Amidst the chaos of yet another cross country move, my active duty husband of 13 years sweetly convinced me to ‘treat’ myself.
In doing so, I met a lady at the beauty shop the other day. I sat in the chair next to her and immediately found out that her husband was retiring in a year or two, and that her son recently joined the military as an officer as well.
These happen to be my favorite types of interactions. Not for any other reason but to learn from others who have withstood the test of time in a place where I believe that our time should be measured in dog years. It is no secret that time moves fast for any family, but I am convinced that military time moves a little bit faster.
Skipping all formalities we spoke as if we had known each other for years. I loved it. I could try to explain to the everyday civilian, who may happen to be: my friend, family, or colleague, about who we are and what we do to ‘keep it together’ but honestly,- This life we live is so complex, that it is unexplainable.
Most of the time when the general public hears that we are military spouses, we are told to, “Please thank your husband for his service.” A heartfelt “Thank You. I will. It means a lot to us!” Is usually given back in reply. A sense of pride and accomplishment is felt for this. You see, We signed up to be the ‘support’. We are the ‘dependents’, that is what our military ID says, and we are proud of it!
When I am in the company of what I like to call a ‘veteran military spouse’, there are no formalities. We are all living in the agreement that our spouses are amazing. It is why we give so much of ourselves. We believe in what they do, are in awe of their sense of duty, and the accomplishments of their tasks.
A military spouse is proud to begin conversations by sharing ‘hi-light notes’ of our military members careers. Not because we are lacking in any way, many of us are educated, with notable careers of our own, but simply because their feats are just that selfless, thus making them all the more praise-worthy.
Immediately veteran spouses have things in common such as: Duty stations, B billets, bootcamp stories, recruiting, drill, deployments that may have once brought us to our knees, and now bring us to the most comforting belly-deep “We survived that!” type of laughter.
The mention of our childhood state or home become the only real distant past, as we immerse ourselves in all of the unknown lands that we happen to land on, lavishly explore and live in the duration of a military career.
We discuss thriving, or how we barely survived at times. We share pictures of our children exploring in places that most people are lucky to visit.
All while celebrating life with an urgent sense of intensity.- For the celebration of life becomes a distinct priority when everything is new, time is always limited, and the possibility of death is very clearly written within our military members job description. In my opinion all of us have lived best selling novel stories that I would read and re-read.
As I listened, laughed and connected with this otherwise random stranger, another story began to emerge. One of the ‘supporter’ being the major ‘constant’ within all of the variables. The ‘impact absorber’ for years on so many different levels, providing a most necessary cushion for the entire family unit.
“Don’t worry Babe, We’ve got this… Just do what you have to do, so that you can come home.” Or “Honey, you are going to have another awesome year no matter what school you go to, because you are amazing!”
We are literally ‘Home is where the heart is’ for we may just live in a different house every year for years at a time, and make every single one a home on short notice and a ‘temporary’ budget. Filling it with love, laughter, great achievements and a collection of very permanent lifelong memories along the way.
We are the ‘Veteran Dependents’. Most of us have done all of this without the roots of extended family or a long term community, not for lack of effort on anyone’s part, because our families and communities love us and they try tirelessly to support us. We know this, but we are also aware that many of these changes are geographically difficult to keep up with, and a little bit confusing as well. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge, and give a big heartfelt “Thank you!” to our friends and families. We really do appreciate your every effort.
I realized, we carry a card that labels us as the ‘dependent’. Although we are the most ‘independent’ people that I have ever met! A pillar of strength, unconditional love, encouragement and stability in every way.
No matter where we may end up in time and location, regardless of: Age, race, military branches, religion, gender etc… Whenever I run into a veteran military spouse, in many ways I know this person intimately, and they know me.
Military spouses do stick together. We are never really alone. A military spouse threw my first baby shower for me, promised to be there with me in the delivery room if my husband did not make it home on time, has almost always filled the ‘my emergency contact’ spot for my family, and done so lovingly, many times offering before I have had to ask. Barbecues, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmases. When we are not ‘Home’ with mom and dad, we are still ‘home’ with each other.
The stranger getting a pedicure next to me felt like no stranger at all. She is the family and friend in a place when I have neither. I feel accomplishment in her success as a mother, a wife and a career woman. I sympathize and rejoice with her because I understand her life as she does mine. I am glad my husband talked me into treating myself. The real ‘treat’ was her company, and the gift of what looks to be another lifelong friend and supporter.
About the Author
Aliyah Meehan BSBA is a Military Spouse, a mother, the Founder and CEO of TRM Assessments, and the Director of Family Engagement at Sandboxx.