By Michelle Rawlings
I have learned an important lesson about being a military spouse over the course of the last few weeks. There is a community of support, understanding, and compassion that comes with having military families as your friends. I mean I always knew that there were benefits of having military friends. They have a unique understanding of what it means to be a military spouse. But military family friends offer more than just being your social buddies that you hang out with on the weekend and for barbeques. They are your surrogate family, employment recommendations, tour guides, activity directors, they let you know the best schools, where to shop, and they are people you can count on when you need them the most.
I have never been one, who likes to ask for help, even when I am reassured repeatedly that it is available… that’s just not me. I never wanted to burden anyone and maybe it’s a little bit of pride to be able to do things myself. Regardless of the reason, there are times in our life when we can do nothing else but break down and ask for help. Before our family moved, I had never lived away from home. I have always had my immediate and extended family by my side. However, now that we have moved to a new state where we know very few people I have come to realize just how much we depend on our military family connections.
So here is how I realized I had underestimated the power of having military friends. A few weeks ago I was feeling under the weather. I went to the doctor but did not get better and a few days later I was at the hospital. So here we were, with our one year old in tow while our three year old was at school. With no family in town we had to turn to our military friends. Not only did they help take care of our kids but also, they provided soup and overall looked after us. Not even two weeks later my husband was very ill and once again we called on our military friends to help take care of the kids so that I was able to stay by my husband’s side while back at the hospital. This would not have been possible otherwise since both of our families live many hours away.
These friends of ours are amazing! The truth is we have only known them for a few short months but in that time we have developed a friendship that will last a lifetime. We take care of each other, their successes are our successes and vice versa, when we are in need they are there and we are forever thankful to have connected with such a great military family. The harsh reality is that when you move to somewhere new you have to start over and embrace the next chapter of your family’s life. But one of the first steps that make all the difference is reaching out and meeting other military members in your community.
Being a military family is like running a marathon, there are highs and lows, it takes dedication, commitment, and you are pushed to your limits and find relief when you surpass your own expectations. However this is not a race you run alone and there are no awards for finishing first. No, this is a race ran side by side that stretches around the world. Where your military families step in to encourage, support, and even carry you through tough times. So here is my final thought, the more you embrace this life, the people who are just like you, and reciprocate the support, you will be surprised at the positive nature of this military culture. So join the race and support your military families and more importantly be open to letting them in your life, you never know when you may need them.