Breakfast was delicious and as I headed up to the cashier to pay, I couldn’t help but feel thankful to have a local diner near us again. After being stationed in South Korea for two years, we missed a good ole American breakfast out with our family. But after one simple question, the happiness I felt was about to be ripped out of me and replaced with anger and frustration. As a military spouse I have been through this scenario a handful of times; it stings just as much every single time.
South Korea was by far the toughest military move we have experienced to date, and we have quite a few under our belt. It was filled with multiple challenges. Everything from living in the countryside where only a handful of the locals spoke English, to not being able to read the vast majority of anything around us was challenging. We were unable to quickly ask for directions when lost, which was more often than not. Unable to strike up conversations with other moms at the park, we were almost always the only English speakers there. Difficult to find my way around the local grocery store or even recognize what an item was.
South Korea was also one of the most rewarding duty stations we have ever been. When you are forced to step outside of all that you know as normal, your mind is instantly expanded. Koreans have a culture that is rich with an appreciation for quality time and traditions spent with family. They are a very honest and hardworking culture that lacks the extreme violence that we face in the USA. Korean food is some of the most flavorful, delicious and nutrient-rich I have come by, and it is grown on every square inch of available land. Even small pockets of space are fruitful with produce peeking out of the ground.
I was sad yet also excited when it was our time to return to the states. The move was long and tedious and adjusting to being back in the states took time. My kiddos are adjusting to yet another new teacher. My middle child ended up with the short end of the stick this round, it’s unfortunate but it happens. Turns out when you are a military family the service member isn’t the only one making sacrifices. Military families are very aware of this fact, and unfortunately most others can’t comprehend the complexity of our lifestyle.
The family was headed out to breakfast to begin a day of birthday celebrations for our middle child. We started the day off extra special by heading to this local diner. We had plans to fuel up, head off to a nearby town and continue our day of fun. It is now three months since we had arrived back stateside and by no means were we out of the woods of relocation adjustments.
Breakfast was delicious and we were having a great time. As we finished up eating, I went up front to pay. This is when things got a bit murky. As I handed over the ticket I asked if they offered a military discount.
The cashier looked up at me and said, “Yes, but only for the service member.”
I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
You see, it’s not about the money. Honestly, we would have only saved a few dollars at most. The discount represents appreciation and acknowledgment of all our family sacrifices. But when I am told as a military spouse I do not get a discount, it makes me feel as if all I endure in this lifestyle goes unnoticed. That all my children endure is not seen.
I know my husband is a soldier. I know he puts his life on the line countless times. I am not taking away from this, and I appreciate their acknowledgment of his service. I also believe spouses and families serve our country as well, it’s just in entirely different ways.
I realize if you are not in this lifestyle it’s easy to miss this. What we often don’t share, is all the pieces us military spouses have to pick up.
Missed birthdays, anniversaries, school functions, minor and major holidays.
The daily fear we become accustomed to harboring inside of us when our service members are deployed.
Rocking kids back to sleep in the middle of the night sobbing from a nightmare because, “when is Daddy coming home?”
Teachers who don’t understand why our child is acting up when they just had a vital piece of their life ripped away….again.
To say this lifestyle is not for the faint of heart is putting it mildly. Please, continue to support and thank all service members. But, next time, please stop and consider the rest of the family, as well.
What I would love to instill in hearts and minds is that military families all sacrifice and serve our country by supporting our service members.