Marrying into the military often changes the way you think and view the world. It forces you to see things from a different perspective. Life decisions have to be made instantly, responsibilities and expectations have to shift rapidly and long distance relationships are the norm, not the exception.
Aside from learning to be more patient and independent, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a military spouse is that family doesn’t have to be related to you by blood. We find them at each duty station — those individuals with open arms and kind hearts, who share their home, their love and friendship, and make sure no one feels forgotten.
They’re our military family.
After a short courtship and engagement and a quick wedding, moving to my husband’s duty station was nerve-racking. I knew nothing about military life, or what it meant to be married to someone in the armed services. I was in love, and that was all that mattered, until we arrived and it became apparent I was out of my element, and far away from anyone or anywhere that was familiar.
But, it didn’t matter. I was with family, now — my military family. My husband’s co-workers and their spouses welcomed me with open arms. I was part of the club, this special group of people brought together by chance and circumstance. Within days, I was a part of the phone tree. If I ever needed anything, there was someone there to make sure I had help with it.
It was shocking that people who barely knew me were going out of their way to make me feel welcomed and comfortable in my new home.
Our first holiday away from home was Easter, and we were invited, along with anyone else in the platoon without plans, for dinner at a friend’s house. It was amazing to see them welcome so many of us into their home for what is normally a family-oriented holiday.
We gathered together throughout the year, and I remember stopping and taking in the scene on Thanksgiving—over a dozen people stood in groups talking, laughing and enjoying the day, a day normally celebrated with blood relatives. And, yet, here we were, creating our own family tree.
In the short 10 months I had known them, these people had become my family — my military family.
Military life definitely has its moments where I’m left feeling frustrated and disappointed, but it has also given me something incredibly valuable: family. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.