Today is Veterans Day, and I am indeed proud. I served, as did many of my friends, family, and other loved ones. We all made sacrifices to wear the cloth of this great Nation.
Although most people associate military service with combat—and that is absolutely a significant part of the mission—there are other parts of serving that don’t always get the proper recognition.
In this article, I recognize those parts. I salute our Nation’s veterans, and their families, for their service and sacrifices in combat, as well for the following:
Sure, it can appear glamorous to move around and live overseas. There are definitely advantages to seeing and experiencing the world. However, finding a comfortable, affordable place to live that your family will enjoy, that will accommodate your household goods without having to put half of it in storage, can be a challenge. The days and energy it can take to house hunt can be overwhelming.
And just when you start getting comfortable in your home; personally painted and decorated every room; and celebrated precious holidays, birthdays, and other memorable events, you have to leave that home and find another one. And, hopefully, your family can move with you (it’s not always guaranteed).
Working across various agencies in different positions can be incredibly rewarding. However, there is also a downside that people don’t always see.
Have you ever job hunted? Do you know how long it can take to find a job? Anywhere from six months to three years or longer. Service members have their jobs, at least until their contract expires, but family members have to find their own employment. And if you didn’t realize this, if a service member’s family isn’t “situated,” neither is the service member.
Changing jobs every 1-3 years affects the family members’ job promotions, salary, and career trajectory. It could speed it up, but it can also slow it down significantly.
Leaving Friends Behind
Another positive aspect of being in the military is meeting new people and developing lifelong friendships. But you also have to physically leave those friends behind when you move. Or, they leave you behind when they move.
It’s tough. I’ve seen how it impacts youth when they have to change schools and friends, but it’s also difficult for adults. There’s a special bond amongst the military community. We look out for each other. We have the same overall mission, and endure many of the same challenges. So the bond developed with others in the military community is significant.
Separation from Family of Origin
Unless you have moved away from your entire family of origin, you don’t understand this sadness and guilt. Missing birthdays, births, weddings, and other milestones, life goes on without you.
Your nieces and nephews are born, raised, and launched into the world before you know it. You might miss funerals, graduations, and other important events because you can’t get off duty.
When you’re in the military, you can’t be “home” for every event. You do the best you can, but it’s just not possible to be at everything.
I have only scratched the surface here. I could write a book on what veterans and their families endure.
So, on this Veterans Day, I salute all veterans and their families, and I will continue to appreciate them tomorrow, the next day, and the next day, forevermore.