Friday, March 16, 2012

Orientation News

I'm driving between piano lessons and the grocery store and realize that I have a few new e-mails.  I promise I didn't look long, but enough to know that Mark had received an information about orientation for the War College.  We knew that it was going to happen, but didn't know all the details, story of my life!  :)  But this was the e-mail that I was waiting for, details!  And as I'm driving down the road, I can't help myself.  I promise I didn't look long.  Promise.

The big question about the orientation was if I was expected to be there.  And YES!  I am going.  In true Army fashion there was an itinerary attached, complete with hotel information and dress attire for each of the sessions.  There are some things I love about the military, expected dress code and itineraries are two of them.

After re-conning the hotel room and requisitioning Mark's sister to keep the kiddos (totally had to twist her arm...haha), I'm getting excited about this trip.  We head out exactly 1 month from today, April 16th.  Orientation starts on the 17th.  From the itinerary, it looks like we will be able to tour housing on post and off post as well, but we'd really like to be on post for the sake of ease and community.

I do have to mention one more detail that is pretty awesome.  Each new student gets assigned a sponsor, who is a current student, to answer questions and to make everything easy and personable.  Mark got an e-mail from his sponsor yesterday and he is a soldier that Mark served with in Iraq.  What a small world and what a blessing also!

Today Mark is busy filling out needed paperwork for a Top Secret security clearance.  It makes it so much more real as all these details are falling into place.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Our First Peek!

Yesterday, on our travels to Fort Belvior, VA, our route took us right past the War College.  We drove around post to check it all out.  We found the PX and Commissary, Subway, housing and the two buildings that Mark will be having most of his classroom time in.  We found several playgrounds, much to the kids' delight, and discovered that most of the housing is in walking distance of the classrooms.  It was about 40 degrees warmer there than it was at home that day, and there was no snow!!  The campus was smaller than I had anticipated, but this is not a bad thing, it seemed nice that everything was close by.  The range of housing was vast, from smaller apartment type buildings to huge new construction and everything in between.  We checked out the name plates on the homes and it seemed that rank was not something factored into housing.  I took two pictures.  Yeah, not too good for blogging but I didn't want to be that "weird" one walking around taking pictures either.  But here's what I got from the parking lot of the PX....

This is some of the duplex housing in the Heritage Heights
This one was looking towards the academic part of the campus

A New Adventure

Last July we were on vacation in Florida and Mark put in his packet for the Army War College.  There are two ways to do the War College, part time and full time.  Part time means keeping a civilian job, Army Reserve job and working on the War College all at the same time.  Full time means a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for 10 months to focus solely on the War College.  Not many Reservists are chosen and Mark knew his chances for full time were slim.  But why not take a chance and apply?  I remember him hitting the send button and him smiling at me and saying something to the effect of, "Well, it's in God's hands now". 

Fast forward six months.  It was a Thursday night and I had just tucked the girls in bed.  I came down to let Mark know they were all ready for him and he was just hanging up the phone with the strangest look on his face. 

Sarah:  "What's wrong?"

Mark:  "That was COL Morales, he says he thinks my name is on the list for the War College."

"He thinks?"

"Well, he said my name is on there, but I haven't seen it, and he was calling to say "Congratulations"."

"Resident or Correspondence?"


"You're kidding me!"


"We're moving to Pennsylvania?"


Let me set the stage a bit more.  Mark's laptop has been on the fritz.  It takes forever, I mean forever to boot up.  So he's trying so hard to get it moving quicker, but it's not working.  Finally he gets the thing on and working but can't find the right page on his AKO (think Army e-mail) account.  When the correct page is located, it doesn't take long to get to the "B's" and there it is....

Brooks, Mark D.    USAR    Primary

Can I just tell you the shear joy that was radiating from my husband?  Have you ever wanted something so badly but knew that it wouldn't happen, then only by the grace of God you get it and then don't really know what to do?  That was us.  I don't think Mark slept that night.  We poured over the website, trying to glean any bit of information that was available to us.

The State Police have been so supportive of this new adventure as have family and friends.  We are so grateful that the path has been made relatively easy for us so far.  The Army seems to move at a snails pace when it comes to details, but that's just the way it is and it has been the way life has been for us with Army endeavors in the past.  I know that our friends look at us funny when they ask for details about where and when and we really have no idea.  I do know that class begins on August 8th and graduation is in June.  I know that the Army is going to come get our stuff and move us, but I have no idea when.  I know that we will be able to move into our home on post at some point before class starts, but I don't know how long before.  I have made up my mind that as long as the four of us are together, the rest doesn't really matter.  It will all come together, sometime.  But in the mean time, we wait and trust that God has all those details planned out already.