We set Veteran’s Day to honor our veterans. Thank you for your service is appropriate to say to these soldiers and appreciated. I wonder if the average Joe American understands the sacrifices the soldiers and their families endure. I wonder if they could stay strong!
There is constant upheaval in the military life. If your sponsor (the service member) is not about to be deployed it is probably because they have just returned from a remote assignment or your whole family will be PCSing (Permanent Change of Station). Sometimes you know six months in advance about the forthcoming move. Often, it is time to move but have no certainty about where you will be moving. The service member is given written orders to report to a duty station on a certain day. In the military, orders can be rescinded up to the time you arrive at your new place.
Once your household goods arrive you typically are locked into staying put for a year. However, that doesn’t mean the sponsor won’t be deployed, or sent away for months to schools to prepare for being deployed. One time we were in Panama, and got orders to Fort Rucker, AL. We were so excited because all my family lived in that area. We took a quick trip up to Alabama and put a bid on a home. It was the home I had been praying about for years. The bid was accepted.
A few months later, we arrived with suitcases, a three-year-old, and a basset hound. We signed for the house and waited for the movers to bring our household goods. My husband, the service member, left to run an errand and the phone rang. I thought it might be the second set of movers trying to get directions. They were due to arrive any moment.
The female voice identified herself as my husband’s Department of the Army assignments office. I thought, this is odd, why would she be calling? I told her he had just left and asked if I could take a message. She informed me that he would be receiving a change to his orders and be stationed in Kentucky. I just stared out my new front door. Stunned but not surpised.
I realized she was still talking when I checked out. I said, “Ma’am, we just bought a house here near Fort Rucker.”
She said it didn’t matter they would be changing his orders and that she was very sorry. She was sorry?! I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. She was still talking and I checked back in again. I told her thank you for calling but I needed to go the movers had just arrived.
“Excuse me?” Now it was her turn to be taken off guard.
“Yes, the movers are here with our second load of household goods.”
There was a long pause, then she said “Tell him to disregard the change in orders. Once your household goods have arrived in your home, we must leave you in place for a year. Thank you for your time. Goodbye.” Click.
Is that all it took? Our stuff had arrived. I was never so grateful to see boxes and boxes of glorious stuff that kept us grounded in one place. Then I realized it was only a reprieve not a total cancellation of what could happen in a year.
That was one phone call. One moment of extreme stress. Military members are faced with separation, worry for their soldiers, and worry for the family back home, stressful work environments, and physical and mental requirements to perform. They also carry all the duties of a typical family with finances, childcare, activities, and so much more. They often work long hours. They have no say in how long they will be at work, while their family wonders if they should hold dinner or go on without them one more time.
Children and spouses feel the stress. It is almost normal to be on high alert. But we know that is not how God created families. The stress of deployments often brings back soldiers who are vastly different from when they departed. The unit says they will be gone six months which turns into nine or maybe longer. The unknown and the inability to change the outcome are taxing on your emotions, your spirit, and your physical body. It is hard to explain to a four-year-old why Daddy can’t come home to play with them before bed.
This sounds rough. It is rough.
You say, the military member has chosen this life. That is true but their children never had a choice. No one knows the difficulty of all the sacrifices, big and small before they swear an oath to protect our country.
But in the end, the end of the day, the end of their careers, most military members, their spouses and children would say. . . . “Hooah! We would do it all over again.”
This military lifestyle is only truly understood by those who have experienced it, is one of the greatest opportunities to live free, to live as an American patriot, and to live with an amazing global view. These families know what honor, trust, sacrifice, patriotism, and freedom cost.
Thank you, Veterans. Thank you, Spouses. Thank you Military Brats.
Not just today, do you have my gratitude, but every day I wake up in this free country! You are not forgotten. Stay strong. Stay Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and Air Force Strong. Our nation owes you the highest respect.
God has his hand on each of you. Your part matters. God has designed you uniquely for the task you have been given. Not everyone is built to be a Military Family!