Today we have a great post about what happens AFTER military life, so leave some love for Ashley over at Adventures in Motherhood!!
Military is in my blood and military wifedom seems to be a tradition. I am a third generation military wife (at the very least, there may be more!). My mother and my grandmother were both military wives before me. My dad retired from the Air Force when I was in the fourth grade and I still remember his retirement ceremony. When I was a senior in high school I joined the Air Force Junior ROTC and then in college I did a semester of Army ROTC. I knew I wanted to join the military, and in fact I was on the path to do just that when I reunited and fell in love with a very tall and charming US Navy sailor - my now husband.
I loved being a Navy wife. Despite the hardships of being 3,000 miles away from family and friends and essentially starting over in a new town, I felt like I was a member of an exclusive club. Or better yet, a family – the Navy family. There’s a kinship among the spouses and family members, they “get it” when your civilian friends don’t. It was comforting to know I had that safety net when I needed it. My husband had already been in for 3 years when we got together; he had just gotten off a deployment and was transferred to shore duty after we got married. I’m sure some wives are jealous because I never had to endure a deployment or a workup but shore duty has its own challenges. By the time the Navy made the decision (I say that because it was not his choice) to honorably discharge my husband he had served 7 years of active duty.
Going from Navy wife to Navy Veteran wife was slightly difficult for me. I suddenly felt like I was booted out of the club, like my family abandoned me. I was afraid and angry at the Navy. I just kept thinking ‘How could the Navy do this to him?’ over and over and over again. Even though my fellow Navy wife friends didn’t treat me any differently, I still couldn’t help but feel this way. To top it off, my husband could not find a job and we had a 9 month old baby and bills to pay. Talk about stress! My husband and I handle stress differently and because of that it causes more stress. So for five months our house was nothing but a giant ball of stress with a sprinkle of abandonment issues on top. Not fun. I don’t know how we got through it but we did. The funny thing is that people have asked us how we did it, how we survived and our answer every time is “We just did it.”
And then it dawned on me, the civilian world isn’t so different from the military. When your husband is deployed and you’re suddenly a single mom what do you do? You suck it up, take it day by day and just do it because no one else will do it for you. Sitting and crying about it doesn’t help the situation. Being a Navy wife and navigating the ups and downs of the military world has prepared me for anything that life has to throw at me. Suddenly I wasn’t so angry or afraid anymore, I felt stronger and a little braver for taking on all that stress and beating it. I could take on the world if I wanted! So now I happily take on anything that is thrown my way because the Navy has taught me how to deal with it. My husband has earned his title of Navy Veteran and now I finally feel like I’ve earned my title of Navy Veteran wife.