The Cycle   |  May 24, 2013

A Navy wife’s reality of a life ‘standing by’

Before Memorial Day, The Cycle hosts talk to a woman who knows all too well what military families go through. Alison Buckholtz, the wife of an active duty Navy pilot, talks with The Cycle hosts about what it’s like for families when loved ones leave for battle.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we all finalize our plans for a long weekend of beaches and barbecues, let's not forget why we have a day off. it is a day to remember all the men and women who have died serving in our military. and also a time to honor those around the globe defending our country right now. this morning the president highlighted those sacrifices while addressing the graduating class of 2013 at the u.s. naval academy .

>> today we salute all the americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in these wars including 18 graduates of this academy. we honor them all. now and forever. so class of 2013 , i cannot promise you a life of comfort and ease for you have chosen an ancient path. the profession of arms which carries all the perils of our modern world . just as classes before you could not know they would find themselves at coral sea or midway or fallujah or helmond, we cannot know where your service will carry you.

>> while troops face danger on the front lines , their families face their own quiet battles at hole. from children acting out to trying to find a job and the complex benefits process. joining us to talk about the all too common problems they go through, the mother of two young children and the author of standing by. the making of an american military family in a time of war. a story about what it is like for the families when loved ones leave for battle. thank you for being with us.

>> thank you for your attention to military families.

>> absolutely. i've gotten through part of the book. it is incredibly moving. you have great very personal stories. the one that grabbed me right out of the gates is flat daddy. tell me about flat daddy.

>> as background, i didn't have any military family upbringing. some of my first memories of being pushtd in the stroller in the anti-war rallies in the early '70s where my parents were students. i didn't know anyone in the military. i didn't have any sense of how to live this life so other military spouses really help me and drew me into the community. so when my husband was deployed and the kids were having a hard time , i heard about flat daddy which was a life size cardboard cutout of the service member who is deployed. you send them a picture and they send it back to you. you help the kids pretend that daddy never left. you take it with you to the library or restaurants or in their bedroom at night. and it was a pretty spectacular failure. it didn't work out. no. but we tried a lot of different things. other military spouses had great ideas for me that did work. this was just one that it it failed because my kids didn't fall for the fact that a cardboard cutout could stand in for the father that they loved of that's fair enough.

>> absolutely.

>> when people think of military spouses left behind , they think of women. but there are women out there on the front lines in battlefields in the military, leaving families behind. i'm wondering, what has been the reaction from men to what you're doing and to your book?

>> it is funny that you mention male spouses. they play a really big low in mill spouse advocacy. the outgoing military spouse of the year that was named by military spouse magazine is a man, jeremy hilton whose wife is an air force officer and he is a former naval officer also. he has chiled the cause of special needs children. what insurance should be doing for special needs children. so they're out. there they're on front lines and i'm really honored to know them. i think they have a much harder pat than us. they don't have the same opportunities that we do as military spouses.

>> you talked about growing up in madison, wisconsin and not really knowing anyone in the mit. and folks in my generation, because of the past two wars, we almost all know someone who is currently serving or has served. what is something that we might not know about life in a military family that you really think we should?

>> well, one thing i did not know growing up as i said, really ignorant of military families. i had a lot of stereo types. i figured military member were robots who followed orders and their spouses were stepford wives buff military families are as diverse as the rest of the country. they're republicans, democrats, all religions, i mentioned the military spouse of the year award. one of the installation awards went to two female spouses. the female spouse of a female officer at ft. bragg. so military spouses are incredibly unique. you can't make any generalizations about them. and that was the biggest lesson for me since i married into the military.

>> in addition to your book you've been writing about the impact of the sequester on military families for a time of tell us about what we need to know there.

>> i call military families the canaries in the coal mine of the sequester. because military families are really feeling the brunt of these cuts first. i think people thought it wouldn't be that big of a deal, especially after the fax cuts were brushed to the side because the right people spoke up. everyone was inconvenienced by airline delays. and they don't exist anymore. but it is not like that for military families. we cannot speak up in the same kinds of numbers so for example, their offices, personal property offices, when you have to move, that's where you go. and the offices are based on very big bases like ft. belvoir in the d.c. area. you don't have guidance or the support you need. the other big problem is that military schools around the world, the teachers are being furloughed there. and that affects the accreditation of these military schools which hurts the kids trying to get into college. thank you for writing the book. we appreciate you coming on.

>> thank you so much.

>>> all right. and i want to send out a quick congratulations to my friend lorenzo santos who is among those graduating today from the naval academy class of 2013 . up next, a look back at