To the brand new Military Spouse,
I know things feel a bit scary right now. Your loving spouse has just joined the Military. You might not even know how to feel right now.
= 38 months or 3 years, 2 months.
This is how long my husband was gone on deployments. This does not count any of the other times he has been gone for non-deployment reasons.
WOW! Almost 3.5 years? I can’t even wrap my mind around that. I can’t. Looking back, we got through it. Sometimes just one hour at a time but we did it.
He missed so much. He kissed our 3-week old boy goodbye after meeting him just 2 weeks earlier and he did not see him again until he was almost one. He missed the whole first year of his life. That is a lot of time. If you have a baby, you know how different a 3 week old is from an 11-month-old. You know everything they go through in that time. All the stages and changes. My husband got to experience all of that through photos. That’s it. Just photos.
He said to me once that it was a weird feeling. Knowing you had a son out there that you loved but didn’t know at all. That broke my heart.
I don’t like to think about that. I don’t want to think about the politics of why he was there because it hurts too much. He joined the Army and did his job and THAT is why he was gone.
He has missed so much and for an involved father like him, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I have been away from my boys for 10 days at the longest and I was SO ready to get back to them.
His first deployment was 15 months long. It was extended. It should have been shorter. He came home for R&R to be with me for the birth of our child but got there a few days late. That was okay. I was able to handle that but I knew I wanted him there for any future babies we were going to have. I didn’t want to have to give birth without my husband again.
To add to things, my husband didn’t join the Army until our oldest son was 13 months old. He didn’t miss anything with him. He was there for the pregnancy, the labor, the birth, the newborn months, watching him learn to roll, to sit, to stand.
I think about the wives of soldiers during WW2. My Grandpa was gone for three years. They didn’t have kids at the time but other soldiers did. Can you imagine leaving you 2-year-old and seeing them again when they were 5? With only letters to get by? I can’t. That makes what we went through seem a lot easier.
I know we can’t beat ourselves up for all that he missed. We just can’t. It comes with Military life. It is normal for them to miss things. Other Military spouses get it. They have been through it as well. They understand how hard it can be too.
There are things you can do to make the distance a little easier. You can talk on video chat, send a lot of photos, talk on the phone, send care packages, etc. But at the end of the day, it is not the same as having them live in the same house with you and your children day after day.
As a Military spouse, you have to come to a place of accepting that your spouse will miss part of your kid’s childhood. You can’t always plan when they will be home. You can’t make sure that they will be there when you have a baby, when your child walks for the first time, when they start Kindergarten or when they graduate from high school. You might have to be there without them, take a few videos and some photos and share them with your spouse that way. You accept all of this as a part of Military life.
You can hope and pray that they won’t miss too many important things. They will be home sometimes. They will not be gone for all of their Military careers. Remember that when you feel frustrated about how much they have missed.
Think about the times you have had together, the experiences you have had because you are a Military family and the good that can come from standing by your spouse as they go through their Military career.
Growing up, I didn’t think a whole lot about if the person I married in the future would be in the Military or not. I was aware of the Military. My Grandparents had served, my Dad was in the Air Force before he met my mom. My mom even taught at a DOD school in Germany. I just never thought that would necessarily be something in my future.
I met my husband who had been in the Army before I had met him. I thought that was his past, not my future. Life is funny and about three years after we were married he re-enlisted and my life as a Military Spouse began.
Over the years, there have been plenty of difficult moments. Some days I wanted to pull my hair out and scream and cry about how hard Military life was. But overall, being a Military Spouse is pretty amazing and this is why:
1. You Meet Amazing People-
During your time as a Military spouse, you will meet a lot of different people from all over the place. You will meet someone born and raised in Germany, in Korea, in Hawaii or anywhere else outside of where you grew up and they will become your closest friend. You might meet someone famous, you might meet someone political. There are so many opportunities to meet people when you are a Military spouse.
2. You Can Live in Amazing Places-
Germany, Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, Colorado, Belgium, South Korea, Guam and Washington DC are just some of the amazing places you might get to live if you are a Military family. Going OCONUS or even living in a different part of the US can be such a great experience. You get to see parts of the world you never thought you would get to. It’s amazing!
3. You Can Learn a lot about yourself-
Being alone sometimes, having to make new friends more often than others do, having to adjust and be flexible are all a part of Military life. Through these experiences you can learn more about yourself and who you are as a person.
4. You become more independent-
As a Military spouse, you have to become more independent. You have no choice. You will have to take care of finances, of the children, of the home. You will have to make choices that most couples make together. It feels so overwhelming sometimes but it forces you to become more independent which is a good thing. You can find a sisterhood
5. You can find a sisterhood-
There is something about the Military community. Once you join it, you will always be apart of it. You will meet Military spouses in other places and feel like you have something in common. You will have friends all over the country that you can connect with. One friend will move away and there is always the chance that another friend will move close to you again. Military spouses understand what the Military life is all about and can support each other, both online and offline. You never have to feel alone. You understand sacrifice
6. You understand sacrifice-
Sacrifice can come in different forms but as a Military spouse, you will feel it. Your service member will miss out on important events like a birth or even a move. You will feel it then. You will feel it when you say goodbye to them for a deployment and know they will miss your oldest child’s first day of Kindergarten. You will feel it when you can’t take them with you when you go home for Christmas. You will feel it if they come home injured or if they don’t come home at all. There is no way around sacrifice is you are a Military spouse.
7. You will grow as a person through the good and the bad-
There is no double that life as a Military wife will change you. No matter what you go through, the good, the bad, the easy, the hard, you will change and grow as a person and that is always a good thing. Life will never stay the same as Military life is always full of changes.
8. You will never look at Memorial Day the same way again-
Before Military life, I knew about Memorial Day but it changed a lot when I became an Army wife. I knew people who lost their husbands. I knew that what my husband did was dangerous. I knew what could happen. That changed Memorial Day from a day to honor other people to honoring people I knew. I will never look at that day the way I did before. I can’t. I have seen too much.
9. Your kids will understand what it means to serve your country-
There is no better way for a child to understand what it means to serve their country than to have a parent in the Military. They will grow up with knowing what that really means. There are many different ways someone can serve their country and growing up in the Military can help your children understand what it means to do so. Life isn’t always easy for a Military child but they will learn a lot and that is a good thing.
When a deployment first starts and you have the long stretch of days ahead of you, it might seem like you are never going to get to the end. You are sad and trying to get used to your new normal. All you want to do is stay in bed and cry away the day. But you can’t do that the whole time they are away. You have to live and you have to make plans. This is even more important if you have children. You can’t stay in your “cave” for the whole deployment.
So…you start to figure out how to do this deployment thing. You make plans and look ahead at the months he will be gone and know you will have to fill them. You will need time to pass. You need the deployment to speed up. But how?
They tell you that the #1 thing you can do to get through a deployment is to stay busy and this is true. If your deployment is dragging, fill up your calendar and it will start to pick up. Even if it is something little and silly, put it on your calendar. You can include book releases, tv shows or just a trip to the park. Fill up your days so you won’t feel so alone and so that time passes and you can have some fun even if you still miss your spouse while you are having it. If you can, plan a trip. Go see a part of the country you have never been before, visit your parents, take a trip to the beach.
Projects are really going to help you speed up your deployment. Think about house projects, did you want to paint your bedroom? Make plans to do it. Want to catch up on your scrapbooks? Go ahead. Want to write a book? Maybe now is the time to do it. Think about all the things on your to-do list and get started on them. We always seem to have extra time during deployments and it is best to fill it with things that you want to do. Projects can allow you to get focused on something else and it is always a good feeling to finish something that you have always wanted to start.
If you can plan to get together with friends during your deployment, time is going to go by a lot faster. Plan playdates, nights out, dinners together and even holidays. Plan for walks, start a book club and get your kids together. Find others that are missing their spouses and celebrate getting through the stages of deployment. Have a 100 days party and then get together to make homecoming signs when you know they are coming home. Stick together and know you have each other. The military members have battle buddies and the spouses need them to. They are the best way to get through a deployment, especially a long one.
If you feel stuck, feel like time is just not moving, take some time to make some plans. There is a lot you can to do to speed up the deployment. If you focus on other things, time will speed up, I promise. You will be glad you spent the deployment actually doing something instead of staying home and being sad the whole time.
Some people worry about having too much fun when their spouse has to be in a war zone. That can be hard to let go of but the truth is, it’s okay to have fun when they are gone. They should understand. They should know that you have to get through the deployment in whatever way that you can. If they don’t understand this and expect you to stay home the whole time, you need to have a talk. It isn’t fair to you and it wouldn’t be a good way to get through a deployment.
“This post was sponsored by the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central.”
Being a Military family during the holidays can be difficult. That is why is it so important to remember those people who are serving during this time of year. Sometimes they are home and are able to spend some time with their families and other times they are far away, missing their spouses, children, and other family members during a time when most people get to spend the holidays together.
It is so important to thank our service members throughout the year but especially during the holiday season. There are a lot of great ways to do this. I know for our family it is important to be there for others when they are missing someone during the holidays. When someone is overseas and away from their families it is nice to know that their spouse has friends to depend on back at home.
Care packages can go a long way as well. I enjoyed getting packages together to arrive in time for Christmas when my husband was away from us because of the Military. I knew he would be able to share some of what I sent with others in his Unit. I also remember receiving a few care packages myself and they really helped me feel better during my husband’s deployment. Small things like that can go a long way in helping say thank you to the members of the military and their families.
If you do not know any Military members personally, you can give in other ways. We have been able to give to different Military organizations that help the Military in different ways. From Christmas presents to helping those who have been injured. Take some time to look around your community and see where you can help those who serve. Even the smallest of donations can go a long way in helping the Military community.
MetLife also wishes you a happy holidays!
It is important to maintain good dental care, even during this time of year. The TRICARE Dental Program benefit includes the recommended cleanings twice a year, three times a year for those who are pregnant or people with diabetes. Two fluoride treatments are also covered within each consecutive 12-month period.
It is important to know that the TDP offers a network of over 250,000 locations worldwide. You can visit the website to find a dentist near you if you don’t already have one.
In the National Guard and Reserves? If you are enrolled in the TDP, network dentists can complete the Department of Defense Active Duty/Reserve Forces Dental Examination form -DD Form 2813 for them which will be done at zero cost.
2015 Winter Health Matters Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1mbgftc
MetLife TDP website: www.metlife.com/tricare
My husband and I had talked about him re-joining the Military for months before he actually did. It was a hard decision to make and I can remember thinking about how if he did join he would be gone for long periods of time. This would mean that I would be the solo parent in the home to our son and any future children we might have.
That was a hard thing to come to terms with. To think that I would have to be alone with my kids for periods of time. That wasn’t what I had in mind when I married my husband. We were going to have kids, several of them. He was a good father. He would be there for everything.
Being a solo parent is just one of the many ways that Military life is hard. It can really get to you and each day can be a struggle. And as much as there are good things about Military life like homecomings, good friends, taking pride in what your spouse is doing, there are some hard truths about it as well.
This one can be hard for some people, especially if you can’t make it home to be with other family members. Deployments and trainings doesn’t usually take off for the holidays, especially the smaller ones. You can’t ever assume that they will be home for Christmas, if they are, you are one of the lucky ones. You will have to make the best of it, celebrate later or figure out creative ways to still celebrate the holidays when they are gone.
Raise your hand if you had to give birth without your husband. So many of us Military spouses have had to do this. For me it was because they send him home on R&R but he didn’t get home in time. He met his son at our front door when he was three days old. Thank goodness my mom was there. I have had friends that do decide to go home if they know their husband will be gone for the birth. Others are able to Skype with them during the birth. Thank goodness for technology. Although a lot of commands do try to make it so that your spouse will be with you for the birth, it isn’t always possible.
Military life includes a lot of moves. That means that people will be coming and going all the time. As a Military spouse you will have to say goodbye to a lot of people, your kids will too. Some of these people will be your best friends and saying goodbye will hurt in the worst way. Other friends might not be as close but you will miss seeing them on a regular basis and will feel their absence. And if your friends aren’t moving any time soon, you might be the one to have to do it. It is hard to always have to say goodbye and then try to make new friends again but we Military spouses do it. We do it all the time.
Because of the way Military life works, you will become more independent as a Military spouse. Things will break when they are gone and you will have to figure that out by yourself. You will have to run the household, pay all the bills, make a lot of decisions alone that a lot of couples make together. All of that will make you very independent. This can be a challenge when they are home. You will still want to do it all and sometimes you have to let them do things again. This is something you and your spouse will have to work through in order to get to a good place.
It’s important to understand these hard truths if you are a Military spouse. You want to be prepared for them and it is also nice to know that a lot of other Military spouses experience these challenges too. It can help you not feel so alone if your spouse is in the Military and you are living the Military life.
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Military life is a rollercoaster. You will have your good days and your bad ones. You will have highs and you will have lows. You will be waiting for orders for months and months and then you get them and before you know it you are on a plane headed to your next duty station. It’s a strange way to live your life, always waiting and then not waiting and hoping and crying and then laughing. Your emotions are all over the place.
When you hit a hard season of Military life, it can be hard to know what to do. You want to think positively, but it is hard. You want to keep busy, but all you really want to do is hide in your bed. You want to remember that this too shall pass but all you see is more lonely nights, more frustrating days and years of feeling like your life can never be normal again.
Here are 7 things to do when Military life gets too hard:
Paris was attacked on Friday. This was big news. I found out on social media which is where I find out about most worldly events, I am not a big tv news watcher. I started seeing people posting photos of visits to Paris and that we should pray for them. I didn’t really understand why until I saw what had happened.
I have had a few days to think about all this. I have read a few blog posts about it and seen so many social media posts about it as well. Everyone seems to have an option about what happened, about how the US is acting, about what we should be doing to support Paris and about why we didn’t do anything about other attacks in the last week, attacks in places like Beirut, Syria and Kenya. There is a lot going on in this world right now.
Is it fair to blame people who are supporting Paris but were silent on the other places? I don’t know. I for one didn’t know much about them until after Paris happened. I will admit I probably did see news articles about those things happening. And I am sure my thought was, “That is so very sad, yet another tragedy in that part of the world.” I didn’t do much else. I didn’t share photos praying for those places, I didn’t change my Facebook profile to their flags. I just went along in my day.
Paris gets hit and it affects me differently. Paris is close to Germany, where we used to live. People in Paris are more like me then people in those other places. Still, I can’t help but feel guilty about not really acknowledging what is happening in other parts of the world. I think focusing on Paris makes sense because we feel like Paris is like us. We feel connections to Paris that we don’t to other places. Is this the way it should be? Probably not but it is what happens. If you tell me that your friend’s sister’s neighbor’s house burned down, I am going to feel sad about that. If you tell me someone in my neighborhood’s house burned down, it would affect me much more. I would look into more tangible ways of helping them. I would feel more connected to it. This is just reality.
There is another part of what happened in Paris that worries me. War. More war. More fighting. More deployments. I don’t know of very many Military Spouses that heard about Paris and didn’t think about what it could mean for their own spouse. If feels like the wars we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are never going to end, regardless of what any politician says.
I am not sure what the solution to ISIS is. It’s a scary thing to think that people would hate other people so much that they could go in and kill them. The thought of that makes me want to burst into tears. But what do we do about that? What should America do? Keep sending people to the same places over and over? Back in 2003 I thought that was the solution. That we should send our troops in to do what was needed. It is now the end of 2015 and I just don’t know anymore.
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I don’t know what would be right or moral or what should happen? I don’t know if what we are doing is going to help or make things worse. I have to trust in those that have the power to make those decisions but it is a difficult thing to do. Especially when my husband could be dirrectly affect by the choices those people make.
I know so many people who have been affected by war because I have been a Military Spouse for 10 years now. I know how some don’t come home and some come home broken. I see how marriages can break up and things are never the same after time over there.
Pray for those areas, all of them, in Europe and Asia and the rest of the world. Pray for the innocent people who might die because of everything that is going on. Pray for the Military families that will see more war than any other generation. And hope that the US and our allies can make the right decisions that in the end will lead to a more peaceful world.
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