Guest Blogger: Natalie Burke
Author Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again, even if you questioned whether you wanted to.
I grew up as an Army brat – with all of the relocation and forced flexibility that implies. I swore as an adult, I wanted to plant my feet firmly in one place for the rest of my life. Then, I began my career as an elementary school special education teacher alongside the librarian mother of Navy LT Will Burke. The pressure for a meeting built after my father met Will’s father at a military conference.
Both of our families started trying to get us together. We finally met at a military mass at the National Basilica in Washington and started dating.
Within four months, Will was deployed to the waters off North Africa. We kept in touch by the internet and satellite phone. We got married this summer and I was plunged back into military life which I see in a less ego centric light than I allowed as a child or even young adult. Now, I can see the gifts that military life has given me. As things change, I’m very quick to adapt to it. In an increasingly globalized society, I have the ability to move through other cultures easily and with an open mind.
I do not look forward to the day Will deploys again, but I have a strong support network and I’m an informed advocate for the services made available to military families such as spouses clubs and Family Readiness groups.
Military families know that life isn’t always easy, but we are committed to working toward the greater good. Part of that includes educating our civilian friends and neighbors. They are very quick to thank our service members, and often their nuclear families, for their service. But when those service members deploy, lending an ear or a helping hand would be welcome for a lot of military families who really dig in their feet and try to get everything done on their own. They may not look up and ask for help, but a demonstration of understanding for the spouse left behind — and an extra dose of love and support for a child missing a deployed parent – can change everything for an hour or two. And that can make all the difference.