Happy to have this guest post by Olivia on National Guard life! Want to write a guest post for Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life? Please email me at Julie@soldierswifecrazylife.com and let me know! I take pieces on anything milspouse related, from deployment tips to duty station review.
I used to think military life was easy, fun, and quite frankly, no big deal. My spouse’s National Guard drill weekends were no issue because I would just go shopping with friends, spend time with family, eat all of the take-out Chinese food I wanted, etc.
So, the saying about things getting easier with time…I don’t think that always applies in the case of military life.
You get older. You start a family. Family gatherings grow in size and number. Activities and events start to infiltrate the fridge calendar.
You start to overhear conversations like, “Hey dad, are you coming to my soccer game this weekend?” “I’m sorry buddy, I have to go away this weekend. I’m sorry I’ll miss it.” Again. He’s so sorry he will miss yet another game. Another practice. Another swimming lesson. Another family barbeque to celebrate someone’s birthday. The list goes on.
I can see the look on my husband’s face, and then in my son’s eyes. Sadness, disappointment, hurt, felt on both ends. You’re probably thinking, it’s one game or one practice, the child won’t remember. And you’re absolutely right if it was just one or two here and there.
However, it’s close to 50-75% of the time with all activities and day-to-day life in our household. I’m sure many people think the National Guard is just one weekend per month and a two-week training in the summer each year.
Well, I wish it was just that, but that is far from the truth. For example, this year alone, my husband was gone for just under three months right after Christmas.
He was stateside, which was nice, but I work full-time and there was no way we could make a trip out to visit him a reality. This summer felt like a nice break because he literally just had drill weekends and that was it.
Well, here we are going into the fall, and into a new budget year for the National Guard, and the calendar is filling back up with additional trips to the guard base for additional duties to be completed. And, those are just the planned trips. You never know when a call will come in to go assist here or there, a week or two weeks gone.
“It’s totally what you signed up for though, right?” I get this question or similar comments whenever I mention something related to my husband’s schedule. Yes, you are correct, when my husband was 17 years old, he signed on the dotted line and is literally owned by the government until further notice. I don’t know how a 17-year-old could’ve known exactly what this life would be like, but he signed up and has been committed to them for just shy of 20 years now.
On the positive flip side, I have family who keep a similar calendar of drill and military-related events on their calendar, and they are mindful of those when planning family events. I can’t tell you how happy this makes my heart! Some get it, some don’t, and that is okay- you work around your schedule and their schedule to the best of your ability.
Other things that don’t seem to get easier or better with time, and often bring a sense of unnecessary guilt: 1. Repeatedly saying, “Sorry we can’t come, he has drill that weekend.” 2. “Don’t plan around us, you know how our schedule is.” 3. “This is our first weekend together as a family in three weeks, so no we aren’t going to plan anything.” 4. “Yes, we let our kids stay the night with grandparents just so we can have a couple of hours alone this month.”
You’re able to recognize that some have it way harder or worse than you. You’re able to rationally tell yourself that you’ll get through this and it’s not that bad. But that doesn’t minimize the stress that you’re experiencing and comparing your situation to someone else’s just isn’t realistic. Everyone is different and we all deal with things differently.
With all of this complaining or over-explaining, there are a few things that are amazing when it comes to the National Guard life. Amazing friends that just get it and don’t think twice about rescheduling something five times, because they are in the same boat.
The excitement on my kids’ faces when they see dad fly over during a training mission. The fancy dining out ceremonies that give us a few hours to relive our prom days. The pride in knowing that my husband and fellow National Guard soldiers do so much for our community and country. And, did I mention the ability to have as much Chinese take-out as you want on drill weekends? Yeah, that hasn’t changed a bit.
The National Guard life is different from other branches of service, and yet still comes with its own set of challenges. If you’re a National Guard spouse, just know that I hear you & see you. And if you want to get take-out on drill weekends, I fully support you 😉
Olivia Moser is a National Guard spouse of a CW04 CH-47 Pilot in the Nebraska Army National Guard. They have two children and an active puppy at home. She is a member of the Soldier Family Readiness Group (SFRG) for her husband’s current unit and is a member of the local Auxiliary Legion post. Olivia works full-time as a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP) and Clinical Program Manager with the State of Nebraska. She is a trained crisis negotiator, forensic interviewer, and QPR suicide prevention facilitator. She is also on the state’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team.
Go to ne.ng.mil for more information about the NEARNG
https://ne.ng.mil/FPO is a resource for Warrior & Family Support in the NEARNG