At the beginning of the year, I wrote a Modern Love column about long distance relationships. Here’s a summary: they’re hard.
When I thought that the long distance part of my relationship was over, we were faced with an opportunity that we couldn’t ignore.
My fiancé enlisted in the Army National Guard.
I aspire to be lots of things in life, but I never thought being an army wife was in my future. So of course, I obsessively researched the life I was getting myself into and boy, was I shocked.
Can we just take a second and give some kudos to the military families out there? Because I don’t see hardly any recognition for the turmoil they go through on a daily basis.
Being a MilSo, or military significant other, is like having a long distance relationship on steroids.
Military life starts with ten weeks of basic training in another state with little to no communication other than snail mail. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I wrote and mailed a letter.
After basic, the soldiers go to advanced individual training (AIT) for 5 to 13 weeks depending on which career path they select. Thankfully, in our case it’s only five weeks in AIT.
According to Army National Guard Recruiter Mario Garnett, communication is a little more lenient in AIT, possibly allowing phone use during evenings and/or weekends, but that’s ultimately up to the commander and first sergeant.
As if that weren’t difficult enough, becoming a military family isn’t just dealing with a job change. It’s a lifestyle change.
Upon graduation of basic, I will no longer be marrying a regular civilian, but a soldier. There is a reason that the two are distinguished separately.
After all the training, military families constantly have the big “D” word hanging over them. That’s right. Deployment.
Soldiers are government property, meaning they can be torn from their families and deployed wherever and whenever they are needed for months or even years at a time.
While phone use is allowed, military spouses often alter their sleep schedules just to be able to talk to their soldiers because they never really know for sure when the next time they’ll be able to.
There is a constant reminder that their soldier might never return home. If that isn’t emotionally taxing, I don’t know what is. Meanwhile, the MilSo has to hold the house down and carry on.
Once they do return home, readjusting to the family and a safe environment can be harder than it may seem.
Not to mention military families frequently move, depending on where the soldier is stationed.
Things get even more complicated when there are children in the picture. Soldiers often miss milestones, holidays, birthdays, sometimes even the birth of their children. Can you imagine having to prepare your children for their parent’s deployment? Going through a pregnancy while your soldier is overseas?
I can’t begin to explain the difficulties that military families face and the strength they must have because I am new to the lifestyle, but it’s not all as bad as it may sound.
Of course there are many benefits offered to military families, but the strength and bond that these families form is irreplaceable.
They cherish every second they have together, and words cannot describe the respect and support these families have.
While I’m absolutely terrified for this part of my life, at the same time I couldn’t be any more excited and proud to become a military wife.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout my research and during this process is to take this life one day at a time.