What I signed up for was the Weekend Warrior version of the game of Life. You know, the one where you loan your soldier to the National Guard one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer.
Suddenly you find that every single birthday, anniversary and special occasion falls on a drill weekend because, even though it is statistically improbable that this is true, you’ll inevitably be sharing your special day with the military. You also assume that should there be any kind of state of emergency, you’ll be the one shoveling, searching for the circuit breaker, bailing out water, or otherwise pulling out your survival skills solo when the military calls dibs.
Then they upped the ante and suddenly we were “all in” this game. My husband is now AGR (Active Guard Reserve). That means that when you ask me if he’s Guard or Active Duty, my response is “yes”. He’s a full-time, active duty National Guardsman. Most of the time, he gets up and gets ready for work and leaves a kiss on my lips as I hand him his lunchbox. He just looks more spiffy than the average bear when he leaves the house dressed in his ACUs (and I’m still a sucker for that man in uniform).
But sometimes, four plus times in total if we’re keeping track, he’s deployed for a year at a time. During these times, I see his lunchbox taunting me as I pack lunches for my little ones for school. His car sits in our driveway and I still, even mid-deployment, get excited when I pull up to our house before remembering that he won’t be using that car anytime soon. I find myself taking way too many pictures in a vain attempt to make sure he doesn’t miss anything. And I sleep in his spot in the bed just so I don’t roll over to hold him and find my arms hitting empty mattress.
In too many months from now, I’ll kiss that face, hold on too tightly for too long and breathe for the first time in a year. And the morning after that joyful reunion, he’ll get up and get ready for work and kiss me as I hand him his lunchbox and he heads to work.
Trust me when I tell you that I had no idea what I was getting into over twenty years ago. But this life of too many goodbyes is still the one I choose if it means it’s a life with my soldier in it.
As a military spouse for over two decades and a mother of four, Randi knows firsthand the challenges of military families both when their loved ones are deployed and when they are home.
Randi has a Masters in Human Services with a specialty in Not-for-Profit Management. She has committed over twenty years of her life to serving vulnerable populations in numerous capacities. She founded and serves as Executive Director at Home Front Hearts, a nonprofit organization serving New Jersey’s military families. Her organization has been recognized as a “Top Great Nonprofit” for the past two consecutive years and was just awarded the Military Spouse Business Association Red, White and Blue Community Heartbeat Award.
Randi has been honored with a Chamber Choice Award from the East Brunswick Regional Chamber of Commerce Charitable Foundation for outstanding contributions and service to community and country (2009) and with the Chairman’s Award from the NJ Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in recognition of her exceptional support of service members and their families (2010). She was recognized by Babble.com as a “mom changing the world” and by Harlequin More Than Words as a “real-life heroine who is improving her community” (both in 2011). Randi received a “shout out” on the Colbert Report (2012) and was the recipient of the National Infantry Association’s Shield of Sparta – Heroine of Infantry award (2013). Most recently, she was recognized as the AFI 2014 New Jersey National Guard Spouse of the Year and a recipient of The Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Award. She’s also excited to have co-authored Stories Around the Table in the great company of many distinguished authors in the military spouse community. She currently services on the Military Family Advisory Network’s Advisory Board.
Randi knew as a young child that she wanted to be “a champion for others”. Today, as our military protects us on several fronts, she has dedicated herself to ensuring that our country’s service members and their families get the much needed support and resources they deserve.