When my husband first enlisted in the Air Force in 2004, it was not because he wanted to serve his country. In fact he was one of those “I really don’t like the military and their rules” type. His reason for joining was because he wanted to take care of his family (we were dating and I was pregnant) and he knew that I had wanted to serve. In fact when I met him I had just gotten home from basic training for the Army, due to a bunch of paperwork mistakes by my recruiter, I ended up being discharged. He knew how much being able to serve meant to me, that I longed to be a part of the military family. Heck, I enlisted as a medic and I cannot stand the sight of blood, but it was what I felt drawn to do.
Now let’s fast forward to July of 2005, when he left for basic training, we were now married and our oldest daughter was 5 months old. He was still unsure of whether the choice was the right one for us, but he had made a commitment and was going to stick to it. He ended basic training and tech school with a greater appreciation for those that serve, but was still questioning if what he was doing was the right thing or not. It was not until he went to training for his deployment in 2006, that he came home knowing he was going to be leaving me home with a toddler while pregnant with our second child, that he was sure this is what he wanted in life. He had always dreamed of working in Law Enforcement. When he came home from the pre-deployment training he said to me, “I now know this is my calling, and I am glad I made the choice to enlist”.
We will fast forward again to December 2007, when he got home from his deployment. He was sent home early for two reasons; one, he had dislocated his shoulder while deployed and two, I was diagnosed as a high risk pregnancy. While both of us fought for him to stay on his deployment knowing that is where he belonged, the final choice was not ours to make, the Red Cross and the Air Force stepped in and he was sent home. It was the second time that I heard him talk about how proud he was to be a member of the military. This time I was even more shocked because he said while leaving us at home stunk, he would deploy again in a heartbeat because of what it meant, that serving his country gave him a pride he never knew until now.
Again I am going to fast forward to October of 2010, almost 4 years since his shoulder injury. Countless bumps in the road with surgery and recovery, there is no sign of it being 100% better. We are faced with him being med boarded and put on temporary medical retirement. While discussing this change with him about no longer being active duty, the part that seemed to upset him the most was that he was not able to fulfill the commitment he made to his country. Ironically he made that commitment not being 100% sure it was the right choice for him or for our family.
At this point we had 3 children and any change this major affected us all. My children, while young (the older two I should say because the youngest was still a baby), know the sense of pride wearing the uniform and what serving our country means. We understood that even though he’d no longer be active duty, that pride of being a part of the military family would shine forever.
Another fast forward to now, after many struggles with paperwork, VA issues, and other countless things that we are still battling, I could begin to see why a person might question their original choice of joining the military. I was shocked the other day when I asked him, “If you had the chance to go back to Active Duty would you?” and his answer was without a second thought “Yes.”
No matter how one becomes a part of the military, be it a lifelong dream or a choice they made to support their family, no matter the bumps in the road, or daily stresses of the military, the pride that comes from being a part of that is amazing. I can honestly say I never thought I would hear my husband say he wanted to do a full 20 years, considering when he left for basic he had a countdown till the end of his enlistment. But the pride and sense of family the military gives is one that no matter how you came to it, it will always grow on you and be with you.
We hope to one day return to Active Duty. If that chance never comes our way again, I know that the pride we have will never leave him, myself or our children.
Lauren is the wife of a medically retired Airmen, who also runs MidgetMomma.com a family oriented, coupons, deals & product review blog.