“This isn’t your Grandpa’s Military any more.”
I heard a newscaster say this once. At the time, my teenage mind probably agreed with the statement and didn’t think about it again. Years later while preparing for my husband’s deployment, that phrase suddenly came to mind. Was today’s Armed Services that much different from yesterday’s? I realized that the only way to find out was to dig into the past. Along the way, I found the strength that I needed to handle a deployment and keep my family strong.
One of the hardest things about being a Military Spouse is a deployment. I was terrified about how to handle it. What was the right way to approach this challenge? Was there some wise elder in the town that had all of the answers to my concerns? Actually, there was and they were right in front of me – my families’ Military Veterans.
The first stop was my aunt’s house; she had endured my uncle’s three Vietnam tours and almost thirty years of being a Military Spouse. Her advice hit me like a ton of bricks! The words she spoke were the same emotions that poured through me every day: Sadness, anxiety, sleeplessness, and fear were at the top. I asked how she dealt with it. She said she had to re-learn about herself, what she liked, what she didn’t, and what she really wanted to do in life. “Deep stuff,” she laughed. She decided she had to take off those comfy sweatpants and force herself out of the house. Once she began to try new things, she found what she liked, and began to make friends that were going through the same deployment experience. This was solid advice for anyone going through a rough life experience. Finally, she wished she had experienced deployments today; the luxury of telephones and Internet would have made a tremendous difference to her. I realized that new communication technology has made a positive impact on the Military family.
The next stop was to my Grandma’s home. Her dad, my great-granddad, fought in WWI. She was his firstborn, and he finally met her on her second birthday. Grandma said that my great-grandma had told her how difficult it was during that time. The Armed Services didn’t have Family Readiness Groups or other support systems. Letters took months to reach her and there wasn’t a great international phone service back then. I began to sense a communications theme. But my great-grandma wasn’t one to let sadness take over her life. She went to work, using her musical talents to play at the organ for silent movies. She said that doing what she loved helped her not focus on the war but look forward to when Great-Granddad came home.
Finally, all this advice was sinking into my brain. Get out of the house, try new things, utilize all Military group support, and find out what I loved. I realized how fortunate I was to have the ability to talk to my husband on the telephone, email him all the time, and even do a video chat every now and then. Our Military Veterans and Spouses didn’t always have these luxuries, but the same emotions that I experience today were felt by them yesterday.
I return back to that newscaster’s remark from years ago. The Military technology has changed, but Grandpa and his family know more about today’s Military experience than we realize!
I’m a mother and Military Spouse, and we are currently stationed at Fort Belvoir, VA. I was born and raised in Kentucky. I received my bachelor’s degree in history from the Fayetteville State University. I currently work for AAFMAA, doing what I love to do, helping out our active duty and retired Veterans and their families.