My husband and I made the best decision (so far) of his military career in 2014. After returning from an eight month deployment in June, he was assigned to 8 weeks of training beginning in August.
We have 2 school aged children, 5 pets, and I have a full-time job. My husband was due to report for training out of state mid-August (a week after the kids’ school started.) Our summer was filled with a family vacation, visits from relatives, and major re-adjustment to being a full family of four. We ended up with 12 visitors and only 2 weekends out of the summer with no house-guests. Two weeks before my husband was about to leave for training, we looked at each other one afternoon and grimaced over the fact that he was having to leave again. It felt as though we were finally reintegrated and settled and he was about to leave again. He was devastated over leaving the kids, missing our 6 year olds 5th birthday in a row, and being separated from the family again. It was possible for us to accompany him on this particular TDY, but because of the time of school-year, my work, and other responsibilities, we decided to stay home instead. That afternoon, everything shifted. We made a huge decision. We decided to stay together regardless of what that meant for other things in our life.
The decision to pick up and accompany him on this TDY came with a lot of unknowns. Where were we going to live? What were we going to do about school? What was I going to do about work? How were we going to manage our house in our hometown? What to do about our pets? The questions seemed to continue to pile up. I insisted on persevering. After the lunchtime decision to accompany him, I immediately got on the phone with a leasing agency and started hunting down temporary housing. I called our kids’ school and the School Liaison Officer at both bases to make sure we could manage school. We batted around ideas of home-schooling temporarily, but because of my job it wasn’t plausible. I coordinated with my immediate supervisor to work remotely while we were out of town. Mostly, I dedicated my life to keeping my family together.
I’m always amazed with how resilient Military kids seem to be. We were able to make this temporary move because we had kids who were only in elementary school. It most likely wouldn’t have been possible if they were older, but we took advantage of the situation we were in. We made the best of the situation and decided to persevere in spite of the more difficult circumstances. I think the people this move was the hardest on was the kids. They had to leave their friends at home, adjust to a new school, and then leave that school after only 2 months. We talked and talked and talked some more with them. We discussed the fact that it was only temporary but making this move meant we got to stay with Dad. Our daughter did struggle with the changes in work-load at school, but she thrived in spite of it all. Resilience is a topic we often discuss in our home. We talk about common strategies that are taught by the Air Force. Intentionally staying positive is something we talk about often. My daughter made sure to bring a wall-hanging I made for her with the Air Force BRAT acronym spelled out. That reminder was something worth packing for her.
The Military Tribe
Without the support of other military families, our temporary move would not have been possible. Once the decision was made, I immediately hit Facebook to reach out for help with our pets and care of our home while we were gone. I was able to connect with Project Evergreen to care for our yard. I found another military family to care for our pets, and I relied on a neighbor to care for our home. Our Tribe stuck together. Without the built in support of other military families, my family could not have stuck together. We relied on relationships we had developed through contacts made and friendships strengthened as a result of the military. We make sure to give back to “the Tribe” and were blessed to have this help returned when we needed it so desperately.