There are a few phrases that will leave a spouse utterly speechless, the one for our current situation: “They put me in for the Med Board”. *GULP* 12 years in the Infantry, 4 deployments (the last one brought him home early due to injury), 3 PCS moves, countless field rotations and schools, now staring down the bullet of retirement.
He’s a ‘lifer’, WE were lifers. The kids and I have always been very involved in his career and have always taken great pride in what he does. This doesn’t shadow that at all, but it is going to be a HUGE change. As we have begun telling our friends and family outside the military community what’s going on, the general response has been supportive, but I don’t think many people understand why we are all so terrified to leave this life. After talking to a few others who have been in our shoes, I realize we definitely aren’t the only ones having issues with the transition.
I don’t think people really realize how all-encompassing the military can be. That this isn’t just ‘a job’, this is ‘A Life’. This is our world. It’s all we know as adults (for our family, at least). We literally grew up in the Army. We were adults when he joined, but were still so young and naive. Now, holy cow, now it seems so much more time has passed than what really has. There is a saying that the Army doubles your age, and I really believe that to be true. We may only be 29 +some, but the things we’ve done and experiences we’ve had have added years to our hearts, minds and bodies. And yes, I say ‘we’ because Lord knows I may not have been on the front lines fighting, but I’ve seen the torture and loss on the homefront.
It’s so hard to explain how terrifying it is to leave all this behind and enter the normal workforce. Where you clock in and clock out, you don’t need your ID to buy a bottled water at the convenience store, you dont need a special form to file your military taxes, and you don’t have to have a special decal on your car just to go to work or home. Our kids can’t quite believe that they will be the new kids for a considerable amount of time once we move, and they really can’t grasp that people stay in one home their entire lives. That posting a flag on your home is rarely done, save for Memorial Day and July 4th. (We, of course, will proudly wave our flag 365 days a year).
Yes, we all have a lot of adjusting to do in what feels to be a very short amount of time. Life is about to become rather complicated and terrifying, and only those who live in our world can understand our fears. So I ask you this, if you have ever been in our shoes, what piece of advice can you offer? How can we best prepare our family for this transition? And lastly, is it as scary on the outside as we think it is? (Crazy right, that we think civilian life is more scary than deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan?)
Feel free to comment and offer any helpful advice you may have. I am sure we aren’t the only ones going through this, and you never know who you can help by speaking up! Thanks, fans!