If you ask the wife of a military serviceman to give one piece of advice, she’d probably say, “Don’t write anything on the calendar in pen.”
Unlike civilians, military personnel are never guaranteed to witness the graduations, weddings, proms, holidays or even the birth of a child while they’re serving our country.
As hard as it is on the person suiting up for deployment, the loss of a partner over months, sometimes years at a time, weighs heavily on the support system they leave at home.
But throughout the history of our country, millions of military spouses have handled the daily stresses of life with little recognition outside of close family and friends.
Shiana Moore, whose husband, Morgan, is stationed at Naval Station Mayport, said, “I can’t stand being separated from Morgan. Everyone knows it. I had an old boss of mine tell me he saw me crying in my car before work. We’re a team. We weren’t made to be apart from one another.”
“When Morgan is here, stress dissipates. It puts my heart at peace. He’s safe. Everyone is happy. When he’s gone, I feel like I’m taking on more than I can handle. It’s so hard. I have people on speed dial. I hired 14 husbands, one for the lawn, one for the plumbing and one for any other job I can’t handle by myself.”
It’s the longing for your teammate that leads many military spouses to rely on each other. Affectionately called “MilSos” for “military significant others,” these groups have formed all across the country to help spouses confide in and relate to someone going through the same daily struggles every military spouse experiences.
Kalli Kearney, a 22-year-old local who’s engaged to her high school sweetheart, RJ, that is currently stationed in North Carolina, said, “I chose to love my fiancé and support his dream of serving our country, but I certainly did not choose to be away from him all the time or to be in constant worry that our country will go to war or when he will deploy. I had to realize early in the game that nothing is set in stone and everything is subject to change. The military is very unpredictable and you will do a lot of ‘hurry up and waiting.’ So, expecting nothing and being grateful for everything has become my motto.”
Leigh Ann Purvines, 21, married her husband, Carter, who’s away on deployment, said life in the military isn’t always as glamorous as it seems.
“Most people have a false reality of what military life is like,” she said. “Yes, the military gives a housing allowance and provides great health insurance, but no matter how many benefits there are, any military spouse would trade it all just to spend one more minute with their spouse. No amount of money can replace the emptiness a spouse has to feel while their significant other is gone.”
Moore reiterated the love and sacrifice the spouses go through.
“They are heroes in their own right. The sailor signed a commitment, but when you get married, you sign up, too,” she said. “It’s hard when all you want is the normalcy of sharing a life together. Sometimes the communication shuts down and you can’t even get an email through. But spouses keep trucking, raising kids, keeping their minds occupied until they see that ship coming back in.”
During the time away, all three women stressed the importance of staying as busy as possible to avoid falling into a depression. But they also feel like they have it easier than past generations because of the technology available today.
“Technology has been a wonderful advancement for military families in our generation and has enhanced greatly their ability to stay connected while they are away for extended periods of time. My uncle is a retired marine, and he and my aunt tell me all the time about his deployment during Desert Storm and how hard it was for them to communicate, waiting weeks and weeks for just one letter,” Kearney said.
No matter how challenging some days may seem, most military spouses wouldn’t change their decision to support their spouse because they know they’re fighting an even greater battle.
“The most important thing MilSos have taught me is to be strong, to be strong for myself but most importantly, be strong for my husband,” Purvines said. “He’s going through a lot worse than me, and I am still at home living a semi-normal life, so it is important for me to be strong and supportive toward him.”
For more information on how you can help military families, visit OperationHomefront.net