It has been 5 years since my husband’s ETS date. November 16, 2009 a date that I remember and will likely remember for years to come. Although my husband was in the Army before we became husband and wife, it has been a resounding part of our life that has shaped how we react with the rest of the world. It’s the knowledge that we are part of the 1% club that bonds us together, making us beam with pride. Our oldest daughter was born near post; her umbilical cord was cut with 5-50 parachute cord (as she was born unexpectedly on our bathroom floor), our 8 year marriage has only begun to truly flourish as we had spent nearly half that time away from each other (my husband went to school for 18 months after his ETS date), and our house is adorned with military objects, including the his folded re-enlistment flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. I am currently in school earning a master’s degree in Professional Counseling, so that I can work within the military community. To top that off, I have started to volunteer at our local Army Strong Center.
Honestly, I wish we were back in the life sometimes and I feel guilty because I did not dawn the uniform, I am not the one that had to go off into a foreign land. I do not want to spend any more time away from my husband as we just welcomed our youngest daughter into the world, one year ago. Before, when we were in the military, my husband had a tendency to be deployed 8 months after our children were born. It is fantastic to see him with our children, to know that he is here when it snows too much or the pipes freeze. Having my husband around to co-parent our children and to kiss every night before I go to bed makes me the happiest women alive. Yet, I have this feeling that we are now separated from the 1% club. I am striving to find a way to connect to a world that had such a profound impact on my life, to give back. I have even resorted to asking my husband if he was sure that he was done with the military life. Truthfully, I know that we are done with active duty, Reserves or even the National Guard and when I think of deployments, I am thankful to God that we decided to leave active duty. The interesting thing is, separating from the military is more than just a soldier’s experience (albeit very important), but a family’s experience as well, an Army wife’s experience. When I see a uniform out of the corner of my eye, I feel butterfly’s in my stomach. When I hear certain songs on the radio, I can become overwhelmed with tears because they remind me of a time when I had to say good-bye to the love of my life, the father of my children. Certain sites remind me of post, a grouping of houses that looks like they could be on a military installation. As I think about no longer being part of the “active” 1 % population, I am reminded that no matter how you look at it, we will always know what others do not know, what others have never felt, what others maybe do not have the courage to do. I am always an Army wife inside my heart now I just work to utilize my Army wife mind and heart in a civilian world. Now, I spend my days continuing to take care of the house (everything from bills to dinner to children), schooling and dealing with the VA on my husband’s behalf.