Military Spouse of The Year Jeremy Hilton

This certainly isn’t new news, however, it is worth posting about. Jeremy Hilton was recently named Military Spouse of The Year for 2012. In order to win this honor, a military spouse first has to be submitted by their native service that they represent and win that. So, all of the armed forces branches each have a spouse of the year and then the finalists are reviewed and awarded spouse of the year? (Close Jeremy? lol). At any rate, Jeremy is an incredible advocate for military families with special needs. The work he is doing on behalf of all military families on Capitol Hill admirable, difficult and time-intensive. Advocacy can sometimes become loathe as it is a constant struggle and uphill battle to fight against current policy or attitude that needs changing. Jeremy is the positive and diligent breath of fresh air that inspires me to continue on the path that I walk and to do more for the cause. He certainly deserves this honor and is a invaluable asset to the military special needs community!

Please click on the link above for details and join me to congratulate Jeremy Hilton for being selected as Military Spouse of the Year 2012

In advocacy,

Mike

Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 6 – Integrity

Only two Army values left to address. Let’s tackle one of them right now.

Integrity. It simply means to “do the right thing.” I’d like to tag it with one more phrase. Integrity means doing the right thing…”even when no one is watching.”

Your best test to know if you’re doing the right thing? Would your spouse, mother, pastor, boss or mentor approve of your actions if they caught you right in the middle of something?

I could spend a lot of time on the value of Integrity, but suffice to say that your wife and special needs children need you to be doing the right thing always. If you an integrity failure, it is bound to corrupt your character. People without character have no value in our society, because you can’t build the necessary trust that cements all relationships of every type.

Your actions are influenced by what you put your focus on. If your focus is doing right by your family, then all the things you do will work to build value and support into your family. Focus on other things outside of your marriage and family, and watch out! The heart follows where the focus is.

See I love business and the pursuit of entrepreneurial endeavors. I have multiple business ideas spinning in my head and on paper right now as I type this. Some are large, some are small, but all of them will take an investment of my time. Now, parents of special needs children do not have an abundance of time as it is usually all spent serving the needs of the kids, and helping each other. So, in order for me to pursue any business interests once my active duty service is complete will require me to take time in devotion to them if they are to succeed. But, in my order of priorities, family comes before business interests. So, my heart and mind is focused first on the family, not business. Their needs will come before the needs of business opportunities. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying to turn in your separation packet. That would be foolish. You need to have a healthy financial income stream coming in to support your exceptional family. And the military has fabulous benefits to assist with their medical and educational needs. What I am talking about is any opportunities that will detract from my ability to care for family first and take my heart and mind of my priorities.

My wife and I have been having discussions about what we plan to do when my active duty requirement is up in the next year or so. Suffice to say that we have many, many good opportunities that we could both pursue and care for our family’s needs at the same time. Whatever we finally decide, however, will fit in line with our life’s order of priorities as well as making sure that each others needs and the needs of our boys come first. With enough thought and planning we may be able to even satisfy both in conjunction with whatever professional
endeavors we finally choose to do.

But, we’re discussing integrity (before I get too far off in the woods again). In order to live an effective life, it has to be…let me say that again. It HAS to be lived with integrity. Your wife is depending on you and your children are depending on you to do the right thing always…especially when they’re not watching!

In Advocacy,

Mike

Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 2 – Duty

In this second installment of applying the Army values to the man’s role in the family living with autism, we delve into the value of duty. Webster defines duty as obligatory tasks or functions that arise from one’s position in life; a moral or legal obligation.

I like that definition.

    Obligatory

. Meaning, “you have to”.

    Moral

meaning, because its the “right” thing to do.

But, if you are anything like me, you absolutely HATE being told that you HAVE to do something (it’s a miracle I survive in the Army as I do, lol). I guess I have a little chip on my shoulder – a “thing” I have against authority I suppose.

The first thing that usually comes to mind when told to do something is what? Yep, you got it…”WHO SAY’S SO?” Meaning: By whose authority do you direct me to do _______?

With being a committed spouse and parent with a family living with autism, it will be necessary to remember those key words above: obligatory and moral. There are going to be times when both husband and wife throw up their arms and say, “I QUIT”, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE” usually in a fit of rage, frustration, misery or all of the above. This is completely ok and normal for all couple raising the autistic. And as long as both parents don’t do it at the exact same time and quit the same day, all will be fine!

My sense of duty to my family means that I have a moral obligation to do the right thing by my wife and my kids by being there for them, for the long haul. I am also driven by a higher power and in my heart I am compelled to fulfill my biblical duties as husband and father. Duty means that they come first. Not second. Not third.

First.

My sense of duty reminds me that I don’t have time to join a softball league while my wife is at home caring for our boys special needs. I don’t have time to participate in golf, bowling, darts or whatever league the guys may ask me to join. My duty is to home first. My duty is to be the best husband that I was designed to be, the best Dad I was designed to be. My duty keeps me out of these distractions. In the time I would spend participating in those types of activities is time I could spend relieving my wife so she can get time away and maintain her sanity, read a good book, get a walk in, or take a really long bath without distractions! If I’m following selfish pursuits I am taking time away from my duty. I need to read more, study more, research more, work harder to make an impact in my families life as well as the world around me. My wife is the lead caregiver on our team for our boys. She needs me to be at my best for her and our families sake. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t become a better husband, father or advocate by playing on the company softball team.

Your child’s autism requires you to live to a higher duty than the average person. You have to give more than the guy next door does to his family. That is just the way it is. I have accepted my dutiful charge. It is challenging. Many times I don’t feel like living up to my duty. But, I do it. And I find that when I do, I feel much greater joy in my life because I am living in tune with purpose in my life.

Obligation. The right thing to do.

My challenge for you today is are you fulfilling your duties to your special family? Are you focused on doing what’s right to fulfill the obligations you have as a husband and father? Do you invest as much time into your home duties as you do with your military duty (career). It is easy to spot where a man’s heart is. You just have to look where he spends most of his time.

Don’t get me wrong. I know we all have our duty at work to accomplish. Duty calls! And I’m not saying that both parents don’t need to exercise some alone time, or independent hobby time – within reason. That is the key. In your heart, ado you know that you are doing your best with your duty at home? It’s as easy as starting right now.

Ask your wife tonight, “Honey, is there anything I can do for you right now?”, or perhaps “Babe, I got the kids tonight, why don’t you disappear for a few hours and do your own thing.” Give the kids a bath without even asking or telling her you are going to do it. Cook dinner for once to relieve the burden.

Do the right thing.

I know you can and I know you will.

God bless,

Mike

Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 1 – Loyalty

You have to love the military and its use of acronyms. There is one for everything! As a matter of fact, the seven Army Values can even be easily remembered as an acrostic, where the beginning letter of each value spell out LDRSHIP (or leadership). I have these words posted up on 8X10s near my desk for all to see. As I happen to be deep in tough I was really meditating on those words and couldn’t help but think of my role as a husband, father, Army leader and lead advocate for our boys and the special needs they have. I thought I’d take a moment and try to remember and capture some of the thoughts I had earlier today. I’ll have to take one value at a time as I know that I am going to get on a rant, and I don’t want to write a thesis!

Now, for some of you this may be some pretty direct stuff. Much of this will probably challenge you greatly. No one is harder on me than, well, me! I demand more of myself than anyone else does. I work hard to self-discipline my mind, heart and will to conform to a higher order of operation. So, when you are reading some of these below remember that I am telling them just as much to myself personally to remind myself of my God-given charge in life in these roles above. If at any point, I start to raise your blood pressure and tick you off, then just tell yourself that I’m writing this for the other guy reading this…not you. Savvy? Ok, here goes…

LOYALTY

To be loyal one has to have trust and commitment in the long term. It is the attitude of being sold out. To be wholly committed to the cause without the possibility of a wandering eye toward other people, goals or pleasures. Loyalty continues through the good and the bad and endures the sways of short term thoughts, feelings and activities. The best example I can think of is the family dog. That dog is loyal to his master. He eagerly awaits the return home from work, and he does this everyday! He could have been scolded or punished the night before, but right now that doesn’t matter. He can’t wait for his master’s return. He may get distracted momentarily with playing with the kids or to gnaw on a bone, but as soon as he here’s the garage door! It’s ON! HE’S HOME! And as soon as the master walks in the door, his faithful and loyal dog is there to greet him with happiness. Right, wrong or indifferent, that dog expresses loyalty.
I have absolute loyalty to my family. There is nothing that could lead me astray or pull me away from the loyalty I have for the bond with my wife and role as a father. I am loyal to my wife. I don’t look at other women and certainly never put myself in compromising positions in work or life to threaten this. And when we have disagreements, arguments and fights (yes, there are levels of escalation) I remain loyal to my wife. If we’re having an argument it is a 90% chance I am to blame for it anyway! I am so disappointed how many married men I work with that can’t resist that gaze they give to women. That lustful, improper gaze. Like loyalty, being disciplined in your thought-life is a choice to make daily. See, men were designed with free will. It is a choice to remain loyal to your wife. It is a choice to remain loyal to your autistic kids. Being loyal makes life that much easier. When you are committed with 100% of your heart and mind to the total welfare and care of another person and are sold out in common cause to the responsibilities in life that you share together, then it is a choice you only have to make one time! I don’t want to hear about how it’s OK to look. Sorry, it’s not. Would any man prefer to have their wife staring and perhaps fantasizing about total strangers when he is not around? Worse yet, when he is right there! Just the thought alone makes you question your loyalty. When the decision has been made to be loyal, then it is easy to discipline those thoughts to just say no when tempted. Same goes for the kids. I am loyal to my children. I will never leave them, their mother or put them in a position where I am not their #1 fan and caregiver. Autism makes life extremely difficult – almost maddening at times. Your wife, your kids, deserve your loyalty. A wise friend once told me shortly after I started my family that I “no longer live life for myself.” How true that is. It is so sad to hear about father’s who give up on the autistic family – abandon their wife. Chicken out. Wimp out. Wuss out. What kind of cowardly man believes that he can just walk away from his responsibilities and leave a wife to cope alone and children to not have a strong, loving, caring father to assist with the development. Shame on those cowards. My family can count that I will never be that man. I love and embrace the challenge. They can count on my loyalty as long as there is breathe in my body. I will always be there for my wife and for my boys.

If you have been struggling with loyalty to your wife and/or family, please reach out to me. I’d love to try to help you. Perhaps provide some encouraging words or share with you ways that I strengthen my commitment in life. Military men understand loyalty to country. I encourage you to show that same level of faith and commitment to your special needs family at home. They deserve it!

In Advocacy,

Mike