May is Military Appreciation Month!
With Memorial Day (May 29), Victory in Europe Day (May 8), and Armed Forces Day (May 20) celebrated in this month, it makes May a perfect month to highlight our nation’s military and the families that support them.
My family has a long legacy of military service members, with my dad, my husband, and my sons all serving in the military. The life lessons I’ve taken away from growing up in a military family have been invaluable. I’ve met new people from all over the world, lived in many diverse locations, and had the privilege of experiencing the day-to-day life of different cultures.
To honor military spouses during Military Appreciation Month, they set aside Military Spouse Appreciation Day this year on Friday, May 12.
Military spouses play a vital role in supporting and encouraging their active-duty spouses and are often the behind-the-scenes stability and structure during deployments and moves.
Along with providing a source of stability for the home, military spouses are resourceful, patient, and resilient. That resiliency is needed even more when the service member receives orders and is assigned to a new base.
The weeks leading up to a move are hectic and emotional–nobody wants to leave their family, friends, and church behind, but as spouses, that’s what is required of us.
Thankfully, connections are somewhat easy to maintain through social media and email, but saying goodbye to a life you’ve grown accustomed to is still difficult.
Whether you drive or fly to your new location, the trek will be chalked full of experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime. If you’ve never had a moving truck overheat on the side of the road, lived in TLF (temporary lodging facility), or eaten a holiday meal at the base chapel, did you really ever experience a military move?
My husband and I still look back on some of our moves and wonder how we made it to our new location unscathed.
However, after I have unpacked all the boxes, the real journey is just beginning. You’ll need to make new friends, navigate an unfamiliar city, find a place to live, and if you’re working, begin at the bottom rung of a new career. Also, if you have children, you’ll need to make sure you remain the family’s anchor to help your children transition into their new lives, schools, and sometimes even a new culture.
For me, I always approached each new move as a new adventure. The moves weren’t easy, but they were an excellent time to recalibrate and start fresh.
My daughter-in-law Miranda shares a snapshot of her take on the life of a military spouse after my son, who serves in the Air Force, received orders to PCS (permanent change of station).
One of the cool things about being a military spouse is the moving. Some people wouldn’t agree but for me personally, I love it. One day you’re planning your future at your current job, and the next day your spouse comes home from work and says, ‘We’re moving to the other side of the U.S.’
Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
That is exactly what happened when we were living in Virginia. My husband called me while he was away on deployment and said, “We’re moving to California in October” I said “ok” and immediately googled where the nearest Trader Joe’s was.
He got home from his deployment in August and had to be on the road for California in a month. Thankfully, we were still newlyish married and living in a studio apartment, with very few belongings.
We decided to make the trek to California one to remember. We had planned it to take about 20 days to get there.
We woke up on day one of our trek and headed toward Mississippi to visit my family. We stayed for about a week and ate lots of seafood and Whataburger while we were there.
Our next stop was Louisiana to visit my mom. We went to the Red River Revel and visited our old stomping grounds from high school. The next stop was in Oklahoma to visit my family-in-law. We walked around Oklahoma City and I fell in love. Fingers crossed, we get stationed there at some point.
We made a few smaller stops along the way, driving through Colorado Springs to visit family down in Arizona, then headed toward San Diego. While we were there, we visited La Jolla Beach and saw some seals sunbathing. By this point in our trip, we were wiped out with 2 days left out of the 20.
We were ready to be in our new home.
We made it to Fresno, slept, and headed toward our “new” home as fast as we could.
We made it to our new home after 20 days of traveling and while it was exhausting; it was the trip of a lifetime. We started a new chapter of our lives together with a coast-to-coast road trip visiting all our family along the way.
Military life has its challenges, but those challenges lead to memories. And those memories will last a lifetime.
Today, as you think about Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I challenge you to reach out to a military family and extend a hand of friendship.
You never know, you might meet someone like my son and daughter-in-law who have just traveled coast-to-coast and could use your knowledge of navigating an unfamiliar city.
Or more than that, could just use a new friend.