On Veteran's Day: What It Means to Raise a Child in the MilitaryDiana Stone
Since our daughter was a year old, her dad has been in the Army. Before she entered our lives, he was in the Marines for 4 years.
The military has always played one of the biggest roles in changing our lives. Nearly everything we do revolves around Sam’s job. As a military family, it’s more than just a 9-5 job. It’s more like 4 am-6 pm, 5 to 6 days a week, with 24 hour shifts, weeks of training away from home, and the knowledge of sudden deployment.
Sam signed up for this, twice, fully knowing the expectations and sacrifices he would and might be expected to make. I encouraged him to stay with the life he loves as a Marine, and now soldier.
This job provides us with benefits, pay, and time off for the overwhelming needs we’ve had these past 18 months. He has job security, and we have a incredible support system. We get to move to new places and make friends all over the country. Even when things are hard and separation times are long, I’ve never regretted this life of ours.
Raising Bella as a military child means she’ll always know all of this as well. She’s hugged him goodbye as he leaves for a few months, and understands that her nights with him are short because of the military. He’s good about squeezing in quality time with her every chance he gets.
Sam doesn’t expect or look for thanks for what he’s done. A tour in Iraq in the middle of the war where he saw friends killed and pulled out bodies to bring home, and years on end going from country to country. He still has shrapnel in him, his hearing is affected by the war, and his PTSD nearly ended our marriage years ago.
What we want is for our daughter to be one of the children who recognizes that although this life is a choice, it’s also a sacrifice. We want her to see that young soldier sitting in an airport and thank them for his or her service. That touches both of us deeply – we’ve never forgotten the people, but especially children, that walk up to Sam in uniform and shake his hand. I want her to understand that she will never know how much someone in uniform may have been asked to give up in order to do his or her job.
Raising a child in the military means teaching her to be aware of others who serve too. In many capacities. We are thankful for those that serve, and those who recognize what this choice could mean.
Photo courtesy of JenSwedhinPhotography.com
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, Still Standing Magazine, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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