I typically don’t write about my family’s military lifestyle, simply because it’s hard for me to find a difference between our lifestyle and the civilian lifestyle. My perspective on life is shaded by the military, but I don’t know what civilian life is really like, so I don’t know how the life our family leads is too different from other families’ lifestyles.
Recently, I was driving across the military installation, when my son asked, “Mommy, why doesn’t Daddy drive those trucks?” He was pointing to the military humvees parked in their designated lot. While every soldier maintains a level of mission readiness, and is a “soldier-first,” they all have different jobs in the military – some drive trucks, others cook, others work in the legal field, and still others work in medical clinics. Some soldiers work heavily with munitions, and others jump out of planes and helicopters (although not every day). So, I threw out to my son, “Well, Daddy didn’t get that special job for the Army. He has another special job.”
About thirty minutes later, my son asked me, “Mommy, do we have a special job for the Army?” That is when I realized our lifestyle is different from our civilian counterparts.
I affirmed him that we definitely do have a special job. Our job, as military dependents and family members of a soldier include, but are definitely not limited to:
- Staying strong when our soldier is gone. It doesn’t mean we can’t be sad, because that is completely normal. But, it does mean we can keep track of each other, and ourselves, and take care of each other until our soldier comes home. This helps our soldier know that everything is okay, when he can’t be home to make sure things are running smoothly;
- Working hard to be kind to everyone, and to make friends everywhere we go – we never know when we’ll need friends who become like family in the event of a crisis;
- Being supportive of our soldier, recognizing that when he’s gone, it’s not because he wants to be gone, but instead is because he is out keeping our country safe. And, he does it because he loves his family and his country;
- Praying for our soldier, the other soldiers, and the leaders of this country – all too often, people have a tendency to forget service members are literally committed to laying down their lives for complete strangers. The decision to engage our service members are never decisions which should be made lightly, because there is always a risk that service members will not come home alive. So, our special job is to pray – for the people making the heavy decisions, and for the safety of our soldier.
As my son and I discussed our jobs, I realized these jobs are probably not ones civilian families consider.
Our family certainly doesn’t expect sympathy for our lifestyle. But, it does shape how we operate – the emphasis we place on family, on strengthening and supporting each other, and ultimately, our faith.
Tell me – what jobs did I miss for military families? What special jobs would you say civilian families have?