Air Force 'Brat' Shares Helpful Hints
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
PHOENIX, Ariz., Aug. 25, 2000 A self-proclaimed Air Force "brat" shared stories about her mom and dad with military families here Aug. 23, and offered a few helpful hints.
Syndicated columnist Heloise addresses attendees at the DoD Family Readiness Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.. She started her talk Aug. 23 with a slide picture of her father, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Cruse, now 80, and said her mother, the original Heloise, started "Hints from Heloise" while the family was stationed in Hawaii. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Syndicated columnist Heloise, dubbed the "high priestess of household hints" by the "New York Daily News," addressed about 800 military family support specialists at the DoD Family Readiness Conference. Her "Hints from Heloise" appears in 500 newspapers throughout the United States.
She's also the daughter of a retired Air Force pilot, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Cruse. Her late mother, the original Heloise, started the renowned column while the family was stationed in Hawaii.
"In some ways, 'Hints from Heloise' is the ultimate 'good news story' for spouse employment, relocation, personal financial management and transition," said Rebecca Posante in introducing the columnist. Posante, a family policy specialist in DoD's Office of Family Policy, had invited Heloise after reading a column Heloise had written about a visit to Randolph Air Force Base.
"To my great surprise, Heloise said she would be greatly honored," Posante recalled. With a round of welcoming applause, the military audience at the DoD conference warmly embraced one of their own.
"Yesterday, I was speaking to my attorney in New York," Heloise told the group. "He asked, 'Where are you and what are you doing? I said I was in Phoenix and that I was doing a speech for the Department of Defense.
"He said, 'Hmmm. Let me see, Heloise -- Department of Defense. Heloise -- Department of Defense. I don't get it."
"I said, 'Why? I'm going to help them. Did you know that you can use vinegar to keep those missiles really clean?'"
Actually, Heloise knows all about the military. She knows what it's like to move every few years. She knows what it's like when Dad's gone TDY and little girls aren't supposed to cry.
Opening her talk, Heloise showed a photo of her dad in uniform and said he is now 80. "I'm a military brat and proud of it. My father was in the Air Force, so my mother was in the Air Force, our family was in the Air Force," she said.
She recalled that when the family was stationed in Hawaii from 1958 to 1962, people didn't get to call home. Instead, once or twice a year, they'd go to the base radio shack and ham radio operators back home would link up relatives there.
"We actually wrote letters and waited for an answer back," Heloise said. "What a concept!" She lauded today's Internet connections, e-mail, video teleconferencing and other technology that allow real-time communication between families and deployed loved ones.
Heloise said that during coffee klatches with her neighbors, her legendary mother started a support system for military wives. Nurse, mother, friend, counselor -- the creative, aggressive Air Force wife with a colorful and dramatic flare greeted tired families arriving from the continental United States. After the death of her first husband, also a military man, she helped grieving service members' widows.
In the same vein, the late Heloise began writing the helpful hints column that still continues 40 years later.
Heloise credits her military upbringing with giving her the confidence to go anywhere in the world. "Being military, you learned to take care of yourself, but when there was a time you needed something," she said, "you knew the support services were out there."
The columnist offered her support to military families. "If you ever tell me I can help get the word out to our military people, I will do it. I will do everything I can to help you facilitate what you need to get done."