As we say goodbye (and good riddance!) to 2020, military spouses look forward to a new year with fresh opportunities. Perhaps 2021 will be the year you get the duty station of your dreams! This may be the chance to get a portable job that will move with you so you don’t have to keep restarting your career. Maybe in 2021 your service member will have more time at home and you can spend much-needed time together. This may be the year your military kids get a teacher who understands the challenges of military life. 2021 could be the year you make meaningful friends and finally accomplish some of the dreams you have pushed onto the back burner for so long.
Hey, a MilSpouse can dream, right?
But before we say goodbye to 2020 and all its challenges, let’s take a brief look back at how much we have all accomplished this year. In military life, there is rarely anyone around to witness your growth and give you a pat on the back when you face a challenge successfully. Whether or not you feel successful, you have accomplished a lot this year, and you have many moments to be proud of. So, military spouse, this is your year in review.
January 2020 started off with a rocket strike against U.S. military bases in Iraq. If your spouse was deployed at this time, you remember the gnawing fear and uncertainty as you waited for the reassuring sound of their voice on the phone. Although the global war on terror has been going on for almost 20 years now, it has been some time since the entire nation focused on the safety of our troops overseas and the implications of political decisions on military families. In the end, it was announced that no American troops had been killed in the attack, although many suffered traumatic brain injuries from the event. Military spouse, you are braver after getting through those troubling nights.
In February 2020, the coronavirus-19 pandemic spread to hotspots overseas, particularly Italy. If you were stationed at an overseas location, you experienced more restrictions and limitations than you have ever known before. You needed to request permission to leave your house. You worried if there would be enough food for your family, and whether your kids would fall behind in school. And yet, during those dark days, military families overseas bonded together and found creative ways to use their time and build community. Without the opportunity to travel, you learned to see the beauty and excitement in everyday elements of family life. Military spouse, you are more grateful and appreciative after going through that time of restriction.
By March, COVID-19 had spread to the United States, and now every military family was impacted. Troops preparing to deploy had to spend additional weeks in quarantine away from their family. Troops waiting to return home faced one extension after another until you didn’t think there was an end in sight. Ships cancelled port calls and forced sailors to remain on board for months at a time. Families struggled to handle the constant changes that were thrown at them, all while the fear of an unknown infectious disease hung over their heads. But somehow, you kept your head up, you kept moving forward and you remained strong for your service member even when their morale was low. Military spouse, you are stronger after facing the challenge of deployment during a pandemic.
Then there were the families facing PCS moves. You struggled to make decisions in a constantly changing landscape. You waited for an Exception to Policy to be approved before your service member could move. You struggled to buy or sell a home in the upside-down real estate market of 2020. When your move finally was approved, you found yourself thrown into a wild “peak season” with unprecedented challenges. You wept because you never got to say goodbye to friends, and your kids didn’t know that March day would be their last day of school this year. You felt frustrated when your items arrive damaged, broken or missing and you had to file all the claims paperwork. You sat alone with a glass of wine at your new duty station, wishing you could get out and explore to feel more settled, but frustrated that the Restriction of Movement rules wouldn’t let your service member leave base. Military spouse, you survived a PCS season that no one has ever been through before. You held your family and your house together. You are more creative and flexible because of this experience.
Hopefully 2021 will not be filled with these challenges. We all want to return to normal and breathe a sigh of relief. But now you know what you are made of and what incredible situations you can face. You are brave, grateful, appreciative, strong, creative and flexible. Military spouse, those skills will serve you well in 2021 and beyond, no matter what challenges lay ahead!