When the opportunity to serve our country arose, my husband and I decided together that it would be a great opportunity for both of us. While my husband has the commission, I am also part of the package and military life has significantly impacted who I am today.
I knew that things would change for us when we made this decision. Reflecting on the ten-plus years we have been in the military, I have realized that I’ve undergone a lot of changes and emotional growth.
While I eagerly anticipated and welcomed the “adventure” of military life, I did not realize the impact that arriving in a new state with no job and no friends would have on me or how I would find the courage to start over with every move. I did not understand how being away from my spouse for long periods of time could help me to find strength to do things on my own, and to appreciate our relationship even more. Each time was a reminder to show my husband love and compassion even when we are not in agreement on something.
I was not prepared for the reaction from civilians when they found out I was a military spouse – mostly positive and full of gratitude which humbles me to no end. Sometimes my military affiliation is met with negative sentiments and I have found my voice to engage in meaningful discussion rather than react with hostility or fear.
I have a different sense of belonging. There is a bond among the military family that cannot be replaced and is always respected. We look out for our own. I am currently in graduate school and on our first day of class, after introductions, we had to break into small groups. There is a man in my cohort who is retired military and he made a beeline toward me. “Military sticks together,” he said. So true. I know that I can count on other military families and they can count on me.
Yes, there are challenges but who I am today and who I will continue to become makes every challenge and sacrifice worth it. How has your military experience shaped you? If you really think about it, the answers may pleasantly surprise you.