To the National Guard Spouse During AT
It’s summer! Well…almost. Today is actually the last day of school, so I am calling it. And with summer comes a lot of fun. Time at the pool, sleeping in, BBQs, movies in the park…but summer also brings something big for us National Guard and Reserve spouses…AT. Annual training. The “two weeks a year” part of the National Guard commitment we always hear so often.
My husband’s AT has been different every year. The first year he was gone on the fourth of July, for about two and a half weeks. I think he went to Texas or Louisana? It’s hard to remember. The next time he was gone for three weeks in June. It feels like it is different every year, anywhere from two to three to four weeks.
I am in a National Guard Spouse Facebook group, and with summer approaching and many National Guard units leaving for AT or NTC, it is clear, many spouses are not having the easiest time.
AT isn’t something I think too much about during the rest of the year.
I know it is coming, and before he leaves, I always tell myself the time apart won’t be a big deal. That it is just a few weeks, that it isn’t a deployment, and that we have been apart for a long longer over the years.
But the reality is, once AT starts, I go right into solo parenting mode, and none of that is easy. I have to have a lot of talks with myself to get through. I have to stay busy and work hard so that I don’t get too sad about missing having him around.
So, to the National Guard spouse that is missing their love this summer, to the Reserve spouse who wishes time would fly, you got this.
I mean it.
We can do this. We can.
We have done it before, we can get through it all again.
We will figure out what works for us and make it to the finish line.
One of the hardest things about AT is what your spouse is going to miss.
Maybe that is the end of school for your kids and all that comes with it; maybe it is summer traditions like going to the pool the first day it opens, or even missing a big part of the sports season. Whatever it is, it sucks that they have to miss it. You know that just comes with military life, but that doesn’t make things any easier.
AT or NTC can be even harder when you know they are preparing for an upcoming deployment. You know this is just a taste of what life will be like when they are away for longer. And sometimes we might freak out about future time apart. You might wonder how you will get through a nine-month deployment if these three weeks are this hard.
The truth of all this is, yes, these three weeks at AT might be a little brutal, but once the deployment starts, you will get into a groove.
This might take a while, but it will happen. This doesn’t mean the deployment is going to be easy, but you will find ways to make it through, no matter how long the deployment might be. And you might even be able to find a good groove during AT.
Don’t assume that how you feel on your hardest day of AT is how you will feel throughout your whole deployment. You might have days like that, but you will also have days where you feel like you are rocking the homefront and can handle anything that comes your way.
So to the National Guard spouse that is wishing their husband or wife was back home, to the Reserve spouse who wants time to fly, eventually, AT or NTC will be over.
They will be home again, and you can get back to your summer.
And in the meantime, make plans, make a lot of plans. Don’t just stay in your house. Take the time to organize a room in your home or to take a trip back home if it works out to do so. Look at these weeks apart as a time to work on yourself and grow as a person. Find other spouses who either understand what you are going through or will be your support as you go through it.
AT never seems to come at a good time. There will always be something that they miss that you wish they wouldn’t. You will always wish that the time apart was a little bit shorter.
But in the end, you can use this time for good.
Whether it is working on your house, making memories with your kids, or simply remembering what you love about your spouse.
As National Guard spouses, we might not have a lot of local support but there is plenty of online support, and you might even be surprised at the friends you will make along the way.
Here are a couple of Facebook groups to join if you are a National Guard spouse looking to connect with others:
We have quite the fair share of National Guard and Reserves spouses in my group 🙂
So, if you are getting ready for your spouse to leave for AT or NTC this summer, here are a few things to remember:
- Stay busy
- Work on yourself
- Find new friends (even if they are just online.)
- Don’t assume a future deployment will feel the same way
- Make goals
- You got this!
Here are some of my National Guard blog posts too 🙂
The National Guard Doesn’t Deploy and Other Myths That Are Simply Not True
What are you planning to do while your spouse is away for AT this year?