Episode 304 Gracie Burgess Empowering Military Children Transcript

This transcript is from episode 304 with guest Gracie Burgess.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio, and today my guest is Gracie Burgess. Gracie is a military child whose father was injured in Afghanistan when she was just nine years old and. She essentially had to become a caregiver to him after this, which for a young child is not an easy thing to ask.

Uh, so we’re gonna be talking about her journey and how, uh, her father’s injury affected her, and, uh, what she’s doing now and how that injury. And that experience, um, you know, affected the, the work that she’s, she’s putting into, uh, now, uh, [00:01:00] through her podcast, which we’ll talk about in a little bit and, uh, and some, some other work that she’s doing.

So, welcome to show, Gracie. I’m glad to have you here.

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for, for having me here. I’m super excited to be here.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. And, um, for the listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with you and your background, uh, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and, and maybe kind of how you got to where you are today?

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, absolutely. So like a little snapshot of where I am now. Um, I am a recent graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor’s of science in health Science with a minor in marketing. Um, and then I’m currently a graduate student at the University of Alabama, uh, real tide. So earning a dual master’s degree in marketing with a concentration in digital and social media and journalism and media studies.

Uh, And, you know, my background, my upbringing, everything, um, which I’ll, I’m sure we’ll talk about more. Um, you know, it has guided me [00:02:00] through so much of where I am and what I’m doing and how I wanna help military families and military kids, uh, especially, you know, throughout their lifestyle and what they’re going through.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And there’s so much these days that, uh, is focused on the military community as, as a whole, uh, in. I, I’ve put the military community, uh, including, uh, the service members, um, whether they’re active duty reserves, national Guard, wherever they fit into, uh, the, the whole service member category, uh, their, their spouses, their children, the whole family, um, veterans, all I, I lump them all into one big category that I call military community.

Um, and very often, uh, the, the service members, the veterans, they get. The bulk of the support and deservedly so I, I believe is, you know, they, they put their, their necks on the line. They, they’re, they’re out there, um, [00:03:00] doing the dangerous work. Um, but the families very often, um, don’t get the, the support that they may need.

And to me, that that’s kind of a, a miss because. Uh, I know as a, as a husband, as a father, um, if my family’s not being taken care of, I know that’s on me to take care of them. And, um, you know, that would mean if I’m serving, I’m taking my attention away from my job in the military. And so the work that you’re doing now, I think, uh, to kind of support the military families, military children, I think is super important because it helps the service members keep their, their focus and attention on.

Uh, the job that they should be doing, uh, to defend the country and, and it helps to, uh, kind of pick up a little bit of the slack where maybe they can’t do whatever they need to do when they’re halfway across the world. Right.

Gracie Burgess: Right. Yeah. All of, you know, and it’s so, so deserved and you know, I don’t wanna take away from that, but the service members have their job.

They have, you know, they sign up for it, right? So sure. [00:04:00] They do their job and then the spouses and kids kind of get left behind a little bit. Uh, I would say the spouses are starting to get their recognition they deserve. Um, it is still going to be a long process, I’m sure, but they’re starting to get their recognition and kids are just.

We’re hanging on for the ride. Um, whether, you know, my dad’s retired now, but you know, it’s still like we’re hanging on for the ride. So by giving a space for spouses and kids to be recognized, and in my case, especially kids, it’s huge and its so necessary. And they deserve the recognition too.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely.

So, I wanna cut to a quick commercial break, but when we get back, I wanted to talk a little bit more about, uh, what happened to your father when he was deployed to Afghanistan and, and was injured, and how you navigated this new way of life, uh, after, uh, this injury. So stay tuned. So Gracie, uh, I wanna get a little bit into the background of what happened to your [00:05:00] father and the, uh, how that affected you here at home.

You know, kind of from your point of view. Um, you, you were, you were home, um, and your family got notified somehow of this injury that took place. What was that like for you as a, a nine year old child who, um, you know, was. Just going about your, your day and then you get this information. What was that

Gracie Burgess: like?

Yeah, so it was Sunday, November 20th, 2011. Um, My mom, my sister and I all went to Sam’s Club, um, to get stuff for a care package, actually to mail overseas. Um, a few days prior, we had just made a bunch of Christmas cookies, um, with a friend who’s, uh, at the time fiancee was also deployed. Um, and. You know, we were getting Christmas stuff ready for them, you know, Christmas cookies, little, little gifts I’m sure we were [00:06:00] throwing in there.

Um, but if you wanted a package to get, From Cleveland, Ohio to Afghanistan. By Christmas you had to start like a month in advance. Um, there’s some planning. Yep. Yeah, so we were getting anything that could be made with water really. Um, you know, mac and cheese. The easy cups, mac and cheese, um, ramen noodles, pasta, things like that to, to send over, kind of give a little taste of home in a sense.

Um, and also we were getting candy to send over. Uh, my dad was psychological operations, so he, they would always give it to the Afghan kids, um, and they would love it. So we were getting that. And then we were in the car ride back. And from my mom’s perspective, we did have to stop and get gas and. From nine year old me sitting in the back seat, I didn’t notice anything.

Um, but she had a panic attack just sitting there at the stop sign, uh, waiting and [00:07:00] had a, had a gut feeling and she had to talk herself down out of it. Um, but we get home, we’re unloading the groceries out of the car. And I can tell you exactly where I was standing in the house, where my mom was standing, everything, uh, when she answered the phone, dropped to her knees, screaming, crying, sobbing, uh, and as a nine year old, I have no clue what’s going on.

Um, but one of the things she keeps like echoing is, please tell me my husband’s alive. Please tell me my husband’s alive. Like you’ve told me. He is an amputee. You’ve told me something’s up with his leg, but you haven’t really told me he’s alive. Um, and so that’s when she handed me her cell phone and said, go call, uh, her best friend’s Lena, and tell her that her and Joey need to get to the house right away.

Um, And that something happened to Daddy and at nine years [00:08:00] old, I mean, really what nine year olds know what the word amputation means? Um, I should have known, I always say it’s my brain protecting me because we, the last movie we saw as a family was Dolphin Tail. Uh, so it was. It was a crazy situation, but I didn’t know what that that meant.

Uh, so I just, I called, I said, you need to get a over here right away. Something happened to daddy. Uh, I don’t know what’s going on more than his legs and amputee. Um, so my sister and I were kind of rushed out of the house. Uh, my mom. Had made plans prior that she did not want me and my sister to be around if something like this were to unfold.

Sure. And so we kind of threw our lives into laundry baskets and we’re out of the house within like 10, 15 minutes. So we could still continue, uh, with normal looks like of going to school, coming home and doing homework and, you know, [00:09:00] having, you know, kind of a chill night, uh, without. The chaos of, you know, that, that we didn’t even know could happen of my dad’s injury.

Scott DeLuzio: Right, right. And so this panic attack that you mentioned that your mother had at the stop sign, was this kind of like a, uh, I don’t, I don’t know if premonition is the right kind of word, but was this kind of like a gut feel, like something’s wrong, I just don’t know what kind of thing or she hadn’t found out yet at this point?


Gracie Burgess: No. So the funny thing is, um, Well, we say funny now, but not funny. Um, sure kinda deal. Uh, she knew my dad was out on a mission. My dad would say, Hey, you’re not gonna hear from me for two weeks. And this was all over email because back to the 2011 days, Skype was just becoming a thing and was not right, readily available.

Um, so she knew he was out on a mission and she wasn’t gonna hear from him for a while. Um, but looking, she looked down at the clock. Um, [00:10:00] That was in the van and it said 4 26. Well, the original phone call coming and telling us, calling to tell us what happened was at 4 26. So is that like there’s a phone call coming, like it was just, it was, it’s crazy how the times happened.

Right. And how everything kind of really unfolded. Um, but yeah, so it was like 4 26. She had that. That feeling that she, she talked herself out of, she was like, he’s okay. He’s on a mission like he’ll, he’s coming back soon. I’ll hear from him, but at the same time, like, she didn’t know what was happening, you know?

Mm-hmm. Half an hour away at home.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. That, that’s such, such a bizarre thing. And this is not the first time that I’ve heard of people having this type of experience where they, they get that gut feel and they know something’s wrong. They don’t know exactly what. It went wrong, but they know something’s wrong.

Um, and I’ve heard that from people who’ve lost loved ones. I’ve [00:11:00] heard that from people who’ve, uh, you know, had injuries and, and things like that. Um, it, they just kind of know if something is happening or going to happen. Um, just a matter of, uh, what was the, the thing that happened and how severe is it?

Um, so Right, you said you were. Living in, in Ohio. Um, you’re, so now let’s fast forward a little bit. Your, your father comes home, uh, from, uh, from overseas. Um, where’s he brought to and did you guys pack up and move? Did you guys, how did you guys, uh, kind of coordinate all of that?

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, so we, uh, You know, like I said, my sister and I were, were removed from the situation.

Um, it was not until, uh, the 24th I believe it was, which was Thanksgiving. It all happened during that time period, um, that we didn’t, we found out what [00:12:00] happened to, to dad. Um, and so my mom sat us, me and my sister down. Uh, we were thankfully able to come. Back to the house for Thanksgiving and spend it with, with the family that we had and the military community just, you know, ushered in to, to take care of us.

Um, but she sat us down and that’s when, uh, she was like, Uh, the last movie we saw as a family was Dolphin Tail. And so that’s when she was like, you know how Winter lost her tail? Well, daddy lost his leg. Um, and so that happened. And then that was on a Thursday. On Sunday, she flew down to San Antonio, Texas, which is where my dad flew.

Um, he flew from Afghanistan, went to an Afghanistan hospital, and then went to Lawrenceville, Germany. And he was there for a couple days before they could fully get him stabilized and put on a plane to come stateside. Um, and so they, they took him to San [00:13:00] Antonio, Texas to Burke, army Medical Center, um, which is now San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Um, but they, they took him there and then it was a month before me and my sister flew down there. My mom did not know what she was walking into. Um, the military doesn’t necessarily. Fly kids out to these situations either. Um, but they, they do fly the spouses. So she flew down to Texas about a month later.

Um, my sister and I flew down right before Christmas just so we could all be together as a family. Um, we didn’t know what we were walking into. We didn’t know whether we were, I seriously remember sitting in our friend’s living room going. Are we moving to Texas or are we coming back home like, right, what’s going on?

Um, and we didn’t really have a direct answer on that, but we flew down to Texas and we ended up moving there. But since we were a reserve [00:14:00] family, uh, it, it’s so different as to our orders. Were always cut one day short to, to moving, and so, It was just this constant flow of, well, when are we, when are we getting kicked out of here?

More or less? Um, right.

Scott DeLuzio: And, and that, that has to be such a, a confusing time for such a young child, a nine, nine year old child. Yeah. You, you said your, your sister was younger, uh, than you. So, I mean, even more so, uh, confusing, but even still close enough in age that the whole time has gotta be confusing and for.

You being in, uh, a reservist family, um, you know, the, the typical reservist is not living near. An army base or you know, other military installation where your, your classmates in school are the people who understand deployments and no, uh, these types of things. And so to me, I, I have to imagine, uh, at that time it’s, it’s very confusing.

Um, not [00:15:00] only are you the only one in your school, uh, know maybe your sister as well, but you know, you’re probably one of the o the few who has a parent who, uh, has ever deployed, um, Most parents of these, these kids that you were classmates with, they’re going to work, they’re working their nine to five or whatever job it is that they’re working and, um, you know, they, uh, they come home.

They don’t have to worry about them losing a leg or an arm or a, you know, right. Being killed in action or anything along those lines. That’s just not a thing that is even on the radar of any of these kids. And probably wasn’t even on your radar at that point, either up until it happened. Uh, I would imagine.

Um, but then you gotta pick up. Pack up everything that you have and, and move down to Texas while your dad is, uh, getting treatment. Um, right, which now all of your friends, all of your, you know, family, anyone else who was, was up in Ohio, uh, they’re not necessarily there. And so, What do you, where do you do?

You know, it’s gotta be a very lonely, isolated kind of feeling at that point. But yeah, [00:16:00] also with maybe you’re, maybe on the flip side, maybe you’re also getting people who do understand your situation, so maybe it’s, maybe it’s a little different. What was your experience with that? Yeah,

Gracie Burgess: so in Ohio, you know, Nobody understood why I would come to class crying, because, you know, my dad was gone.

They’re like, sure, oh, he’ll be home in a couple hours. Like, no, he’ll be home in a couple hundred days. Yeah. Um, and so that was, that was really hard. And then coming in and saying, oh, well, Sorry, I’m moving at the drop of a dime. Like you’re never gonna, and I haven’t seen any of those kids since. Um, and so it’s definitely a hard thing for, for them to understand, but also for me to understand and it, that loneliness factor is huge.

It, yeah. And so, But everyone in Texas understood. And that, that that was the beauty in it, for sure. Yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: for sure. Well, I want to take a second here to take another quick commercial break, but when we get back, I wanna talk a little bit more about your podcasts that we, we mentioned a little bit [00:17:00] earlier and, uh, some of the things that you’re doing to help the military community, specifically the military children.

And military families. So stay tuned. So Grace, you were talking about earlier, the struggles that you were having, um, with. Everything that happened with your father being a reservist family with people who you went to school with, your friends in the neighborhood and stuff that didn’t necessarily understand what was going on with you and your family, cuz they didn’t experience that themselves.

But then you moved down to Texas where your father was getting, uh, treatment and you were in a community of people who did understand, uh, a little bit better what was going on with you and your family. Um, and so, Fast forward. Now, a, a few years later, you started your podcast, um, which I believe we mentioned a little bit earlier.

It’s called, uh, grace of a Military Child and Life. Um, tell us about the podcast. Tell us what inspired you to start it and, uh, what kind of things do you share, uh, [00:18:00] through this, this podcast?

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, so I started it in April, 2021. The very first episode launched. Um, You know, during the month of the military child, cuz what a better time, time to start that.

Um, my mom was the one who gave me the idea for it. She was like, you have been through so much as a military kid yourself. They’re so much that other military kids go through. Um, whether they experienced injuries like I did, um, you know, worse killed in action, or whether it’s literally just the. I don’t wanna say traditional, but traditional active duty lifestyle of moving every couple years and going through those motions.

But I started this podcast to share, uh, what military kids go through, what struggles we face, what. What joys that we, that we get from [00:19:00] this lifestyle? So the good, the bad, everything in between, um, really what the guests are willing to share and, uh, what highlights, uh, that they’ve experienced in their life.

And then, I spent almost all of 2022 dating a, a service member. And so I saw from the aspect of the spouses what, what challenges they faced, what they were going through. And so, you know, I, that’s when I kind of expanded it to grace of a military child and life and added that part on there. To, to share the stories of spouses, um, and what they go through, what they face, the challenges.

Um, but, you know, still, still keeping it geared toward military kids and military families as a whole. Cuz cuz that’s what’s truly important to me.

Scott DeLuzio: Sure. And I think this is a great service that you’re doing to this community because like you said, there’s, there’s good, there’s bad, there’s, there’s everything [00:20:00] between, and, um, there’s.

Terrible situations like the situation that your family endured. Um, right. There’s even, you know, other, the other side of those terrible situations are, you know, people who lose a loved one who, who doesn’t make it back home. Um, and these children have to live with that, and that’s, that’s part of their, their life.

They, uh, like you said, They move every couple years. Um, there’s good and bad to that. You may love where you live. Yeah. And then you, you have to move to a different place and you may hate that next place and so that’s bad. But you may live in a place that you’re not all that fond of and you get the opportunity to escape and go move to someplace else.

And you may love that next. Exactly right. So, so there’s, there’s good and bad, uh, mixed into that. Um, I think in general a good thing is you, you get to travel and see different parts of the country, different parts of the world, but maybe you never would’ve. Had the opportunity to. So getting to hear those types of stories, just stuff that people don’t think about very [00:21:00] often is like, what happens to these kids?

I mean, yes, the military, the service members have to move, uh, all over the place and they have to do as they’re told, but so do the kids, so do the spouses. So do you know all of that comes into it as well. Right. Um, so what are some of the, the common themes or the experiences that you’ve, uh, You’ve heard about or talked about while, while talking to these military children and families on, on your show.

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, so I’ve been fortunate to have, uh, a good number of military kids on my podcast who, who share similar journey to mine. Um, one of the scholarships I received is four children of service members who were either catastrophically, wounded or killed in action. And that’s through no greater sacrifice. Um, and so, They’ve connected me with a ton of military kids who, who have parents who are similar to mine.

And so, um, I’ve had a lot of them on. And [00:22:00] so being able to, to relate to them is, is good for me, but it’s also good for them to hear that you’re not alone. You know, we’re, we’re in this really struggling situation, but you’re not alone. Right. Um, And so like I, like I said, we were a reserve family, so we did not move often.

We moved twice. Um, and that was it. So I didn’t get to experience that, but I’ve heard. That is like, one of the most common themes that I, I hear on the podcast is just the struggles of moving and making friends and going to new schools. And I’ve heard from so many people, like you just said, you might be in one situation, at one post, at one duty station that you’re like, I’m so done with, I’m so over this.

But then you get to move to some glorious place like, uh, Well, some people view it as glorious, some don’t. I don’t know. Um, but Okinawa, where you get to, to live in a different country and experience so many different [00:23:00] things. And my ex was stationed there when I was, when I got together with him. And so just hearing those stories and seeing those pictures that he would send me, it’s incredible.

Right? So, You know, you get all of these sides to it of if you don’t like where you’re at now, there’s always somewhere, uh, you know, that you’re moving forward. And I think that’s just a good life, uh, outlook in general. If you don’t like where you’re at now, just keep going. It’s gonna get better. It’s gonna change.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. That is a, that is a good kind of metaphor for life in general. Yeah. Just keep pushing forward. Things change. Yeah. And just because where you’re at right now might suck. You might hate your job, you might hate your, you know, the school that you’re going to, you might hate this or whatever, but keep going.

Things get better. Yes. Um, things will always continue to change. Um, and so it, that’s a, a great way to look at these things. Um, and I, I know for, for me, doing this podcast has been almost therapeutic. Being able to talk to different people through, I say that all the time. [00:24:00] Experience that same type of thing.

Uh, by, by being able to talk to people who have shared similar experiences or even, even they may have had their own unique experiences. I mean, everyone has their own unique experiences, but being able to share those experiences, um, and talking to other people in a way that, to me it’s, it’s therapeutic. I don’t know, like what has your experience been like that.

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, so my dad retired in 2014. There was no way, you know, being an amputee, having the other injuries and struggles that he goes through, there was no way, uh, that he could safely continue his military service. And so he, he medically retired and we moved to Cape Coral, Florida, which is Southwest Florida.

Um, It’s like if you make an L between Tampa and Miami, we’re right there. Or if you’re not familiar with that, still where were the main hurricane hit last year. So couple different landmarks for you there. Um, but yeah, so we moved to. [00:25:00] No military community around. And so it was, so you go back to that, it’s lonely, it’s isolating, it’s hard, it’s a struggle.

Um, the closest military installation is two and a half hours away. And so after, uh, you know, being in Ohio it’s four hours away. Being in Texas, we lived there and we were constantly surrounded by that. But then moving here, it’s hard to go from that. Being surrounded by the military life to having no military life.

And I hear that from so many people too. That’s another common theme. Sure. Um, but I love just coming back and being able to, you know, Coming back into that military life and connecting with these people and kids, spouses, service members, veterans, everyone. It’s such a special life. It’s that family, uh, that, that community, that family of, you know, we, we understand what you’re going through.

I can talk to people on the podcast literally for hours [00:26:00] because I understand. I get it. They get me, they understand me where all my friends here are like, Sorry, like, we don’t get it. Yep. It’s, uh, we feel bad for you because of what you’ve been through. And I’m like, don’t feel bad for me. Like this is just the life that, that I got to live.

These were the cards I was dealt. There was no, uh, a choice around this. And so I’m just making the best out of it. So I, therapeutic is definitely the best word to describe podcasting.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And when I talk to, Other veterans or other people who ha are sharing their experiences. Um, sometimes the first time I’m actually talking to these people is when.

We the five, 10 minutes before I hit record on Oh yeah. This episode, it, that’s the first time that I talked to them. But by the end of the episode, by the time we’re done recording, it feels like we’ve known each other for years just because of [00:27:00] those common experiences that we’ve had. Whether it’s a deployment or the loss of, you know, a friend or a loved one or, or whatever those things are.

We, we, common language a common. Connection, um, you know, through, through that. And so like I get that out of doing this podcast. I’m over 300 episodes now on this podcast. And so I, I feel fairly confident being able to say like, yes, this is what I’m getting out of, out of this show. Um, but yeah, but you know, with, with your show, um, you know, I have to imagine it’s just a very similar situation where those, those other military kids, they had their own experiences, but I.

It’s similar enough that you’re able to feel that kind of common connection and that bond between the two of you. And that to me, I think that’s a, a great way to, um, spread that message out there because when you have a story to share, um, somebody, everybody’s experiences are different. And when that story gets shared, it may just [00:28:00] help that person who’s struggling to wrap their head around, how do I deal with the fact that my dad just lost his leg?

Or, um, that maybe. Dad didn’t come home, or mom, something happened to mom, or, you know, whatever the case may be. Um, but sharing those stories helps those people who are struggling and that’s, I mean, quite frankly, why this show exists, um, is to help those people. Um, and I gotta imagine your show is doing something very similar in, in the military, uh, family area.

Gracie Burgess: Absolutely, because like the main thing, like I want people to get out of it is you’re not alone. No matter what kind of situation you’re going through. And no matter how much it may suck, like you are not alone. There are other people going through exactly what you’re going through. Um, you know, there are.

We’re not in an act of conflict right now, but you know, one day we’re probably going to be again. And so those kids are gonna come through those same things that I went through. And so I can be like, Hey, [00:29:00] like I’ve been through it. I might be, you know, a decade or two older than you, but I know what you’re going through.

I know what sure what it’s like. So that is definitely like the thing of just helping and. You know, encouraging the next generation of military kids.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. That’s great. Well, we’re gonna take another quick commercial break here. Uh, when we get back, we’re gonna talk about some, maybe some advice, uh, for military children and, um, you know, where your advocacy work and, and the stuff that you’re doing now will evolve to in the future.

So stay tuned. So Gracie, so far the conversation has been, um, Incredible in, in my, from my point of view, um, just how transparent and open you’ve been with some of the struggles that you’ve had and some of the challenges that, uh, military children in general have. Um, What advice do you have through the conversations that you’ve had with other military children, your own experiences?

Um, what advice do you have [00:30:00] for those military children who are out there, uh, who might be facing something similar, uh, to what you experienced or maybe feeling isolated like in the case of a Reserve or National Guard family where they don’t have anybody else, none of their friends understand. What they’re going through.

Um, or or things along those lines. You know what I’m trying to say there? Like what, what kind advice?

Gracie Burgess: Yeah. And so, you know, it’s something that I feel is so important to share is just, you know, understanding what other people are going through. You know, and I, the last thing I always ask on my podcasts, and you know, people hate it because I don’t give much warning, but I just say, what advice would you give?

To another military child or to another military spouse or military family member. And so a lot of people do say that you’re not alone, that there are other people going through exactly what you’re going through. And that’s exactly, if I had to look at my younger [00:31:00] self or if I had to look at another military kid, You know, going through the, the struggles that they’re going through, I would say that you’re not alone.

You know, no matter what you’re, you’re going through what you’re dealing with, no matter how hard it is, you’re not alone. And you know, going back to what we said earlier, just keep pushing forward. Because if you, if you don’t see that silver lining, no matter how small or how dim it is, like. It’s there, like I promise it’s there and you just have to keep pushing forward.

Find one little thing that that helps you, that motivates you. For me, it’s working and I know people are like, oh, don’t work like crazy. But no, I work because it keeps me motivated. It gives me something to do. Uh, the podcast, like I spend so many hours a week. Working on that because it just, it’s motivating to me, um, you know, cuz I know I’m helping other people and so, You know, finding something that keeps you going.

I tell a lot of people, journaling is [00:32:00] huge. Uh, when I was nine and my dad got hurt, that’s what they told us to do. They were like, journal, get your feelings out on paper. Um, and I say paper cuz a lot of people type now and typing’s great too, but it’s, it’s different when you’re actually writing on paper.

Um, so finding something that outlet for you? For me, it’s, The podcast now. Um, it’s learning, it’s working. And so finding something that that motivates you, that helps you, that gives you a, a space to, to let your feelings out and to vent is so important to have. Cuz if you don’t have that, then. What do you have?

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And, uh, just I wanna go back to that journaling, uh, comment that you made. Yeah. And the difference between like writing with the pen and papers Yes. Versus typing on, you know, a computer or your phone or whatever it is that you, you type on. Yes. Um, The, the writing aspect of it, and this, this is something that blew my mind when I first [00:33:00] experienced it, but when you slow down and, and write down your thoughts and you, you’re writing everything down, your, your brain kind of has to slow down too.

Because right now I can, I can tell you a story about like the way you did earlier in this episode when you told us about what happened from your point of view, uh, what happened to your father, and I guarantee you that there’s. Some pieces of that story that didn’t make it into this interview, in this, this recording, right?

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Cause there’s so much more, so much more that happened and, and your mind might have just skipped over it because it’s like, okay, well I’m going to that next thing. Right? But when you write things, you’re writing and you’re writing about that. Whatever that thing is that you’re writing about, and your mind has to slow down because you can’t write as fast as you talk.

And so you, your mind slows down and then you are able to think about those other things that maybe you didn’t say while you’re talking. Um, and Right, you slow down and you start to process those things a little bit more. So the journaling [00:34:00] aspect of it, um, I think is incredibly powerful. Uh, I don’t, I know I don’t do it enough, but, um, I, I, I’ve experienced it and when, when.

When I experienced it, I was like so blown away at some of the memories even that came back, uh, during, you know, the time period of, you know, whatever it was that I was writing about. Um, to me it just blew my mind that, that those memories were, were up there. I just hadn’t thought about them for so long.

Gracie Burgess: They’re so suppressed.

Scott DeLuzio: They were, they were, they were, they were there. It’s just. You know, I had, I had to slow down and actually think about this in order to get them out. Um, and then, then you can start to process those, those things, they’re there. They’re just not being processed because you’re not slowing down to think about them.

So, so, yeah, I think not not just military children, but anyone who has stuff that they are, are going through, slow down and, and write these things down. Right. Just get, get a notebook, get a right, you know, a $2 notebook from Walmart or whatever. Who cares? So just write it down. Yeah. And. Uh, [00:35:00] throw it away if you want.

If you don’t want to read it afterwards, rip it up, throw it away. Who cares? But slow down and, and write it down if you want to, uh, just get that, that stuff processed in your mind, right? Yeah.

Gracie Burgess: Yeah. And you know, When I was nine and going through all of that with my dad, you know, that’s what they, they handed us and I wish I had those journals still, they, they got lost in the move or something.

I don’t know. Sure. Um, but, you know, I wish I had that to, to be able to look back on and be like, this is how far I’ve come. Um, but then you mentioned like not just military people, like No, like everyone should have. Uh, you know, when I went through my breakup at the end of the year, that’s what I turned to.

Mm-hmm. Is I turned to journaling and writing everything that I needed to, and it helps so much like no matter the situation you’re in, whether it was my dad’s injuries, whether it was breakup, whether it was deciding on, you know, a college to go to or [00:36:00] you know, something, it’s. Being able to actually write your thoughts out on a piece of paper is so, so important.

And even like you were saying, in talking with someone, you skip over a lot of details. In typing something, you skip over a lot of details too. You do. I try to. To write like my story or, um, one day I do wanna write a book. So like, trying to, to get ideas for that. There’s so much that I’m like, oh no, I missed this.

Like, I gotta go back and add this cuz this is important too. Sure. So there’s, there’s something different when you hit pen to paper.

Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. Now you mentioned, I believe earlier, uh, a nonprofit that you are, are, are, uh, Working with here? Uh, well, you’re a nonprofit that Yes. You’re working to help, uh, military families.

Military children. Um, tell us about that nonprofit and, and the type of stuff that you’re doing

Gracie Burgess: now. Yeah, so I am still in the early stages of, for being [00:37:00] that nonprofit, but, um, it is called Military Child Bigs and Littles, and it’s a little branch off the podcast, um, of being able to help military kids who are currently military kids.

So what the, the whole process and the whole thought behind it is bye. Having a big and little program for military kids and designed to fit the needs of military kids, because there’s nothing like that for military kids. There’s no no place to say, Hey, I’m a military kid. You’re a military kid. Like, let’s connect the two of you.

And so. Uh, starting the podcast, the whole like goal was to share these stories and share it to the civilian community, but then also to connect military kids. And I feel like I’ve done done pretty good at the first two, but the, the last one is kind of hanging in the loop there. Um, but this military child bigs and littles is connecting a military child who is between the ages of.

Uh, 18 and 25, you know, [00:38:00] parent in, retired, separated, doesn’t matter, um, but with a child who’s currently on active duty reserve or guard orders. Um, Who is between the ages of 10 and 17, and that’s a little flexible, but you know, who’s currently going through the lifestyle because it, it is lonely. It is isolating, it is hard, but it’s so great at the same point.

And if you have somebody who’s older than you, who is lived the lifestyle, who is, you know, successful and, uh, you know, doing so many incredible things right now, uh, it’s so easy to to look. Look to them and say, Hey, you know, even though this life sucks and there’s so many hard aspects to it, there are so many incredible things.

And, you know, having, having a big brother, big sister, I’m the oldest, so I didn’t have anyone, you know, older than me to, to go to and to talk to and Sure, uh, sometimes you just don’t wanna talk to mom or dad or, or even a big brother, a big sister. And so having [00:39:00] somebody who’s more like a, Friend here to, to guide you, to mentor you and say, Hey, no, you’re not alone.

Like, you’ve, you’ve got this, I’ve got you. Uh, I think, I think that’s just so important to have for, for these kids in this next generation.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I think that could be especially powerful for the military children who are like you, who were a member of a reserve or National Guard family that doesn’t have.

A support network of people that they go to school with, whose parents also deploy and also, you know, go off, uh, you know, for weeks or months at a time for different training, uh, things like that. Yes. Um, that. Those, those kids, they don’t have anyone in their peer group to talk to that understand or could relate to whatever it is that they’re going through.

Um, they’re kind of the outlier where they, they don’t fit into the, the group of the kids who are going to that [00:40:00] school or even in their neighborhood, the just the kids who. Go outside and play, ride their bikes or whatever it is that, that they do. Um, none of those other kids maybe are in that same category unless they happen to also have a, a parent in the military, but doesn’t necessarily, uh, happen that way.

Right. So having an organization like this, that. Allows those kids to connect. Um, you know, there might, might be the next town over or something, but allows those kids to connect and have somebody to talk to, um, you know, to get either, I don’t know how that works really. If they get together and, and do things in person or is it kind of virtual?

They can, you know, chat online. What, what, how does that work?

Gracie Burgess: Yeah. So right now, uh, because of funding is short, but I have a lot of stuff set for, for virtual and being able to connect with these kids virtually, cuz there are, there are some kids who have signed up in our, in Hawaii, like, okay. You know, so it’s just, it’s incredible.

Just the vast majority of the military [00:41:00] community will, will support you in, in, in, uh, initiatives that you have. Even if they’re, they’re small and just starting. Um, but I do, my end goal is to be able to get everyone together and kind of do like a little summer camp, um, kind of retreat thing of, you know, here’s kind of a tool for you to help.

You through this military life. And, uh, I kept saying like, I want this to be a six month program. I want this to be a six month program. And then the more, and the more I thought about it, I was like, no, because we can’t just like, you know, give these kids somebody to talk to for six months and then just leave them be, especially if they’re, they’re 10 years old, like there still can be 10 and have eight years left of this lifestyle.

Um, For the majority. And so, you know, just connecting these kids, so no matter where they are in this world, no matter how far away they are from, you know, their bigs, their littles, [00:42:00] anybody in the military community, they have a group that they can go to and be like, Hey, you know, I’m struggling with this.

Or, Hey, here’s a resource, or, Hey, here’s something that can help you or advice, anything of a sort that’s. They have that background and they have somebody backing them up.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I think that’s a great, uh, program to have, um, for, for those military children, um, who need to have that kind of support. Um, you know, even if they’re living on.

Uh, you know, a military base or you know, near a military base, they may not necessarily have those people, you know, in their neighborhood or in their schools. I know I had a family who lived, uh, we lived not too far from an Air Force base. Um, we had a family that lived here that we were friends with. Um, they went to the, the public school in our, you know, kind of in our neighborhood.

Some military families, but not all of them. They, some of ’em were just, you know, regular civilian families that didn’t have any connection to the military. And so just [00:43:00] because they lived near a military base didn’t necessarily mean that they had, uh, you know, those kind of friends and that kind of connection.

So even being able to connect those people. Within that community is, I think, a, a huge, uh, opportunity as well. So, um, we’re gonna cut to another quick commercial break. Uh, when we get back, we’ll talk more about, um, where they can go to, uh, help support, uh, what you’re doing and, and your podcast and everything like that.

So stay tuned. So Gracie, uh, so far this episode has been, uh, really eye-opening, I think, and for myself and also for probably some of the listeners who. Maybe, maybe their service members themselves maybe didn’t realize, you know, just how significant of an impact military service could have on their, their families, their, their spouses, their children, uh, things along those lines.

Um, I’d like to give you the opportunity now, though, uh, before we wrap up here, um, anything else that you want the listeners to know about your journey or the experiences of military children and where they can go to listen to your [00:44:00] podcast and, and support your nonprofit work, uh, and, and all that kind of stuff.

Gracie Burgess: Yeah, so you can find me on Instagram at Gracewood Military Child and Life. Actually, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook, uh, at Gracewood Military Child and Life. Um, I’m also on YouTube, but I’m not there quite often. Um, podcast episodes do post there as well. Um, but I wanna get more into video. In the future, nowhere soon.

Um, but you can find the podcast on any major podcast streaming platforms. Um, if you want more information on how to be on the podcast, um, uh, how to take part in the nonprofit, the bigs and littles. Um, Feel free to just reach out to me on social media, or you can email me at grace dot of a military dot child gmail.com.

Um, and I’m more than happy to, to reach out and connect with you and even if you just need someone to talk to, because [00:45:00] honestly, like we said, military life is lonely. It’s isolating, but it’s so rewarding. And so I just, I don’t want any kid to go through this lifestyle feeling that they’re alone and feeling that.

That they’re all, that they have, that their families, all that they have, because it’s not the case. There’s so many incredible, wonderful organizations and nonprofits out there that are just willing to support it. And sometimes it just takes a little bit of searching to find it. And it definitely took that for me.

Um, especially being so far from a base for so much of my life. Um, But it’s so important to, to connect yourself into that community. And if some people don’t want it, then that’s okay. I know some people who have had similar situations to me and want nothing to do with the military life because it, it, to them, it feels like it ruined their childhood.

It ruined what they, they had and what they could have had. Um, for me, that’s not the case. I. You know, have taken what I have from this [00:46:00] lifestyle and used it for the good and to benefit others and to benefit myself in the long run. Um, so as much as you put in, it’s how much you’re gonna get out of it. Um, and that goes for being active duty or reserve or National Guard, and.

You know, being in the civilian world of it, because you get both of it in the end for the most part. So it’s, it’s just so important to have that community, and I’m always here for anyone who, who needs that sense of community and needs to feel like they’re, they’re part of it.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, that, that’s great. And I’ll have links to everything that you mentioned, uh, your, your social media and, and everything like that in the show notes.

So for the listeners who are looking to, um, you know, get involved or get in touch with, You to figure out, um, you know, how they can support what you’re doing or even checking out the podcast. Uh, all those links will be there in the show notes. So, uh, definitely check that out, uh, for the, the listeners. [00:47:00] Um, uh, again, uh, Gracie, it’s been, uh, an absolute pleasure chatting with you, uh, hearing your story, uh, a little bit of your background.

Uh, you know, the unfortunate situation with your father, but. Essentially turning lemons into lemonade, uh, is, is kind of yes. The, the theme here, I, I think is, uh, you know, you had had a terrible situation. Um, you know, not only what happened to your father, but also being uprooted from your friends, your family, people in Ohio where you knew and then being.

Moved out to a different, uh, different area, um, but really making the best of it and helping people along the way. And I think at the end of the day, that’s, that’s really the name of the game. So thank you so much again for taking the time to join us.

Gracie Burgess: Absolutely, and thank you so much for having me and for what you’re doing.

Sharing, sharing with the military community what it’s like.

Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. [00:48:00] All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

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