by Rachel Tringali, Guest Contributor
My dad was an active duty Airman at Shaw AFB in South Carolina when I was born and we were also in the process of a PCS (my first and my parents’ third). At the ripe age of 2 months, I hopped on a C-130 to the Philippines, while my dad continued on to Osan Air Base in South Korea to fulfill an unaccompanied tour. My mom and I stayed in the Philippines to wait for my dad because Clark Air Base was his follow-on assignment and we also have family nearby. It really helped having family around!
After the Philippines, I’ve lived in a handful more places with my parents – PCS’ed here and there. In the mid-90s, we were stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base where my parents decided to buy a home. Unfortunately, the base closed and my dad got reassigned. That’s when my family made the difficult decision to do long distance.
My dad worked in Washington, D.C., and my mom and I stayed in Austin, Texas. We dealt with the long distance for a couple of years. Then, my dad went the Air Guard route to finish his service back in Texas. I was 16 years-old when my dad officially retired from the Air Force. It didn’t really end there though. My family would still drive to the nearest base (there are a lot in San Antonio or even Fort Hood) to do any necessary shopping, etc.
I truly valued my experience growing up in the military. It also helped me understand my life now as a military spouse. In honor of the Month of the Military Child, I’ve listed the top 5 lessons I’ve learned as a military child that shaped me into the military spouse I am today.
The Top 5 Lessons I Learned as a Military Child
- The world is really a beautiful place. Despite all the conflict that our world experiences every day, it’s really is a beautiful place. I only have fond memories of traveling the world. It might have been a little frustrating when we had to move again, but once we arrived at our new destination, there is always something exciting and beautiful about it. Also, what 10 year-old can say that they have lived in 3 different countries?
- It is important to have a sense of pride. In this country, we’re fortunate to be able to create our own successes. As a military child, it was important for me to make my parents proud. I always had a sense of discipline and understanding with my parents. I never wanted to disappoint them, so I studied hard and worked my way through college. For me, success isn’t measured by the amount of money you make, but the amount of happiness you bring into your life. Right now, I’m pretty happy.
- Your family is amazing. Military children are lucky. They have a whole base (or post) behind them! There is a real sense of community with military families and an incredible amount of support! Your family grows with every move too! That helps children become adaptable because you interact with so many different people. It also helps broaden your understanding.
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going! I experienced a lot of change as a military child. I’d be lying if I said I welcomed it. In addition, there are a lot (I mean, A LOT) of things that you and your parents can’t control. For example, deployments. I’m not the first person to say that deployments suck. It sucks not only for spouses, but the kiddos too. I suffered a lot of separation anxiety when my dad went away, but I learned to overcome it. I understood the bigger picture. My dad was doing a service to protect and serve not only my family, but the families of all the citizens of our country. Be sure to keep your head held high!
- Don’t forget to enjoy military life! I’ve learned that I can’t dwell on the negatives. Another move, another PCS, another deployment…Even with all the challenges and overcoming changes, there is always a light at the end of tunnel and life goes on. It’s important to make the most it because if you don’t, you will probably regret it!
Rachel Tringali is a newly minted Army wife to an amazing soldier and daughter to a USAF retiree. Rachel’s family settled in Texas and that’s where she calls home. After growing up in Texas, Rachel continued her education in New York City where she earned her BA in Communication Studies. She currently resides in the Big Apple, where she works as a PR coordinator. Rachel started her writing career at a local newspaper and interned at several national and local magazines, and now writes for herself on The Professional Army Wife where she shares her experiences with others as she integrates to Army life. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter!