A few weeks ago, my favorite soldier retired after a 22-year military career. When we married, I had no idea I would become a military spouse. It wasn’t even a consideration. We started our life together with careers and had two sons. Then, my husband felt called to serve his country and joined the National Guard. He explained to me that he was doubtful about deploying.
That changed after the events following September 11th, 2001, when my husband was deployed to Iraq in 2004. I was learning what it meant to be in a military family, and frankly, I felt confused and bewildered. So many decisions happened swiftly, without discussion or choice, and as a late bloomer military spouse, I felt angry. I felt unprepared.
A Military Homecoming
I remember when he returned home from deployment. I felt anxious and unsure about our relationship with our family. He became increasingly involved in the National Guard. Eventually, he assumed an active-duty full-time position, leaving his former career behind.
By this time, I realized that we had begun a new lifestyle. His call to serve required my sacrifice to change careers to make up the difference. He also deployed to the Middle East a second time. I was called to step up as a principal parent and home manager. We felt his absence in our home life through the years.
Finding Our Footing as a Military Family
By the time my husband took on command responsibility, I was more seasoned. I also found ways to serve the military as a professional and volunteer. During these years, I understood more fully what drove my husband to dedicate his life and work to his military mission. I still found myself frustrated at times but no longer angry. I realized that we had become a military family.
Our sons grew into adults and married beautiful women who expressed interest in helping me plan the retirement ceremony reception. However, the wives became very frustrated and angry when plans shifted and changed. At first, I was confused until I remembered how I felt years before. It is sometimes hard to understand when you are not used to military life.
A military family has learned to adapt; to become resilient. We are a military family.
I am pleased to continue to honor military spouses through the TWC spouses retreat program.