Advantages of being the Parent of a Citadel Cadet

It is high school graduation time. Parents of graduates who will be attending The Citadel in the fall are turning their attention to the various lists of items their son  or daughter will need when they report to the school on Matriculation Day.

Citadel Ya Ya's and one friend 2010

A group of Citadel Moms. We call ourselves The Citadel Ya Ya’s. We met through The Citadel Family Association.

There are now close to 200 Class of 2020 parents in the Facebook group The Citadel Parents of the Class of 2020 right now and more requesting to join each day. (If you want to join please go to the page request to join then send me an email, dorie@dorielgriggs.com, letting me know you are the parent of an incoming knob. The group is only for new parents, not extended family.) The questions asked in the group at this time of year revolve around shoes, boots, socks, and other required items.

That will sound odd to parents and others who have no experience with a military school.

When a student attends a military school they are given a list of items to bring with them. Most of their clothes will be provided to them by the school since they wear uniforms every day, including the weekends. The cadets also have very strict rules about what they can and cannot have in their rooms.

This is a stressful time for many families. The process of sending a child to a military school can bring on a mixture of feelings. Some of these feelings are shared by all parents of college bound freshman. Some are unique to the parents of military college students.

I thought it would be helpful to the parents of The Citadel, Class of 2020 to include a list of advantages of being the parent of a cadet at The Citadel.

  • When retail stores begin their sales pitch to college students in the summer, touting their dorm room decorations and bedding, families of cadets at The Citadel can ignore the ads.
  • When other families have to caravan to get their student to college in order to bring all the things for their dorm, Citadel families can fit everyone, and the incoming knob’s required items, in the family car.
  • Unlike parents of other college students on move in day, you won’t have to decorate and unpack your cadet recruit’s things. On Matriculation Day, the day first year cadets report, families carry the things in, with the help of the Citadel Family Association volunteers, and your son or daughter will unpack after you leave. Parents do not stay and unpack and decorate the room. You can go into town and enjoy the many wonderful restaurants and toast your success as parents.
  • When other parents are worried about the decisions their college student is making with all their new found freedom, Citadel parents know exactly where their knob is by midnight each night of first semester, right in their barracks room.
  • The “freshman 15” usually refers to the weight college students gain when they are away at college. Thanks to the physical training Citadel knobs go through, they usually lose weight and gain muscle. Your knob will end the year in the best physical shape of their lives.
  • First year cadets really appreciate visits from family and friends. They love to get off campus to sleep, eat what they’d like, and take long hot showers. When your friends with college students complain that their student doesn’t want them around, you can brag about how happy your knob is to see you.
  • The first year knobs are not in control of their time. This means when families visit they end up waiting outside the barracks for their cadets. Life long friendships are made among families as they wait for their knob to exit the barracks.

Parents of the Class of 2020, there are plenty of other reasons to be proud and happy your child has chosen “the road less traveled,” for their college experience. Try to focus on the positives right now.

You’ve given them a firm foundation. Now sit back and watch them soar!

Photos clockwise from top left: Dorie with her son, daughter and a high school friend and fellow knob enjoying dinner out in Charleston in September knob year. Parents Weekend promotion ceremony. Cadet Lalli and his senior mentor, Carrying the guidon on Recognition Day, Graduation Day, Ring Ceremony, He wears the Ring.

Advertisements

SkinnyScoop Nomination for Top 25 Military Mom Blogs!

I don’t find myself speechless very often, but an email I received today left me with no words.

The email follows.

Please take a minute to vote.

Thank you.

Hi,

I’m Joanne, and I handle community outreach at SkinnyScoop.com in San Francisco.  I’m writing to let you know that your blog has been nominated to our ‘Top 25 Military Mom Blogs’ contest!  It’s been great learning more about your blog and I wanted to be sure that you knew you were in the running.
If you’d like to share your nomination with your readers, you can find the contest here –http://www.skinnyscoop.com/list/SkinnyScoop_Staff/top-25-military-mom-blogs-of-2013.  There are more than 40 blogs nominated so you may need to scroll down to find your nomination(s).

To vote, your readers just have to go to the contest page, find your nomination, and click “Like”.  The Top 25 blogs will be decided by the highest number of votes (“likes”), and announced during the last week of September.

You can also post the attached badge on your sidebar or in a blog post and link to http://www.skinnyscoop.com/list/SkinnyScoop_Staff/top-25-military-mom-blogs-of-2013.  Alternatively you can use our sharing functionality to post the contest to Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

 

You can see the joy and relief on all our faces. Photo by Sarah Kohut Harrell

You can see the joy and relief on all our faces.
Photo by Sarah Kohut Harrell

The Yellow Ribbon Comes Down

The fluffy new ribbon was posted in November of 2012

The fluffy new ribbon was posted in November of 2012

Monday night we hosted a Welcome Home party for Nelson. He arrived to the States from Afghanistan July 17, but he just arrived to our hometown this past Friday. Monday night is an odd day to host a gathering, but it was the only day he had free.

It was a fun evening. We picked up barbecue from our favorite restaurant, and had an assortment of other goodies out.

The guests came from all different parts of our life. Former and current neighbors, a favorite elementary school teacher of our son’s, church friends, family friends, work friends, most of whom had never even met Nelson. All came to welcome him home. We were happy to thank them for their support over the past nine months.

Nelson cut down the ribbon Monday night. Photo by Stanley Leary

Nelson cut down the tired ribbon Monday night.
Photo by Stanley Leary

The highlight of the evening for me came when we went out side so my son could cut the yellow ribbon down from the oak tree out front. When I first put the ribbon up the bow was big fluffy and cheerful. By last night it was dirty, droopy, and sad-looking. I wrote about the ribbon while he was still deployed. The ribbon became a symbol for how I felt inside after 9 months of worry and concern.

Nelson took out a pocket knife and cut the ribbon down at the end of the party Monday night. You can see the relief on my face in the photo my husband took once it was down.

A simple act that took seconds, but reminded us how fortunate we are to have him home.

The ribbon is down. He is home safe. photo by Stanley Leary

The ribbon is down. He is home safe.
photo by Stanley Leary

Celebrating His Birthday During Deployment

24 years ago this evening I went into labor with my first-born son. I was already 10 days past my due date and was ready to go. He was breach, but my doctor was going to allow me to deliver naturally, until he went into distress. With in minutes I was prepped and off to the delivery room for an emergency c-section.

Nelson spent a few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after he was born.

Nelson spent a few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after he was born.

Nelson came into the world in a dramatic fashion. He was tough though. At over 8 pounds he looked like a monster baby next to the others in the NICU. He had to be hooked up to monitors and receive oxygen for a few days. He recovered nicely from his exciting entry into the world and has sought adventure ever since.

He is celebrating his birthday this year far from home. I am writing this entry the evening of March 24 here at home, but it is well into March 25 where he is now. We all miss him.

This afternoon our daughter expressed her love for her brother in a birthday video for him. They are ten years apart. When she was a toddler she called him NaNa. The name has stuck, at least at our home. Her video made me tear up.

We look forward to the day we can celebrate his birthday at home.

Dorie and Nelson his first day at home.

Dorie and Nelson his first day at home.

 

An Army Mom’s Field Trip to Fort Stewart

I visited another culture yesterday, Fort Stewart. Since I did not grow up around the military that is how I felt when I entered the base. It wasn’t that the language or  people were different, but how to navigate the different rules and culture came crashing together for me while shopping in the Exchange.

The Exchange

I met the Family Readiness Group leader at the Exchange. The first sign that I was out of my element happened pretty quickly. I was sitting outside the Exchange in what I thought was the front entrance. A few minutes later my contact walked up and said, “I thought I should check over here. I was waiting on the other side, the front of the building.” Oops.

This was my first visit to an Exchange on a military base. It was like a mini mall. My shopping companion knew exactly where to go once we were inside. We passed kiosk shops with framed sports photos, ladies wigs and other items. We arrived at our destination, a store filled with uniforms and supplies for soldiers.

Before my trip to Fort Stewart scores of friends and people I have never met sent me checks to go toward supplies for the soldiers of the 3-69 AR. Many of the soldiers are in remote areas without access to the internet or a PX. Getting needed supplies is difficult, so are showers. We were told before they left that our soldiers will need us to send items like soap, deodorant, etc. more than snacks and goodies. When I heard there were some soldiers who needed socks and underwear, etc. I put the word out and people responded. To date I have received $1,310 for this project.

Once inside the Exchange I handed over the cash, holding some back to go toward shipping. Since I do not have a military ID all the goods needed to be purchased by my contact. We decided shopping at the Exchange was better than ordering online with free shipping. The prices are so much better on base we could send more to the soldiers this way. We are buying for two platoons, about thirty men.

socks in the cart

We started in the underwear and sock section. Standing in front of a wall of socks we began to read labels. We settled on one style labeled “Military Fatigue Fighter” and features “Graduated Compression” and is made with “Wick  Dry & Scentry Technologies.” While neither of us really knew what “Scentry Technologies” actually means after reading the description of the sock we decided on this style. We opted for a mix of large and extra-large socks. It was on to t-shirts and underwear.

Standing in front of the t-shirts we had fewer decisions to make. There was only one choice in the type of shirt to make, cotton or polyester. Then it was a decision about the size mix. After getting enough for two per men, it was on to the underwear.

The standard issue briefs were only $2.05 a piece. While most of the guys we knew prefer boxer briefs we opted to go with the standard issue because the boxer briefs were over four times the price.

By this time our two shopping carts were pretty full. My shopping partner was keeping a running total on her smart phone.

We turned to the cold weather gear. Because the soldiers are in an area that is very cold now we opted for the “ThermaForm Neck Gator.” The label touts, ” A unique construction of layered fibers that create a body-conforming climate capsule to keep your neck and face warm and protected from winter weather,” Plus it had moisture control. I am learning that wicking and moisture control are important features for soldiers.

After a quick check of our running total we had enough money to buy something in the three dollar range. We opted for foot powder and were on our way to check out.

I made a slight detour to look at the Teddy Bears dressed in uniform. Our 14-year-old daughter came to mind. She misses her oldest brother and would love one of these bears. I settled on one with its cover pulled down to cover its eyes, the same way our soldier wore his cover at The Citadel, plus it had a distinctive nose like our guy.

On to the register. The ladies were very nice. One rang us up while the other bagged the items. To our surprise we came in at $995, not the $1,100 we thought we had. It was on to the PX to buy breakfast bars and oatmeal. The MRE’s provided the needed calories, but we thought the soldiers would appreciate something that doesn’t come from a standard issue box.

loaded carts

The PX was a big grocery store with great prices. We made quick work of the breakfast aisle loading up our large cart with boxes of nutritious bars and oatmeal. A little girl about 4 years old just stared at our cart as we walked down the aisle.

The check out line was like any other store. The lady working check out reminded me I was not at home in an off base grocery store. As she was ringing us up she asked if we needed custom forms for the USPS. We didn’t tell her why we were buying such a huge amount of bars and oatmeal, she just knew. It turns put she receive the stop mail notice for her son and had a stack of forms in her car. She gave the young guy bagging our groceries her car keys to retrieve the forms she no longer needed. One Army mom helping another.

With my little Toyota Corolla now filled up with items to ship to Afghanistan, we drove to the battalion headquarters office to see the Family Readiness Group Support office. I wanted to stop in to say hello and to express my condolences to the rear detachment staff after the death of Sgt. Wittman of the 3-69 just a week before.

After a quick visit and a few photos, I was on my way off base. I took a little time before I pulled out to reflect on the day. I only spent a few hours on base, but I had learned so much. I had to let it sink in a bit.

As I approached the Main Gate, I saw the “Warriors Walk” a tribute to Fort Stewart soldiers who lost their life in during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. I had to pull over to pay my respects. I’ll write about that experience in my next entry.

Dorie visits with the Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader and the FRSA.

Dorie visits with the Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader and the FRSA.

 

The Citadel: A note to Parents of the Class of 2013

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Grey Line.

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Grey Line.

Sunday, January 6, 2013, cadets from The Citadel return back to campus for the Spring semester. For the Class of 2013 it marks the beginning of their last semester as cadets.

I’ve watched the last several years as the seniors anticipate being part of the long grey line of graduates in May. They look forward to their time to break free of the rigors of the military college and begin their life as graduates who wear the ring. Sometime during graduation week it really begins to hit them. They have worked hard for four years to earn the right to wear the band of gold, walk the long grey line and receive their diploma.  What dawns on them graduation week is that while they are moving forward with their new life, they are leaving some of the best years of their life behind. They have become family to their classmates and will now spread across the globe to begin the next stage of their life.

I’ve heard it said among alumni and I have seen it with the cadets the past few years. They spend four years trying to graduate and the rest of their lives trying to get back.

For the parents of the Class of 2013 I have a few tips for this semester and beyond. . . .

Remember tickets to graduation are limited to 8 per cadet. they can request additional, but it isn’t guaranteed. The Cadet Activities office handles all tickets. Your cadet can network with their friends to see if they have tickets to spare.

Enjoy the next four months. Realize your cadet has made it this far in a very tough program because you gave them the tools necessary to succeed. It is a great accomplishment for the whole family.

Spring semester flies by. Visit when you can. Take photos.

Plan ahead for graduation. Make reservations for lodging and meals.

If your cadet will commission with a branch of the service begin now to learn what that will mean for your cadet. The required uniform is expensive. Rituals like the first salute from an NCO also includes handing them a silver dollar. Join the Military Parents of The Citadel Facebook group. The group includes current and former members of the military who are also parents of cadets are graduates as well as parents who learn from each other as they pass through the various training then deployment stages.

Make plans to see the friends YOU have made the past four years. The Facebook groups are great, but be sure to get email and mailing addresses.

Consider purchasing a frame for their diploma from the gift shop. They seem expensive, but custom framing is more expensive.

If your cadet is a member of the Summerall Guards consider purchasing a few items now to give as gifts later.

The Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association is a great lifelong gift. Other alumni gifts can be found on the CAA website.

Moms, if you want a “mom’s ring” you may need to let your husband know. Some cadets purchase them for their mothers, but many never think about it. Your husband and your cadet could work together to get one for you.

Your senior is a young adult. They will make mistakes. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes. Be there to listen when they want to talk, but try to move from a supervisory role to interested observer/consultant. It is time for them to strike out on their own. This transition can be as difficult and even more difficult for the parents than the cadets.

For everyone in the classes of 2014 – 2016, your time is coming soon. Bookmark this entry for future years.

A Note For Parents of 2014 BVA’s:

Be prepared for a tough few months. Your cadet is about to begin their most physically challenging time at The Citadel. I am also told by graduates that they look back on their time as BVA’s as some of the best times they had at The Citadel. They just don’t have extra time to call or keep in touch. Join the Facebook pages for the Summerall Guard Foundation and The Summerall Guards once your cadet makes it. Summerall Guards wearables can be purchased through their website. BVA pants and shirts too.

 

Previous Posts about Graduation week:

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

An Army Mom Reflects and Gives Thanks

We made it through our first Christmas with our soldier deployed. While we missed him, we did manage to have a very nice holiday with friends and family. Like many people I tend to become reflective this time of year. I thought I’d share some rambling thoughts and reflection about this past Christmas.

Two years ago Christmas day the first blog post I wrote for the military blog site Off the Base was published. The Making of a Military Mom started me on a journey I could never have imagined. When Bobbie O’Brien first asked me to contribute to the blog as the mom of an Army ROTC cadet soon to be officer my first response was, “Thank you, but I am not a writer.” Little did I know when I finally agreed to give it a try that my entries about our experience at The Citadel would be so well received. Eventually I posted my own blog. I’ve met so many wonderful people through this blog either in person, on Facebook, or through email. We have a very supportive community.

This Christmas a group of friends joined me and donated items to be sent to my son’s platoon for Christmas. We heard via Facebook the gift bags arrived right before Christmas. I was thrilled to hear all the boxes we had sent finally arrived. When I asked for photos he told me they would be coming. I checked email and Facebook several times a day hoping to see photos of our guy. A few days before Christmas our daughter asked me what I wanted most for Christmas. I told her, “I’d like a picture of soldiers in Afghanistan.” What a wonderful gift to receive Christmas morning in my stocking. While it wasn’t the picture I expected, it was one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received.

This picture was in my stocking Christmas morning. A gift from my daughter.

This picture was in my stocking Christmas morning. A gift from my daughter.

She also gave me a t-shirt with the little blue fish, Dory, from Finding Nemo. (In case I forget my name I can look at the shirt.)

In case I ever forget my name, I can look at my shirt. A gift from our daughter.

In case I ever forget my name, I can look at my shirt. A gift from our daughter.

A few days after Christmas an email arrived with three photos. Two of the platoon with the gift bags we sent and one of our guy in a hat we sent to him as a present. It made for a great start to the New Year. The guys look good and we could make out a few of the children’s Christmas pictures in the bags we sent.

Delta Company Christmas photo.

Delta Company Christmas photo.

Delta Company Christmas photo #2

Delta Company Christmas photo #2

New Year’s Eve 2012 marked the 19th year of working in the press box as a volunteer for what is now called the Chick-fil-A Bowl. No matter what changes I am going through in a given year the one constant for 19 years has been this activity. It is like a family reunion each year. My favorite person to catch up with is a gentleman our daughter calls Mr. Walter. He works for the Georgia Dome security during the bowl and his station is right next to the information table in the press box where I work. He is a wonderful, caring, man who is a wiz with statistics of all kinds. He was profiled in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in the past few years. He is an Atlanta celebrity among event goers since he works at multiple venues. I always enjoy our time catching up together at the Bowl. It is also fun to see the various reporters and others who attend the game.

Dorie and Walter catching up during their annual reunion.

Dorie and Walter catching up during their annual reunion.

Members of the press getting ready for the start of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Members of the press getting ready for the start of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Before Christmas I put word out that the soldiers in our son’s battalion needed some basic supplies. While they had the basic necessities some are stationed in remote areas and could use a few more basics. The response has been amazing! Checks began to arrive right away. I am told more are in the mail now. To date I have received $1,200 to go toward supplies. Several other people said checks are on the way. I am working with the family readiness group to determine what is needed and the items should be on their way next week. An initial shipment of military cold weather socks are on their way to our son’s platoon along with another shipment of the coveted soft toilet paper.

I am overwhelmed with these gifts in addition to the many people who have sent boxes to our son and his platoon. Many of these people I have only met a few times, or only know through online networks like Citadel parent Facebook groups. Some are teachers and have sent boxes of goodies and needed items along with letters from children. My son tells me the guys really like the boxes I send the best. I really think he means the boxes of items I and our friends send. In a very real way I feel we are a small part of a huge family that includes: Citadel families, Army families, childhood friends, college friends, church friends, and a few caring people who read the blog and I have never met.

This past week a package arrived from a Citadel mom. It included a card and check and a very special gift for my daughter and me. A picture frame with two patriotic angel pins. Tears came to my eyes when I read the card. The sender is a military spouse. She has a first year knob at The Citadel and has given me some very helpful tips the past few months. She told me that while the Citadel parents are like family that the military family is even larger.

A beautiful gift from a Citadel mom who is also a military spouse. She is also our angel.

A beautiful gift from a Citadel mom who is also a military spouse. She is also our angel.

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful and supportive friends. I am beginning 2013 with the firm knowledge that our family is blessed to have such a wonderful group of people surrounding us with their care and their prayers.

%d bloggers like this: