I’ve been an Army wife for 11 years and during that time my family has PCS’d … Once. I even joke that I married a soldier thinking that I’d get to see the world and instead I got to see … Ft. Bragg.
Every inch of it.
Also, I’ve never lived on post. Not once have I “been assigned housing”. I don’t need a GPS to find my way home. We can paint our walls any color we like and no one complains when our grass is too long. (Well, actually people do complain, but it has no effect on my husband’s career.)
When friends talk about the struggles that come with military life, I know that my family has been lucky in that we don’t have to pack up and start a new life in a new area every two or three years.
So, no, my military life doesn’t look like yours, but you might want to hold off before snarking that it “must be nice.” Because where my family doesn’t have to deal with things like frequent moving or base housing, we do have to deal with deployments.
During our 11 years of marriage my husband has deployed 15 times, for a total of approximately (because they all run together when I try to remember and add them up) 88 months. And forty-two of those months (lest you assume these have all been short, “easy” deployments) were spent in sunny southern Afghanistan.
In other words, we’ve been married for 132 months and he’s only been been home for about 44 of them. I’m no mathlete, but that comes out to two-thirds of our life that he’s missed.
It has not been easy. How’s that for an understatement?
We have three kids.
(Yes, that means I’ve gotten pregnant pretty much every time he’s been home for more than a month. What can I say? He’s hot.)
Life has happened. And more often than not, I have not had my soulmate here to help when life has happened to me.
But I have had my military family.
Without fail, my military community has rallied around me because everyone understands that deployments suck. No one questions that my family needs help. No one argues that my load isn’t heavy. Everyone gets it.
That’s why I’ll fight to keep the Commissaries open, and fight for resources to make PCSing easier, and fight for help for military families with special needs kids, and fight all the other fights that only affect a portion — but not the whole — of the military community. I’ll take up all those other fights that don’t have much to do with me because — even though I rarely shop in the Commissary, we don’t PCS and my kids don’t have special needs — I know that these issues are important to others in the community.
Military life is hard, and it’s hard for pretty much all of us, but it’s hard in different ways.
At least we’ve got each other. We are united in being the tiniest percentage of people in American history to serve and sacrifice during war time.
We are #OneForce.
One military family.
My struggles are yours, your struggles are mine. And we — this whole, huge, diverse, far-flung family — will only survive the catastrophic cuts that Congress seems determined to inflict upon us if we unite our voices and stand up for each other.
You don’t use the Commissary? Great. Me neither. But we have brothers and sisters who can’t feed their families without standing in a queue and hearing “Next Please”.
You don’t PCS? Me neither. But we have people who move every two or three years and desperately need all the help they can get to make their lives more normal.
Your kids don’t have special needs? Neither do mine. Join me in offering up some prayers of gratitude for that, and then lets look for ways to ease the hardships of others.
The war is ending and so are deployments for your family? Awesome. I am truly happy for you. Guess what? They’re not ending for mine. I’m still going to need your support.
I’ve got your back.
You’ve got mine.
We are #OneForce. Let’s act like it.