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Guest Blog | #MyMilFam Service Is a Choice

Guest Blogger: Claudia Chavez

If there’s a quality about military families that I want the country to internalize, it is our strength. We hear frequently about the sacrifices of military life — and there is no denying we make them. But I fear that sets up the idea that we are struggling.

Let’s be clear — there is no draft. Military life is our choice. It was my husband’s dream. Neither of us came from military families. Their lack of understanding – and often their fear – fed our determination. We are high school sweethearts and we married one year after my husband enlisted. He serves as a Gunnery Sergeant, who missed the birth of our twins when he was ordered to serve a one-year tour in Camp Fuji, Japan in 2002. Even though I was surrounded by family, it was a lonely and difficult time for me because I needed my husband, but no one ever knew that. I had a high risk pregnancy with a condition that dictated that my babies Bailey and Giani needed to be delivered early. They weighed barely four pounds. Giani suffered a lung collapse and was transferred to a hospital away from his brother. I shuttled between hospitals – keeping my husband updated via email and Red Cross message. They’re now nearly young men at the age of 11 and they have a seven year-old brother. As our boys have grown, my husband has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and is currently deployed to Kuwait. Of course, we miss his presence, but we are conscious to never leave him out of life at home.

We use our iPhones and iCloud account to share pictures with each other. We have an album titled “Family”. We snap pictures of happy milestones and upload them to the album. Everyone gets a notification through the family sharing network and everyone has the ability to comment or like the pictures. For example, Giani recently took pictures of all of his school exams with scores of 100% to show his dad. When my husband woke up the next day, he saw the pictures and told my son how proud he was. Also, yesterday my youngest son, Rey, came home with a paragraph he wrote in school about his hero and it happened to be about his dad. I snapped a photo, uploaded it to the album, and my husband saw it when he woke up. Little opportunities like these keep us strong and unite us while he is gone.

Deployments are not easy to endure, but they’ve given my boys an independence and strength I’m not sure they would have developed in civilian life. All of the boys demonstrate personal responsibility and they are my biggest supporters as I continue my college journey. The boys are always asking me if I need help with anything — they don’t need to be reminded of chores — the twins protect my youngest son and look after him. The love they have for each other is incredible.

Military life has not only made my boys strong minded, they are more open minded, too. Their exposure to other cultures and the uncommon things in life causes them to think about greater possibilities for themselves and others. Military families think a good deal about extending themselves to each other and to society at large. We have been richly blessed with this life and I want young military families – especially those who have no prior military history – to recognize the opportunities that await them, especially the opportunity to develop strong family bonds.

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