Guest Blog: Raise Your Own Right Hand
Blog Biography: Erin began her foray into the military world five years ago as an Army spouse when her husband, a prior service Marine, decided to re-enlist. After surviving basic training, technical training, an unaccompanied tour to Korea, and the decision to stay behind to finish her master’s degree in special education as her husband trotted off to North Carolina (and Afghanistan shortly after), she made the decision to begin her own military career as an Air Force Reservist after her husband transitioned from active duty to the Reserves. Erin is a special education math teacher at the high school level when she’s not donning camouflage and serving her country. She enjoys running as a means of keeping her sweet tooth in check and is currently training for a half marathon.
A little over ten years ago, I watched my little brother embark on a journey that would take him to the other side of the country for his college education and the beginning of a military career. While I stayed within a fifty-mile radius of the town I grew up in, my brother was spending summers in Djibouti and on a Mexican tall ship. It was hard to hide my envy as he shared his stories at family gatherings and when everyone asked about his adventures and whereabouts. As a new teacher, I used to look longingly at the recruiters who’d visit my high school, especially on those hard days when the students were trying my patience.
When my husband re-enlisted, I was proud to support him in his career and I immersed myself in the military spouse community. I networked with other spouses, joined the Family Readiness Group, and volunteered as much as I could. I found a sense of purpose in supporting my fellow military spouses and families. When I wasn’t teaching or volunteering, I was active with the Patriot Guard Riders, honoring our fallen service members and veterans. Everywhere around me, I was surrounded by members of the military community, in awe of what they were doing and what they had accomplished.
I never quite kicked the desire to serve my country, although I was convinced initially that it was “too late” for me. I was “too far along” in my civilian career to make a switch, and I didn’t want to walk away from all of those years of education. Plus, I liked my job. At the time I didn’t see all of the possibilities that the military offered, and I was only thinking in terms of active duty.
I finally had an enlightened moment when I realized I could be in the military and still continue to teach as a member of the Reserves. I went through a period of joking about it offhandedly, but finally put a deadline on the goal. At that point, I’d yet to start a family of my own, and I figured the time was now or never. When my 30th birthday came and went, I finally started calling around to the local recruiting offices and the rest is history – my military history.
Making the decision to become a dual military family isn’t something done hastily, as so many factors are involved – your spouse’s military status, your family’s needs, and, most importantly, family and spousal support. I am fortunate in that my husband has believed in my dream since I first started joking about it and has cheered me on every step of the way.
I would encourage any spouses who’ve been kicking around the idea of joining the ranks themselves to take that idea to the next level and start having conversations with their spouse. Maybe you, like me, never want to look back and wonder what would’ve happened if you’d pursued that dream. Maybe you too will find yourself in the office of your local recruiter, raising your right hand, and repeating the same words that have made you so proud of your spouse and other loved ones.