About Me

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When people think of a military spouse, they think of a woman married to a service member. But this isn't always the case as nearly 10% of us are men. I was born in November 1978. I am a stay at home dad to two boys, one born in October of 2000 and the other born in June of 2009. I married my wife in June of 2006. In April of 2010 she left to go to basic training for the US Army.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dear MOAAPrez: Words are weapons

Dear MOAAPrez,

Do you remember Myspace? I am sure you sort of remember it but in its peak I am guessing you were doing something much more important than viewing the next phase in our evolution of social media. If I had to guess you were, oh I don't know, fighting a war and leading our nations warriors. And if you weren't doing that, I am sure you were serving in some other way. So I am going to assume you didn't spend too much time messing around over there where the DuckFace first became popular, but you know what they say about assuming, right?

I had a Myspace account. Ironically it is how I met my wife. Well, met her again. We grew up together in the same small community but our paths went separate ways some time in middle school.

Myspace was also my first introduction for blogging. I had always enjoyed writing but even I sometimes had a hard time reading what I wrote. So when I bought my 1st computer, in like 2005, I  found out I could pour my heart out into a blog. I have always been one with a lot to say, to a fault even. It is one of my worst attributes. One I have been working on for a long time but no matter how many times someone says "think before you speak", it just doesn't work.

I am reminded of a story in the bible from Romans 7. Paul says "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." That is the only way I can explain what it is like to not be able to withhold my words. But you may be surprised by the amount of restraint I have learned to have over my tongue over these last 4 years as a military spouse despite my recent behavior.

I have known for quite some time that my words are weapons, so much so that my Myspace blog was named Words Are Weapons. I named it that not because I was trying to be someone who used his words to harm, but so I would be reminded that with my words I must be mindful of what I say. I basically came up with it over another passage in the bible; James 3:1-12. I would go ahead and share more about that with you, but 2 things that typically shouldn't be talked too openly about are religion and politics. At least those were the rules where I grew up.

I would say the single biggest reason I never enlisted in the military is because I know I can't keep my trap shut. Anyone who knows me knows I severely lack a filter. That is what makes writing so appealing to me. I can stop and think before I say something. And if I say something I probably should think twice of, I can go back and delete it before I post it. But if I post something that I will regret, I almost always leave it up as it was written anyway. Simply because I do believe in accountability for what one says.

I will be the first one to admit that I have said some things I regret during this budget conversation. But when you are just one person who is asking for true transparency and accountability, you have to have a very loud voice. And you have to say some very harsh things. As I have mentioned previously, the harshest and most bitter truth is still more honorable than the sweetest and kindest lie/falsetruth.

From the very beginning I knew the way this was all going to go. I knew that the longer this got drawn out the louder I would get and the stronger my words would become. I knew my words would also be more pointed and direct. It is why I pleaded with you (and others) to help me exit this conversation as quickly as possible. Someone asked me if I was "hell bent" on making my statement on this issue regarding the commissary. Of course I denied it, but deep down I know there is a sliver of truth to the fact that I am. But saying "hell bent" is what throws me off. I would prefer to say I am set in the truth.

In case I need to remind you of the truth as I see it let me try to be clear:

MOAA says an E5 family of 4 with 10 yrs service will lose something in the neighborhood of $5,000 per year if the current budget went through. Approximately $3,000 of that if the commissary lost its subsidy.

I contend that the DoD and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were correct with their recommendation for the commissary subsidy to be cut because our families don't stand to lose anywhere near $3,000 per year if they were forced to shop at stores like Walmart which are assumedly available outside nearly every major CONUS military installation. While Walmart may have a slightly higher price on some products, that store CLEARLY gives our service members the most purchasing power, dollar for dollar.

I believe that it is a disservice to continue to tell our troops that the commissary is "worth the trip". Many young families come in to the military life with no shopping experience and they are given the commissary "juice"/"koolaid" to drink telling them to shop there. If E1-E6 makes up over half our force, then the average service member is one of these individuals. And I can assure you, as I did Sergeant Major Barret, your "average" E1-E6 is not saving(or adding to their budget) what your organization and DeCA is reporting.

For my E5 family of 4(4 yrs of service) I estimate our yearly savings at the commissary to be zero dollars and zero cents. In fact, if I did the majority of my shopping at the commissary, it would cost me considerably more to feed my family. I still shop there for bulk items and meat(so I don't have to shop sale ads which are often cheaper-it's the convenience factor).

But you know all of those things as I have said them every way possible. Yet you still remain firm in telling our elected leaders that if the commissary loses its funding our military families will suffer considerably in their wallets. Now sir, I understand Walmart may not be the type of place for a guy like you, but it is safe to say most of our Jr Enlisted would be much better served if you would stop serving them the partisan politicking hot sauce.

And if you really break things down I think we can definitely link a challenge to the transition of our veterans into the civilian world being attributed to not knowing how to shop for generics or where to get the best deal. Towing the company line regarding the commissary hurts our military families.

I understand you want to win this budget battle. During the MOAA Townhall that kicked this thing off you all were VERY clear that "our military families are under attack"(or something close to that). Every time I see a talking head or a press report these days I hear all about how President Obama is trying to eliminate unicorns by stabbing them with ivory tusks and the Joint Staff is on a constant bender while Congress is..... well..... some of those reports might be right.

The one thing I can't get over is what people have said to me throughout my twitter tirade and blog back talk and facebook frenzy. I kept being told "Wayne, it's not what you are saying that is wrong, it's how you are saying it."

Can I let you in on a secret, sir? I don't have the right words. I am not a leader. I learned that by constantly falling on my face as I tried to be an advocate for male spouses. I learned that I don't possess the qualities it takes to be a real leader. A leader from the front. Real leaders truly empower others for doing great things. A real leader doesn't instigate trouble or act like an anus. Which I am doing as I follow suit of those leading these discussions. While I am not a complete anus, I know I can be one. If I were a complete anus, I would use a more colorful word to describe myself. A word I am sure you want to call me by now that means the same thing as anus.

I understand the trendy thing to do these days is to manipulate and bend words for ones own causes gain, but that's not the way it is supposed to be. Especially not for our families.

No matter what news source you look at someone is always taking a side. As an example just this weekend I read back to back headlines from major news sources that read like this:

Hamas turns down Israel's peace treaty.

Followed by.....

Israel turns down Hamas' peace treaty.

Everyone has an agenda and I understand that. But when it comes to tax payer money paying for our countries most valuable asset, our service members, there is no room for anything partisan. Even though the commissary can be sometimes good for our families, it isn't nearly as valuable as many other things. Especially not when (correct me if I am wrong) only 22% of our force lives on military installations.

The commissary is great, but as far as cash in the pocket, it doesn't add much(if any). So if it isn't considerably cheaper than Walmart, why would you and DeCA advertise it as such? I mean really, when you walk in the commissary doors they list their competitors prices by saying Store A and Store B. You and I both know Store A is over priced and Store B is too. Why not start advertising Walmarts prices? I am guessing because 12 packs of coke are usually cheaper at Walmart and it wouldn't be good for business.

So far in this budget battle the commissary is seemingly getting spared while our service members are losing actual honest to goodness cold hard cash by losing money from BAH and the 1.8% raise that will go down to 1%. That is cash out of our families pockets that can't be made up.  That's not a fair trade in this current economy. And this whole fiasco may be why so many civilians think military folks get free food. You are telling America that if they give our troops $1,000,000,000 that our troops save 30% off their grocery bill. It sounds justifiable, but its wrong.

I wish I could say I was totally exiting this conversation, but I don't think I am. Not yet. I am afraid if I do that I will give up on believing our leaders are by and large great people, yourself as well. But people all the same who sometimes forget......

I can't tell you what your next move should be. Besides encouraging you to use your community leaders to mimic what the MCRMC is doing. I don't see you ever admitting that "the commissary isn't always worth the trip, but it means something to us" because you would lose a lot of face if you had to tell Congress and the American people that our service members are better served shopping elsewhere. But can you continue to maintain towing the company line?

Maybe one day I will tell you what is motivating me on all this. Cuz it really isn't the price of tea in the commissary.

Love, peace and chicken grease!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dear Mr. Cuban: I am sorry.

Dear Mr. Cuban,

I will attempt to keep this short and sweet as well as excluding poor attempts at humor. **sidenote, upon editing I realized this isn't short and sweet. But not too many poor attempts at humor.**

I am sorry for having written that letter to you asking for a loan. The truth is, #MyFamilyNeverHadItSoGood and we are already #LivinTheDream.

I am confidant that we can make a move to change our lifestyle here in the near future without your assistance. We are very fortunate in life because of how frugal we are and after discussion with my wife and a good conversation with a lender, we can go all in. OK, maybe not all in, but at least up to our wastes. You know, right about that spot where the cold water starts hitting your......... sorry, I said no poor attempts at humor.

The truth is because of the tough times financially our lives started out in, we have made good choices along the way. We have somehow managed to keep the two homes we left in Florida afloat as well as purchase another along the way. Although we know selling now would cost us tens of thousands of dollars, at some point we all have to take the plunge.

We are holding out hope that we will figure out a way to finance a 4th home without selling any of the others, but we really don't want to give up the quality of life we enjoy to live in a less than desirable home. Mind you, I am OK living in a trailer. There ain't nuttin wrong with living in a home that gets delivered. So don't think I am being too prissy. We simply don't want to share a bathroom or get too close. All of us like our space.

It wasn't until I thought about the type of home we desire that really made me realize how selfish I was asking for a loan. Of course it was a loan and not a handout, but I know there are tens of thousands of Americans who are a helluva lot more hardworking than I am who are being held back and aren't #LivinTheDream. There are families who can't afford a hotel room for the night let alone have it as well as I do.

My wife's service to our country has been rewarded well. Although it's not as well as those guys you snap towels with, it is a modest living that affords us much more than many Americans. Now you won't see me attending any of your games unless my kid really needs a father/son moment or the tickets are free, but we do OK. Enough to also afford me staying home with the kids. But in a way I can almost view her service, and my families service, as us repaying our debt to America.

Unlike nearly ALL military families, my family was in fact indebted to the government in my eyes. For the better part of my adult life I used government assistance. Whether it was for my kids births, the one's enormous hospital bills when he was young and sick all the time or the food stamps we received. My country was there for me. So in hindsight I now see our time in this life as repaying our debt.

**While I am speaking of debts to society, I believe it is important to say that I am only speaking for me and mine right now. This country and the people in it, myself included, owe a great deal to a whole lot of people. Most especially to those who gave a little more than the average service member. We must not forget that there were promises made that can't be broken.**

My wife and I had a more or less 7-10 year plan when this journey began. Right from the onset we learned what is to me the most valuable lesson the Army taught us, adapt and overcome. We have adapted to all of the changed plans and overcome many obstacles. Although we aren't on that 7-10 year plan anymore, we still have a dream and the means to achieve it. It would have been nice to be handed like 500k with great terms, but, nothing great is ever easy. *That's my motto for marriage too.*

There are so many other people you could help who need it more than I. And you already do so much more than I give you credit for. Sometimes jealousy blinds me from thinking how much you rich folk do for us when we aren't looking. So while I am at it, I am sorry for that too.

I wish you well in the future and although I may never be a Mavs fan, I will always be cheering you on. I will forever remember you as the owner who lures free agents with a game of wiffle ball in the living room of your mansion. I don't know if that story is even true but it is how I have always thought of you.

Wayne C. Perry

PS..... I just gotta know, when you are hanging out with the superstars of the NBA or your buddies, do you guys still make jokes about bowel movements and talk about farting? Or is my circle of guys really that many classes below? Is the key to being successful to stop telling fart jokes?

**Don't take it personal that I didn't add a song. I simply can't think of one. My brain is fried from a lot of writing tonight but I couldn't put this off anymore. It's been bothering me for a couple days already.**

Saturday, May 31, 2014


HERE'S SOME MONEY TO SAVE THE COMMISSARY..... and do a few other things along the way.

A reenlistment option for the service member(SM) and their family to stay at their current duty station for the term of their new contract and forfeit their final PCS upon their ETS.

As an incentive, offer either a $10k cash bonus or an additional $20+k of "purchasing power" on top of their VA loan or a federally funded loan at a lower interest rate than national norms or........ I will let actual educated people decide.

Now you may be wondering why offer an incentive? The answer is simple, we want our SM's to transition well out of the service. And what better way to do that than allow them to set up some roots in the communities they are sent to?

Now you may be wondering aren't I the guy who wants to cut personnel costs...... and you are right. I do. I think they are out of hand. But if you understand the costs associated with moving a SM and their family you know that a simple PCS can be tens of thousands of dollars. The government once paid my family a couple grand to move like 3 miles. ***And no.... even though I was urged by many to put bags of concrete in the truck to add weight to it, I didn't.*** If I had to pull a number out of my derriere I would say a PCS has to cost the government at least $15k for an E5 family of four. But I am only assuming that number so don't make an ass out of you and me and take it as gospel. I am enough of an anus for everyone.

Not only would it save the DoD money by not having to PCS a service member, they would also save money on the final PCS upon the SM's ETS. **BAZINGA!** An easy $30 grand per service member family that uses this retention option.

Let's say conservatively that 1,000 troops sign up for this. That's $30,000,000. Add in the $53 million from not funding professional sports and simply asking professional sports to help us carry this burden, and BAM! BOOM! POW! POP! We are on our way to funding the commissary.

Maybe the duty station the SM is at isn't the one they want to stay at. So maybe they only get half of the incentive if they waive their ETS PCS. There are a lot of folks who want to retire to a duty station they were once at.

I dunno.... I am just some dude. I don't have a big calculator or nuttin like dat. Maybe it isn't cost effective.

While the monetary gain could be significant the benefit to a transitioning service member and their family could be literally priceless. Not only could the family establish roots for both the SM's career after the military, but it would help spouse employment as well.

Of course there is the benefit of the children knowing they can finally call some place home as well. For many it may be the first time.

In addition to the laying roots idea, any service members who are wounded(mentally or physically) can have a community already in place around them should they need care after service.

Not only would our veterans who could truly use the extra camaraderie get it after their service is over, so could any military family. Down to every last brat. Considering many of these brats would like to follow in their parents footstep, that's a pretty neat bonus.

Finally, for good measure, let's throw into that 'retention incentive package' a lifetime access card to the commissary.

I want to reiterate, I am not preaching the gospel here. I am just throwing stuff out there. Cuz that's what I do. I throw stuff out there. Even if it means slinging some crap. Crap is often times useful in creating good soil. There are a lot of variables to what I suggested but I bet it would pass the sniff test based on how practical it is. The one thing I can't figure out is how to make it fair for people living OCONUS who don't want to live in another country. The one's that want to come home.

Times are changing folks. I believe in change. I think if there is one thing Americans can agree on they can agree on President Obama's change. One portion of them believe in the change he promised and the other portion believes in the change that President Obama will bring in 2016. Me? I am just gonna be a twit and write some blogs and grow some vegetables and flowers.

Love, peace and chicken grease!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dear Mark Cuban(Dallas Mavericks Owner): Can I have some money?

Hey Mark!

I know you are a busy man but I am hoping amidst your hectic schedule that you might take the time to read this. Honestly, I find reading what I write is best done sitting on the pot, but maybe you have a different routine. But whatever, the only thing I would ask is you only take me half serious. You can choose what you want to take me serious on.

For starters let me be clear, I do not want a handout. I have had enough of those in life. What I would like is a loan. A very untraditional loan. I could really use your help fulfilling my fantasy that my wife agreed to when we were lying in bed this past weekend.

We were supposed to go to a Memorial Day BBQ with some friends but as we lay in bed she turned to me and just about knocked my socks off. With a sparkle in her eye and her lips releasing intoxicating words she said "What about Emu's? Do you think we can raise Emu's on a farm? I have been looking into it and it seems sustainable. Do you want to go to the Olympia Farmer's Market and strike up a conversation with the guy there who raises Emu's? And then we can live on a farm."

Mark, I'm tellin' ya man....that may not sound like a turn on to you, but boy is it to me. Almost enough to make me shave my beard and drive her Honda Fit with some embarrassingly loud pumping music on my way to the grocery store to buy her food and wine so I can come home and make her a sammich and bring it back up to her in bed.

I guess you can say we got a weird relationship, huh?

At any rate, I think we have moved on from Emu's. The plan is to find a piece of property that allows for 2+ acres of mini greenhouses/crop growing and 3 plus OR minus acres to use for potted plants in a nursery setting. I have several ideas for selling what I am growing, but let's just say I want to be like the guy on the side of the road set up under a tent.

Of course I do dream bigger but let's leave something for the imagination.

In addition to the 5+/- acres for what I call "farming" we would like an additional bit of acreage. We aren't too picky on that but what it comes down to is I want to live somewhere that I don't have to see the disappointment in my kids face when I tell them no to the ice cream man on a daily basis. I want to be far enough out that getting an ice cream, besides for in a quart, really is a special treat. All without the reminder of that god awful music it blares.

We also want to live somewhere that we can let both of our boys and both of our dogs off their leashes so they can roam, be free and pee on whatever tree they want.

We are not looking for a plantation or a plantation home, but we would like to make a lateral move where it doesn't shock our system too much with this change in lifestyle. Yet still a place that inspires me, especially to write and work with my hands and back.

I would say we have a pretty solid 5 year plan. My wife has 18 months left on her contract. There is a strong possibility she may reenlist for 3 more years IF that option is available, but no matter our choice we are prepared for another "growing season" of our own.

We would like to believe that we could be more self sustaining within the next 18 months. Should my wife get out she will go to school to receive another degree in something(quite possibly AG related). Doing that would allow us to collect a small stipend from her AWESOME GI Bill that would ensure we get through the first 4 years of this loan I am requesting. However, we also like the idea of having the security that my wife's occupation offers us. Which sounds weird, but really, my family is doing well. The Army has been good to us. But like everything with the Army there is a catch. In order for my wife to reenlist we will most likely have to see her volunteer for a deployment. Yes, I know..... the war will be over why are they deploying? To answer that a deployment isn't always to a combat area.

There are many reasons behind this move, I assure you none of them are illogical. We are in a position in life where I can guarantee the loan because of the wise choices and personal financial responsibility we have made up until this point. Of course we are only a few paychecks from disaster, but so are a lot of people in America. The American Dream doesn't seem to be what it used to be, does it?

As I reflected upon this Memorial Day weekend and that awesome 45 seconds in bed with my wife when she pillow talked me with Emu's, I couldn't help but to think that the dream I have been dreaming for years(10+) could possibly come true. I don't know how many times in my life I have looked at farmland online. But it's been a lot. Living off the land is the American Dream in my eyes. Of course I am still a person of Walmart so we would like to be within 30-45 minutes of one, but I want to go to work in my backyard. Many times right alongside my sons. **Before you get some dad and son holding hands picking flowers visual in your mind...... my family is more like The Conner's than the Brady's. And I do play the part of Roseanne quite well if I do say so myself**

I believe the American Dream is different in everyone's eyes. And I believe the dream is still alive in people's hearts.

When I thought about the best way to honor our fallen men and women service members AND their survivors this past weekend, I honestly felt like I was doing it as my family traveled both the countryside and internet looking for property so we could live the dream. I think if any of us wants to honor the lives and legacies of these men and women who died/survived for us, then we should focus on living the American Dream as we individually see it in our own eyes while being cognizant to the fact the dream looks a little different for everyone.

I am not writing you for money. I am writing you because I find it easier to write when I am directing what I want to say towards someone. I honestly don't believe this will ever cross your eyes.(but if it does I hope you are on the pot-it would make the story better) I also wouldn't know what to say or do if you reached out to me besides for stumble over words. I do understand and believe in a proper order in life but I will find a way to bull my way through whatever bureaucracy I have to in order to help me live the dream. I am confidant that where we are in life can afford us to make this change with or without me naming my farm "Cubanopolis". I however have NO patience and will work every angle I can until I can dig my shovel in the dirt and work shirtless without fear of offending the neighbors.

Besides, the more I tell myself this is going to happen the better the chances it will actually happen.

Love, peace and chicken grease!

PS...... What's your American Dream. Was it winning the championship? It's OK if it was. I think much of America celebrated with you and Dirk.

PSS.... Do you still talk to Vince? He's from Daytona like us so maybe if I ever put up a basketball hoop he can bring me some Sonny's BBQ sauce and come shoot hoops and chow down with us.

To me the American Dream can be summed up in this 3 minute movie clip.

All the land in the world would mean nothing to me without my wife/family. But she is with me. So are the boys.

#BecomingGodSoil in #TheDirt with #BootsOn while #LivinTheDream

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dear MOAAPrez: I am throwing down a challenge

Dear MOAAPrez,

Forgive me for not addressing you by neither your name or the retired rank you deservedly earned. I honestly don't know either for sure. I have tried to keep name and rank out of my mind during this political conversation to limit it becoming personal. A conversation, as I have expressed previously, I do not like being part of.

At the end of the day the reason I don't much care for politics is because of what it does to me when I am passionately and aggressively pursuing what it is I believe in. When it comes to politics I can throw punches with the best of 'em. As for taking blows, I tend to keep my opponent on their toes never really knowing which direction I am coming from next. The only blows that tend to knock me off my feet are low blows. But I usually don't call foul because I tend to throw a few myself.

The worst part about politics is it forces us all to choose sides even though we want to believe there is no sides to choose from. We want to believe that the side we are on is the side that is best for everyone. After all, the essence of anything political is to set forth how people are to be governed.

The governing of people isn't a bad thing in my opinion, so politics are necessary, and not a bad thing either. While politics are necessary it is the flip side of politics that makes things get ugly. It is the partisan part of politics that ruins everything. It is the partisan aspect of politics that forces each and every one of us on to one of three sides:

Side 1: Yay
Side 2: Nay

or in other words......

Side 1: I'M RIGHT!!!
Side 2: YOU'RE WRONG!!!
Side 3: "YO! Wassup!?! Wanna go to the bar to escape all the people who want to talk about religion and politics?"

In case my illustration didn't show you exactly what partisan politics is to me, allow me to define it for you based on the definition I have used as I have cast my inflammatory stone accusing you(as in MOAAPrez) and the Alliance of playing partisan politics:

Please note the words Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative or any other politically identifying marker is excluded from the definition

Partisan: Noun: A strong supporter of a party, cause or person
                    synonyms: supporter, follower, adherent, devotee, champion, etc
         Adjective: Prejudiced in favor of a particular cause
                    synonyms: biased, prejudiced, one sided, discriminatory, colored, partial, etc.

I know you are a smart man, much smarter than this guy writing you, so you may not have needed me to define such an ugly word or google it to know the true meaning like I did, but I wanted to be clear that we were on the same page.

I, like you, want our military families taken care of to the extent it offers us the best quality of life our government can afford.

I, like you, want to be sure our readiness doesn't suffer.

I, like you, want transparency and accountability within our government when it comes to how funds are given out.

I am sure I could go on with a list of things we both want, but the problem is it is unclear how we are going to get there. While the notion of "absolutely NO cuts" has fleeted since the time this #BudgetBattle heated up, I am still quite concerned about how our families will be represented.

There is a great number of us(according to facebook posts) that believe there really should be some deep cuts to personnel costs, but the voice of our community is vehemently opposed to any reduction in personnel costs. That is where the partisanism enters. **Well.... it actually entered with the use of DeCA's numbers but that's a different story**

We need now more than ever for our one collective voice to be heard, but we can not do it when our VSO's and our advocates are so prejudiced to one side. Cuts have to happen. Including in our compensation packages. I would like to believe you know that, but that's not the message being sent out. The message being sent out right now by our VSO's has not only reminded our families of the "political games" played in Washington by Congress, but it has also caused for our military families to almost revolt against the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high ranking leaders. As you are well aware, if our military service members and their families don't have faith in those elected to lead the country or lead on the battlefield, we are FREAKING SCREWED!!!!

Those folks are making tough choices. We both know that. And while I don't really like the idea that they are speaking for me without talking to me, what they are saying is a helluva lot closer to how I think than what the Alliance and MOAA are saying. My inspiration to agree with them is driven by the fact that I believe many cuts should have happened awhile ago. There is a plethora of wasted spending and bloated reporting to go around(for bloated reporting-see DeCA numbers). I believe now that some of your butts are being held to the fire over there in DC as our representatives, I believe that maybe now you will take the warnings of impending cuts a little more serious. **On a side note, it has been a welcome relief to me personally to see members of the Alliance begin to ask the questions regarding where cuts can come from**

I keep hearing how Congress is trying to throw military families "under the bus". Well you know what I think, I think that bus is loaded with elected leaders and MANY appointed leaders, including you(as in MOAAPrez), and y'all have been driving us towards this fiscal cliff together. But don't think of it as a Greyhound commuter bus, think of it as a party bus. **For proper illustration it should be noted this bus is filled with goodie/swag bags and top shelf alcohol**

The worst part about my above bus analogy is the bus is driven by an E5 family of 4 who has been taken for a ride.

I know I don't have to tell you how much is at stake regarding this #BudgetBattle but I must implore you to look #BeyondTheInstallationGates. I have seen how the Alliance has removed their laser focus from certain trees and is now looking more at the forest, but we must look beyond the forest here too.

I remember the first time I heard the quote "America isn't at war, the Marines are at war. America is at the mall." I believed so passionately in that as a new military spouse that I lost sight of what brought my family to where we are. I forgot about #BackWhereIComeFrom.

I have spent the better part of the last 18 months trying to go back to the man I was before I became a MANspouse. This #BudgetBattle was the climatic point that caused me to take a firm grasp on who I was before my life got a little sidetracked. However I couldn't have got to the point without following the road I have traveled.

As I mentioned I know you are much smarter than me, but I do think there is one area I may just know quite a bit more than you about. And that is the life as a civilian and what Main St USA looks like.

I spent the better part of my adult life greatly struggling to provide for my family. A good deal of that time on welfare. As you might imagine a very large portion of my circle of friends struggled as well. After all, the only thing that really separates people is a socio-economic status. The folks who know where the best deal on their groceries is at are my people.

Since I don't know much about you I can only assume while I was getting stoned, cutting grass and running a youth center while fighting for custody of my oldest son, you were in fact at war. I may not have been at the mall, but what's the difference when comparing anything I have ever done to what you(or any service member) have done? However my family did something about that.

I would like to think I have a unique perspective that you will never see. Not only do I see life as an E5 family of 4, but I see life as a regular average American struggling to get by because I was one for practically a full adult life before becoming a MANspouse. Think of me not as "Joe the Plumber" but as "Wayne the Landscaper". Or actually..... "Larry the Cable Guy". If I can be him I want to be him. I will let you be Batman. OK?

Sorry..... I saw a squirrel.

I don't mean to make it sound like I am questioning whether you know the American people or not, but I am.

Prior to my wife's enlistment I was your typical Beer, BBQ, Burgers and Baseball are what Memorial Day is all about. Sure, I went to a parade and shopped at a few Memorial Day Sales Events, but I had no clue as to what the sacrifice our military families endured really looked like. It wasn't until my family became a military family that I understood the heartache and pain that should fill our day of memory to those we lost before we celebrate their lives as they would want us to. It was easy for me to buy into the fact that America was at the mall. As I watched my friends and family from a distance with our first PCS I couldn't help but think "DON'T YOU KNOW MY WIFE IS DOWNRANGE!!! DON'T YOU CARE!!! WHY ARE YOU AT THE MALL!!!"

As a military community we are quick to say the general population doesn't understand the service and sacrifice our families make. And holy crap are we right! The average American who is just going about their day is completely oblivious to some of the crud we deal with. These days it seems our veterans are one of two people in America's eyes, either a ticking PTS time bomb or a celebrity war hero type persona. When the truth is our force is made up of regular folks doing extraordinary things. At the core of our force is that we are American and believe in our country. And while America doesn't have a firm grasp on what we look like as military families, I do believe we as military families in many ways have forgotten what America looks like. Especially an America not at war.

I know we are still at war. I know troops will always deploy. Even a noncombat deployment sucks. And if you are like me..... one night of CQ for the wife sucks...... oh wait.. you don't have that problem. Sorry, I saw a squirrel again.

I have said all of that to prepare you for the challenge I am throwing down. You may even accept this as a personal challenge.

I am challenging you, Vice Admirmal Norb Ryan, Jr (I just googled it), to assemble the Alliance to conduct their own survey of troops and families in forum fashion to find out what benefits matter to us to then submit to the MCRMC a reflection of what matters to our families beyond the scope of anything the government could assemble. Consider it a complimentary piece to whatever cluster the government is organizing for us as the commission travels the country hearing from a handful of people. I am sure the folks at SpouseBuzz/Military.com will give you some tips on what they just did at their Spouse Summit that generated such raw and remarkable answers.

I have only two stipulations before I can say I unequivocally trust you and the Alliance to speak for me and my E5 family of 4:

1) You are going to have to say something to the effect of  "The commissary, it's not always worth the trip but it means something to us." You can add your own twist to it I just ask you don't use twisted numbers any longer.

2) You don't put MOAA or AUSA or Blue Star Families or American Legion or VFW or NMFA or any other private/public veteran support agency/business as the title sponsor(The KYP Alliance is just fine-we just need to work on what is a definitive promise and what isn't). I understand for years individually y'all have been doing some GREAT things and recently y'all are working really well together, but with this current state of our budget, there is a shared concern and a shared responsibility here as I do believe me saving a nickel on Kraft Mac n Cheese could effect the veteran suicide rate. There are enough organizations to all help tow the line to get a feel for what past, present and future service members think. Heck, it may even breathe some life into the VFW. And what the VFW was(as I see it) to our WWII, Korean and NAM vets may be just what our current vets need to help the transition. Let's fill our halls across America with veterans and their families instead of clogging our internet with virtual town halls.

This is all your call. Or maybe another Alliance leader will run with this seed I have planted. But out of all the Alliance folks, I would trust you the most to take point on this. Which sounds weird but if you agree to the first stipulation I mentioned above, I can say I fully trust you.

It is gonna suck to have to say the purchasing power numbers are closer to what the Joint Chiefs said and not what MOAA is saying. Especially since it is the commissary numbers that most likely represent the difference, but it could be worth it.

A humbled man with pure intentions in his eyes, righteousness in his heart, wisdom in his words and bleeds compassion with a fiery passion driving his soul is unrivaled.

The ball is in your court. The truth (as I see it) really will set you free. Well, at least from me. As you have noticed I really do have one powerful voice. I just can't figure out if I am an advocate or an A-hole. Crazy or correct. So you tell me, what am I? I am sure you can get ahold of me.

Love, peace and chicken grease!
Wayne "Doughboy" Perry

PS...... I really do respect you. Not so much as in MOAAPrez, but Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, Jr. I respect you so much you are getting three songs in this blog entry.

The first one illustrates that when the "bus" started going a direction I didn't like, I hopped off.

The second one is my hope that you piece everything I have ever said together and see we want the same thing we just have different ideas of how to get there.

The third song is one I hope to sing with you as a duet at a Karaoke bar. There's one special lady I would like to serenade with that song too. She's taken a leap of faith on me twice now and I screwed her over both times.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Transparency and Honesty: My Skeleton in the Closet- I have been cheating on my wife

For the better part of the last two months I have been preaching the need for complete transparency and complete honesty. I have written about the need for honor, integrity and high moral character. And I have done these things with the fear that my personal secret(AKA "skeleton in the closet") would come to light. After all, I am Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Spouse of the Year for 2014(JBLM SOY) so it's not like I can fly under the radar. It would be only a matter of time before someone in our tight knit community found out and I would be exposed with either the truth or a rumor of my truth. And with the type of man I am, I would prefer to do my own laundry instead of having someone else hang it out for me.

As the last few weeks passed and my words became stronger regarding honor, integrity and high moral character, my heart ached with conviction over this secret of mine. I knew I had to spill it before the anguish consumed me. So last night when my wife got home from work I sat her down and told her how I dishonored her.

For those worried about my marriage and want to get a sense of where things are at the moment, push play and have a listen as you read what may be the hardest thing I have ever written.

I can't say my wife was too surprised when I told her. We knew with PCSing to JBLM that I may succumb to this affair. "The other woman" in my life is in the area and it was something both of us worried about for me based on my track record. We talked about it here and there in the months leading up to the move but we never had any serious discussion regarding how we would handle it.

It only took about 2 months or so for me to reengage this "other woman". We pretty much picked up right where we left off. It started with a quick fling and then it turned semi consistent. But it wasn't too long before our encounters turned into something regular. I honestly believe we were made for each other. I love my wife dearly, I really do, but I come alive with the "other woman" in my life. I am a different me. A me I actually like.

People have been asking me what my secret is to losing weight and the honest answer is the "other woman" is my secret. She makes me feel good about myself. She motivates me to get off the couch and do things. As weird as it sounds, she even inspires me to be a better parent. Because of her I have a little extra pep in my step, hope in my heart and a smile on my face. She makes me feel "high".

Some of you may be wondering how I could have this ongoing affair for roughly 8 months now and still sleep at night next to my wife. I really can't answer that for sure. All I can do is ask that you please not judge me. You don't live in my home. You aren't me. And if the truth were to be told, I actually sleep much better when I spend time with her before I go to bed. It sounds twisted, but it's really not.

Gathering the courage to come clean with my wife was not easy. I remember vividly the last time I told her about this "other woman" and let's just say the conversation didn't go too well. In fact, last time I nearly lost my marriage. I can't say I could blame my wife, I was a complete jerkoff back then AND cheating on her with this "other woman". My only hope when telling her yesterday was that maybe she would be understanding to our current unique lifestyle and my needs as a man to be allowed to do what I want if it made me feel good. We are preparing for either a deployment or an unaccompanied tour and I honestly believe this "other woman" could help me get through it. And in some crazy sort of way I need to try to convince my wife of that.

My wife's reaction was better than I thought it would be. She didn't fly off the handle nor did she walk right out on me. I think it is still too early to tell how we will move forward, but I get the sense that Bob Marley was right when he said "Everything gonna be alright". We still have to work through the issue and weigh our options, but I have hope.

Now I know it's not proper to expose the "other woman", but what's fair is fair. If she is to be labeled a home-wrecker then everyone should be able to call her out. So I am going to put her name out there for the world to see and I am going to come completely into the light:

My name is Wayne Perry, I am a military spouse and the 2014 JBLM SOY. For the last 8 months I have been having an affair with Mary-Jane.

For those of you who don't know her by her nickname maybe you know her by her given name- Marijuana.

Now don't go judging her based on what you may have heard about her, she's really not a bad girl. And definitely not worthy of the label (Drug Classification) she gets. I'm not saying she is for everyone, but I do believe she is for me.

I have talked quite a bit about my struggles with depression, anxiety and mental health. Since joining this life as a military spouse I have put more pills in my mouth than I ever did in my 30 previous years combined. From roughly July 2011-July 2013 I was off an on various meds with limited success. No matter how many pills I put in my body or how many talk therapy sessions I attended, nothing worked as well as weed does for me. The last Psych Dr I was seeing felt we had whatever is wrong with me manageable, and we did. I wasn't going into long slumbers of depression and I was taking less Xanax, but I wasn't me. On top of many other things I lost motivation and I gained weight.

The last time I was smoking pot consistently I lost 76lbs. Then I became a military spouse and I couldn't dare jeopardize my wife's career by using an illegal substance so I stopped. Then I gained 106lbs. In the 8 months since I started smoking again I have lost nearly 70lbs. And I have done nothing to help myself to lose that weight. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. I don't exercise at all. I don't diet. I still eat what I want and when I want, just maybe not as much. I do of course get the munchies and on occasion I satisfy that urge. Oh boy do I sometimes satisfy that urge. So whatever you thought you knew about pot and munchies, hopefully you will open your mind up a little more. Because it is either the pot that has helped me lose the weight or the fact that I don't shop at the commissary all that much anymore. I will let you decide.

As far as my mental health..... I have never been better. Don't get me wrong I still have an occasional mood swing, but I am not relegated to my couch any longer. I haven't taken the psych pills since we got here with the exception of a Xanax a few times. And each of those times me taking Xanax was directly related to the commissary. So it was only recently that I needed them.

Prior to leaving Kansas I consulted with my Dr about the possibility of trying to use marijuana to help me out and he strongly encouraged me to give it a try based on my past experiences with it. I think he and I both knew that I was surviving on the pills, but I wasn't thriving. And I don't know about you but I would rather be a thriving survivor than a struggling survivor.

I don't know what pot does for others, but I know what it does for me and I like it. I like that it makes me feel more creative. I like that it helps me get off the couch and do busy work. I am sure my wife wishes that my busy work involved windex, a toilet brush and a mop instead of a shovel, dirt and plant seeds, but I think I do a decent job at balancing everything out. I could always do more, but who couldn't?

My wife and I still haven't fully discussed this issue, but I am hoping it won't be an issue. However only time will tell. I think for the both of us our biggest fear will be how is this could effect her as a US Army soldier. Prior to moving here I searched high and low regarding the Army's take on spouses smoking pot and there really isn't much clarity that I could find. I know as a civilian I could smoke pot and they can't say anything but there is a grey area regarding whether a soldier is allowed to have it in their dwelling whether it is theirs or not. So my continuing to smoke pot may not be up to whether she says I can or can't (because I would listen to her-I love my marriage way more than a bowl). It may be up to the answers I get when I seek them out. And believe me, I will get my "yay" or "nay" answer. Even if I need to contact my wife's Commander in Chief directly.

I am prepared to be told if I smoke pot I could hurt my wife's career. I know in the military community marijuana is not accepted. So I will do one of 3 things that is accepted in the military community if I feel I must stop:

1) Go to military events and drink in excess at the "grog bowl"
2) Hang out at the barracks and get drunk there

The only problem with those 2 options is I don't drink. Since approximately October 24, 2012 I have had less than 20 ounces of alcohol.

Option #3?

I will enter rehab and when I get out get back on a waiting list to see a psych Dr to get prescribed a cornucopia of pills hoping we can find something that mimics the effects of marijuana so I can continue to thrive and not just survive. There are two challenges with this option however. The first is finding a good combination of side effects that won't limit me too much. The other problem is I fear I may run in to Bob Saget at rehab.

Are you confused why I would mention the All American Dad of the 80's and 90's when talking about rehab? Then watch this clip. Unless you are a fast reader and Bob Marley is still playing. Always listen to Marley when he is on. **WARNING BAD LANGUAGE**

Now I am pretty sure there are a few of you wondering if that greenhouse I built is for growing weed. It's not. Not in any way. I am not now nor have I ever tried cultivating marijuana. OK... there was this one time when I was like 18 or 19 when I planted some seeds in my moms dead plants and she got all excited that something was growing in there. I got rid of them before she knew what they were. But other than that, never. It's not that I don't want to, but I don't know the laws well enough to venture down that road. Especially when the DoD has not been clear on their stance. So if there are any vendors looking for some help marketing their product as we prepare for the legal sales for recreational use here in Washington, lemme know. I am not one who can be "bought off" but I can be "smoked out". **How about at the very least a military discount?**

Am I going to become some giant advocate for marijuana? No. Weed isn't what gets my blood flowing. It's not my passion. But I would advocate for it on a smaller scale. I would make my voice heard.

Do I want my kids smoking pot? NO! I do not want them drinking alcohol either. If they do either while living under my roof without my permission, there will be problems for them.

Do I want to be able to freely continue to smoke pot? Absolutely. But like most things in my life it's not that simple. Even if my wife gives me the OK. And even if we get the OK from the DoD for me to smoke pot, we, by we I mean me, will always worry about the black cloud that will follow us in this military life. My wife could be considered guilty by association. I am sure once this blog entry goes live she can expect a few more random pee tests in her near future. Luckily for us my wife is pretty square and there isn't any worry there. She likes a glass of wine here and there and I love getting stoned. Outside of that, we are pretty boring people and in bed by 8pm 7 days a week. Well, as boring as it can be when you live with someone like me and live the life we live.

At this time I can't really say what will happen next besides that right now I am going to catch a buzz and climb in bed with my beautiful bride and get a good night sleep. My conscious is now clear. My secret is out.

This blog entry required not one. Not two. But THREE songs in addition to that epic Bob Saget clip.

**How is that for a range of video clips in one blog entry?**

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


For the last couple weeks I have been using #Called2Serve on Twitter and Facebook. But before I explain why, push play and have a listen because this is a double dipper blog entry.

Make ABSOLUTELY no mistake about it, my family chose to answer the call to serve purely based on financial reasons and the benefits/compensation package we were offered.

I was 30 with a body that was failing me and the only thing I was qualified to do was manual labor. And without an able body, there isn't much use for an overweight laborer on a job site.

My wife was 29 with not one, but TWO, bachelor degrees. In our community during that time, #BackWhereIComeFrom , she could have had 2 bachelor degrees and a Master's and still have been hard pressed to find employment.

Together, we were barely getting by. With my body only getting worse as I tried pushing through whatever injury I had/have and her working at a local retail store, we barely made "end's meat". It wasn't until we began living this life we could afford "center cut meat" on occasion. Thankfully we did receive Medicaid and qualified for food stamps back then, so that helped. But living on Welfare is no way to live so we had to find our way out. That's when the idea to serve came up. **Please note as a civilian my wife was overqualified and unhappy with her job**

While our motivation to go to the recruiter's office was based on the compensation offered, it is not the reason we chose to do this life. We chose to serve because we felt it was the best thing we could do for our family and our country for both of our futures. And what better way to thank the government for the public assistance we had been receiving than to truly give back with public service?

We initially had no desire for my wife to make a career out of this life. Not only were we realists who believed that serving in the military is only a career for the select chosen few, but we wouldn't need to serve if our plan worked out the way we had it set up with the recruiter. We had a 7-10 year plan that would have left us in our early 40's with a decent nest-egg. But alas, we learned quickly things aren't always what they appear (or are told) when it comes to the military. We learned right away that things change quickly. We learned to embrace the term "for the needs of the Army".

We didn't cry too desperately when my wife was told she could no longer become an Officer like we planned. In fact, like a good soldier, she said "whatever, we will deal with it". Me? Every once in awhile I have a hissy fit that what I thought was a promise broken was actually in the best interest of people other than us and there was a bigger picture. There was more than just our own window to look out of. So I did what the Army has taught my family, we adapted and overcame. We budget accordingly and as someone once told me to do, we "Live like a Sergeant".

We do still consider the possibility that this will be a career for her, but again we are realists, we realize the Army may not have much use for a 35+ year old Combat Medic even though up until this point she was "fast tracking". We understand there just may not be enough room for her anymore. And honestly, it scares the crap out of me because I know the grass is way greener here on the Army side(pssst..... don't tell anyone, but sometimes we secretly wish we were an Air Force family). There will come a time when we either say "we don't want to do this anymore" or the Army will say "we don't need you anymore". Until one of those times comes up, we are content with where we are. And we will do everything we can to stay here. And I personally will do everything I can to make sure my family can still enjoy the highest quality of life as possible and I will advocate for us on our own behalf, but I will NOT put some perks and extra benefits for my family above the needs of those my family chose to serve. Especially not the needs of those who also served and should sit atop our concern list when it comes to military families who need our support with these trying times.

Right now as I see it there are two sides to this #BudgetBattle. There is one side more or less saying "this is OUR pie. You gave it to us. And we will not give ANY back." On the either side all reports/indications from our elected and appointed leaders seems to imply they are saying "No! You can't have everything. You can't have ANYTHING!". I am impatiently awaiting someone to make a meme based off the "Soup Nazi" episode on Seinfeld. "No! NO BENEFITS FOR YOU!"

Let me make something else clear, I don't necessarily believe our leaders are saying we can have "nothing". I believe they are saying this DoD budget is going down and we better get ready for it. And if that is their message to my family, I wish they would say it explicitly clear so all of those with agenda's will stop using their words and painting this God awful picture of them. Some reports/comments about the Joint Chiefs of Staff are making them out to be horrible men who don't care about their troops. So correct me if I am wrong, did I miss the TMZ report that had the Joint Chiefs hosting a kegger? Is General "O" out there tearing up the streets in a Ferrari with the top down?

It almost makes me wonder if the people making horrible comments about these men haven't heard that The Duffle Blog is satire.

Do not doubt for a minute that I am still keeping the JCS on "the hook". I have a "bone to pick" with them about our failing mental health care and my personal/eyewitness experiences. And I will "pick that bone", but not before the truth about DeCA comes out. Not before our advocates give up on the "we want it all" attitude. And definitely not before my Congressman says "The commissary, it's not always worth the trip, but it means something to us." He IS one of US, so he can say that. **He doesn't really have to say that, but it would be cool if he did.**

Being caught in the middle of this conversation is not a fun place to be by any stretch of the imagination. I sort of feel like the civilian I once talked to who said something to the effect of "You know, not for nothing, but if us regular people complain at all about the DoD budget, we are labeled anti-American and like we don't support the troops."

The dude was right.

Thankfully I haven't had to many people say much about me as I take my charge across social media. About the worst anyone has said so far is that I am an A-hole. But like I have said, "I don't claim to be an advocate. I am only an advocate if I am right. Otherwise I am an A-hole."

I have said I was right about the DeCA numbers and I believe I am. Dollar for dollar, the purchasing power of a service member is better at Walmart than at the commissary. I would welcome someone to prove me wrong, but something tells me proving me wrong is just a little harder than saying I am right. However I would like to think that silently I am being told that I am in fact right. The numbers associated with the commissary have quickly changed in their use by advocates across the board since the day I started beating my drum. Heck, SM Barret went from saying "Don't mess with our commissary!" to "Our families never had it so good!" in just a few weeks span. I can't help but to wonder, maybe I got to him with what I said about the commissary?

And if all that wasn't good enough, I noticed a change in how DeCA was pushing out their information on their facebook page and twitter. They went from boldly proclaiming what it was worth to shop there to using social media to ask us what we like about the commissary. I dunno, kinda sounds like they may be trying to change their slogan to "Your Commissary, it means as much to you as you do to us" or "Your Commissary, it's like your hometown-America grocery store located all over the world" or my personal favorite "Your Commissary, it's not always worth the trip, but it means something to us. All of us."

This whole DoD budget debacle has reaffirmed to me why my family decided to take this journey. In some ways where I find myself is the culmination of all of the events that led to this point. We know what America looks like from both sides of the installation gate. And while we don't know the life of Gold Star Families or Wounded Warrior families, we are willing to do with less if it means they may be taken care of better or equal to how they live now. We don't know what it is like to be a retiree or a veteran family who is struggling with life after war and the process to get quality and affordable medical, but we are willing to do with a little less if their quality of life improves or stays the same.(With the exception of mental health care for returning vets-we must continue to improve)

A lot of this stuff I have said before. But I will keep saying it and beating my drum until my voice becomes moot(not mute). If the #KeepYourPromise movement has taught me nothing else it is that we all have a voice and we must not be afraid to say what we believe to be true in an effort to advocate for our families. So that's what I am doing, I am advocating that my family believes in a "piecemeal" approach. We do not believe in "This is OUR pie you gave US and we will not give a sliver of it back."

If I wanted to say something to the JCS, this is what I would say to them: "Sirs, I don't mind sharing my pie with you. But I must warn you, I am a fat-kid both on the surface and in my heart, so if you are coming for my pie and you have a whole bunch of pie sitting over there on the shelf, you ain't getting none. But maybe you don't see that pie, let me point it out for you. Then if you still need more after giving out correct portions of your pie, I will give you some of mine that is excess and only being wasted anyway. But until then, BACK OFF MY PIE! I will also give you the store I bought it from if you would like to give that away. Good luck with that though, the place means a lot to a lot of folks."

If I wanted to say something to the Keep Your Promise Alliance, this is what I would say to them: "Yo, for real, the partisan politics needs to stop. Stop stooping to the levels you speak out against. Start with those DeCA numbers. Quit yapping about "purchasing power" and tell our leaders what these things mean to our families. Make this about the people who serve, because most of us really do serve because it is who we are. Use that to our advantage. Just quit with the BS politics. Quit the "my pie, you gave it to me so I am keeping it all" mentality. Or else I may have to make a meme using Diketmbe Mutumbo wagging his finger and saying 'NO NO NO! Not in my house!' I don't want to give up most of the same things you don't want to give up, but we missed our boat by not telling them sooner what they could take from us and only always asking for more. So we are where we are and have to find a way to play nice together. Even if that means compromising. Let us just make sure we do not compromise those who gave more."

My family was #Called2Serve, not to be served. But we also aren't dummies. We will stop serving if we can't enjoy something similar to the quality of life we enjoy now. However I think we can tighten our belts a little and still live comfortable.