The saying begins, “Behind every successful man…” and the next words are always, “IS A WOMAN.” The endings vary, yet it’s clear that women hold a vital role in our world. This is especially true about military wives.
The impact of the military has been on my mind because next week, we’re going to South Carolina for a retirement ceremony. My husband’s son, Scott, has spent the past twenty years serving our country in the Army, complete with three deployments: two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Scott’s job as an MP involved handling dogs who sniff out bombs. You can imagine how proud we are of his service.
Linda, Scott’s wife, is the woman BESIDE her man rather the one behind him. She gave up her own career in the Air Force to help build their family. She is an example of a strong military wife who has lived by the motto: “Put on your big girl panties and quit your whining!” We’re equally proud of Linda’s grit, perseverance and ability to get things done for her family.
One example comes to mind when they moved back to the states from Germany a couple years ago. While Scott finished his assignment, Linda was responsible for the safe delivery of their three children, two big dogs, a cat and the luggage; then when they arrived at their new home, she directed moving in and getting the kids settled in school.
I asked her about the rewards of military life, and this is what she told me:
“I would have to say the reward of the military is traveling the world. I was in the Air Force for six years so I did my fair share of traveling before marrying Scott. I was in Missouri, Texas, Japan, Turkey, New York, New Jersey, and Canada. With Scott we’ve been to Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and South Carolina.”
There’s nothing like travel to give you a vision of the depth and diversity of the world. For those who move a lot, and especially for those living a military life, that means transplanting your life somewhere else every two or three years. One learns to let go of the past, quickly settle into the present and establish the direction of the short term future.
Those of us who are not military wives will never really understand what it’s like. Linda told me:
“There are plenty of challenges. I have lots of time alone and with several deployments I was raising kids alone. It’s tough becoming a single parent on a whim when the military decides to send your husband away. I run the household alone and we’ve planned family vacations that had to go on even when we were one person short.
“My career and educational goals get put on hold—with lots of starts and stops—due to deployments and TDY’s. Learning to live paycheck to paycheck because you can’t find a job right away in the new town can also be difficult.”
There’s a blog written by Evie and Sarah called MerelyMothers, confirming Linda’s experiences; the post lists what makes the military wives’ situation unique. Most notably is the difficulty in keeping the marriage healthy, the kids’ emotion stable and your own sanity in tact. (See
”http://www.evieandsarah.com/ten-things-military-wives-probably-dont-want-know/ for the whole story). That’s why close girl friends vital—and not just for military wives, but for all of us!
After hearing more about Linda’s life, I can see why she is confidence when she speaks and why, for example, after meals, her oldest sons get up from the table to clear and wash the dishes without even being told! Their systems of family organization (most likely developed over the years) work.
When I asked her about the future, she told me:
“The future should be interesting to say the least. I am excited but also nervous; my anxiety has kicked up a notch this past week. With all the ups and downs of being in the military it’s all I’ve known.
“I joined the service two weeks after I graduated high school in June of 1994. I got out to follow Scott and his career in 2003, so I’ve never been away from it. The military gives you a lot to manage, but a lot of stability.
“You can always see the doctor and get surgeries if needed without paying a dime. We pay a small amount of money every month from Scott’s paycheck for insurance. The rate is hard to beat. You know you’re getting a paycheck every two weeks, even if it’s tiny, and sometimes gone a week before the next one comes. So it should be interesting.
“My kids were all born on military bases: Justin was born at Lackland AFB, TX and Kody was born at Ft. Benning, GA. Tyler, my oldest son is excited too. He was born into the military in ’97 at Yokota AB, Japan. Now that Scott is retiring,Tyler is finally leaving the military to go to college. All of the boys are military brats and are so used to moving every three years, it will be interesting to see how the whole family adjusts.”
As women, we are optimistic about Linda’s new life and know that the skills she’s honed through her military experience, both as an Air Force airman and an Army wife, will serve as stepping stones to enable her to face any and all challenges with grace, poise and, of course, a new pair of big girl panties.
Thanks for your service, Linda and Scott!
May your self-trust build confidence,