Unexpected Friendships… I tended to stick to myself in that tiny Virginia apartment nine years ago, not knowing where to go or who to talk to. I was a newlywed who had just left everything I had ever known, to begin a new life with my military husband. I spent most of my time trying to create that perfect space for the two of us, using the packing boxes as the computer stand in what should have been the dining area. We didn’t have a dining table, so the office it was. I’d venture out to the grocery store, excited to buy the ingredients to try the recipes I had seen on the Food Network. And with all my new kitchen gadgets I had gotten from my wedding shower, I could surely make anything I wanted.
I certainly kept busy in those first few months, but I had no friends.
Before long, I heard that some of the other wives from my husband’s unit were attending the Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge, Skills (L.I.N.K.S) program and I decided to join them. I anxiously approached the first of three days not knowing anyone. When I arrived, I realized that many of the ladies already knew each other because they all lived in the same apartment complex. For a moment I felt like an outsider. But within minutes, those ladies picked me up and brought me into their circle of friends. Some of them were new to the military like me, while some had a little time under their belts. We bonded over the next three days and continued to get together over the next several months for lunch, parties, and girls’ night out. Those women helped shape my first impression of military spouses. And though we all went our separate ways when our husbands’ training was over, nine years later I still keep in touch with many of them.
The bond that forms between military spouses is unique and exceptional. We all have our turns at moving away and losing contact. But out of sight is not out of mind. It is the type of bond that when we do finally meet again, we pick up right where we left off. Our kids have grown older, there might be another baby, and maybe someone has been on the other side of the world for the past two years. But if fate brings us back together, it’s as though nothing has changed. That bond is still there, the bond that united our hearts in the challenges of military life, the bond that lets us know we are never alone.
In my journey through military life, I have realized that nearly all the military spouses I have met, and their husbands, become friends. Even those that I don’t have much in common with and I only see at unit functions, I know I can rely on if needed. There is an unspoken trust amongst military families that says, “I’m here for you whenever you need.” Though I tend to fall into the “I can do it myself” mentality, it is comforting to know that I have all the help I need if necessary.
In celebration of Military Appreciation Month, I would like to recognize all military spouses and their families for being remarkable. Thank you for holding each other up, thank you for being a source of trust, and thank you for making military life a little bit easier.