have always been able to turn to the Squaddie Wags main website and think THANK GOD for you ladies!

I have many many more years of being an Army wife and I’m sure I will have many many more questions that need answering but for now the only statement I have for you is this,

My name is Christine and I’m in love, you dont know me but I’m part of an Army family so take note, we count too and so do others in our situation so please don’t forget about us because we are serving in our own way too. xx

Mission Impossible

Making friends comes easy to some but for others it is a mission. Once you are over the packing & unpacking, the stress of moving, your hubby has started work and your just left. You have to ‘put yourself out there’ to meet new people but where do you put yourself?? If you don’t have toddlers or babies you are more limited to the activities you can join in with, so you have to go out and try and find what is going on, where everyone is going & meeting etc. The worse thing to happen though is you’re in the naafi, you look over & smile at some other wives and all you get back is a glare… That’s it, Now I want to run back to my new house (which still doesn’t feel like home) and hide there But I can’t do that for the next 2 years… Next option…. wait until my husband makes friends and just hope that they are married and have nice wives? If that’s still not the case, what is your next option??

For me I have been lucky, our first posting we had, I made friends from when my husband & I were dating, our 2nd posting I made friends with some of his wives and now here our 3rd posting I have finally put myself out there, gone to different groups, speak to different people all the time and smile to people that I’m not friends with because you just don’t know… that person may end up needing that one friendly smile to make things seem a bit better.

Then after all that effort and all that time, the next thing is keeping in contact. Do you keep in contact with the friends that you make at every posting? Are these friends just here for while you’re posted together and as soon as you move you forget about them? Do you look for great friends while you’re at a posting or just ones to keep you company while you’re there? Again I am very lucky to have made some great friends along the way that I ‘try’ to keep in contact with but it is very hard with you all moving onto different places, doing different things, blink and it’s been 6 months and it’s hard to get back to how you were…

So I go with the theory that you put yourself out there, have a great few years with new people you wouldn’t have met, build some fantastic memories and hopefully with each move it will all be that little bit easier and a bit more friendly

Our Virtual Valentines Day…

All those who will be spending Valentines Day alone, say aye!

Ok, so I can’t actually hear you lot through my computer, but I’m assuming there will be a lot of ‘aye’s. Spending time away from your partner is a given when it comes to the Military. Whether they are on tour, on course, on duty, or half way up a mountain (as mine will be).

Obviously Christmas is a rubbish time to be apart from each other, birthdays and anniversaries too. Valentine’s Day is often spoken about as being over commercialised rubbish. That’s a debate for another day! Whatever the opinion on it, it’s not a great day to have your other half miles away, especially when you log on to Facebook/Twitter etc and see every one declaring their love for each other and talking about what lovely restaurant they are going to, or what meal they are going to cook for their partner. And you just want to shout at your computer screen “I’M HAVING A MICROWAVE MEAL FOR ONE, MY KIDS HAVE BEEN LITTLE DEVILS ALL DAY, I HAVE RIBENA STAINS ON MY OAT MEAL COLOURED CARPET IN MY MARRIED QUARTER WHICH THEY WILL BILL ME FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS FOR AND I’VE GOT TO PUT THE BINS OUT MYSELF!!!!!!”

Yes, you’d think we’d be used to it by now wouldn’t you? We are really…we just like to get annoyed by it, it gives us something to moan about to each other on the main forums on our site.

So, on Valentine’s Night, we will have a lot of members logging on to compare their Valentine’s Day, and what exciting things they got up to on their own. We’ll moan about how it doesn’t really matter if we didn’t get sent cards because it’s all commercialised rubbish anyway…and at the same time we’ll be saying “Awww how lovely and sweet and thoughtful” to the girls who are lucky enough to be sent something, and we’ll mean it.

These are the sort of times that make it so lovely to be a member of our site. We’re all in the same boat – we’ve either got partners away so we can have a grumble together about that, or we’ll have our partners here and be well aware that they will probably be away for Valentine’s Day next year, so we’d better enjoy it while we can. We can have a good natter together on Tuesday night, a proper girly chat, and it will cheer us all up (or at least most of us!). Who knows what we will talk about – perhaps I will report back on that in another blog post. But for those of us spending the night on our own, we’ll log on with a glass of wine/pop/water, and natter the night away – virtually of course, it’s not good to be seen talking to yourself ;)

Of course you can’t beat actually being able to speak to people face to face, I’d love to get all these girls in a room together for a natter. But with 2224 members, I reckon it’d be a bit noisy. So, across the internet is the next best way. Plus, it’s nice to be able to have a girls night in, without having to do all the housework first, and risk one of the wives spilling red wine on your oat meal married quarter carpets ;)

The Beginning of Everything….

I met my boyfriend when we were young, we like most people weren’t sure what we wanted in life and when he said he wanted to join the Army honestly… I didn’t even think about the impact it could have on our lives forever. He had only been out of training for a few months before he was deployed on TELIC 1…. Talk about being thrown into it, weeks and weeks without any sort of contact and knowing he was a part of the first war the British Army had fought in for years as a scared 18 year old waiting at home for the love of my life with no support was awful…

So I sat down in front of the computer and googled ‘British Army wives and girlfriends’ and what happened? Nothing… Not one site appeared for me to join and I wondered how many other people were sat there in my position not knowing what to do with themselves, there was no support system in place for wives and girlfriends like me that were in effect alone with no support from civilian friends and family who knew very little about the army, had such a limited understanding and were no support as they just didn’t understand how I was feeling….

And so I started Army Angelz… (Bear with the name lol I was 18) And so we grew, we got bigger, we had more members, it wasn’t always easy, sometimes I wanted to give up but when it got tough a member always reminded me of why I was there and doing what I was doing.

We started off as a msn group and as we grew realised msn wasn’t enough for our members so my then husband and I purchased a forum and website and in May 2007 Squaddie Wives was born.

As well as daily online contact with other wives in the same position, there is the scope to exchange contact details and meet with others in the area, many of us have travelled hours just to meet people we have spent so long getting to know, with days out, parties, celebrations and even weddings!

It has given my husband peace of mind in knowing that I have a good support network around me in his absence, It is also of particular benefit to those of a shy disposition, who have young children or who do not drive as it enables regular social interaction when face to face meetings are not always possible. There is also almost always someone living or who has lived where you are posted to that are able to provide information/photographs before you get there that is invaluable.

Squaddie Wags is an entirely non-profit organisation, funded mainly by myself, but also by the occasional sale of fridge magnets and pens to its members!

We have members from all over the world and from every cap badge all of our members are treated as equals and it is an all female site including an AFF rep with their own board.

I am proud that Squaddie Wags has grown into a vibrant, friendly and popular online community, offering what we consider first class support and advice to military wives and girlfriends all over the world and from all walks of life.
We have had good times and bad times, and very sad times but all those times have been shared together. I have made friends I will treasure forever and have had times that I will never forget.

I was 18 when I started the site I am now 27, I started off with a boyfriend and I now have a husband of 8 years and two children, he was on his 1st tour when I opened it and he is now on his 7th operational tour. I have grown with the site as have a lot of our members, it is a big part of my life and the friends I have made on there are friends for life. It means more to me as a manager than people realise and the members make it all worthwhile. xx