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The Difference Between Military and Civilian Life

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Miltary life versus civilian life: how do they measure up?

We’ve had a military life and a civilian life. I have to say, most times they aren’t that far apart. My husband goes to work Monday through Friday, is usually home for dinner, has holidays off, and takes vacation time during the year.

But then there are times where our life varies from most others. Like this fall – Sam will be gone for 5-6 weeks. Although when we were younger this caused me a great deal of stress and heartache, I’ve learned after multiple separations that this is simply part of the military life. I miss him, but 6 weeks is nothing compared to the 18 months he spent in Okinawa or 9 months in Iraq.

The Army often springs last minute schedule changes on us. Sam can come home one day and tell me he works a 24 hour shift on the next one – or a weekend day is gone. These times are “duty” and each soldier has to do them during the month.

We can’t move until we are stationed somewhere else. I mean, we could move homes but we can’t move out of town or state.

The deployments are a fact of our life. I know that right now, the clock is ticking on Sam getting orders to go overseas. In 2004, he came home and told me we had to talk. It was the height of the war, he was in the Marines, and I just knew. I knew he was going to be gone. I was 20 years old and it honestly felt like my life was over. We had 3 weeks to get him ready to go and I spent the entire time miserable. Saying goodbye was incredibly tough – and I thought 9 months would never pass. 8 years later I know how fast it really did go.

This time around I’m certainly hoping we get more time, but 8 years later I’m more ready to deal with it than I was. I have prepared myself that this is a real and significant part of what our life entails – and the important thing this time around is to help my daughter cope with her daddy being gone for a long period of time.

The part that I often hear people say they couldn’t handle, but I actually like, is how much the military controls our life. Which sounds terrible but it’s actually very comforting. Out of the military, Sam and I struggled with budgeting, insurance costs, our decisions on moving and where to live – and the military gave us that second chance to get things back under control again. Our insurance is covered. We have a steady paycheck with Sam, and his pay allows me to stay at home while also working from home.

We spend a lot more quality time together because we know how quickly this can all change. The routine we love so much now – it can quickly become me as a temporary single parent. Time with Bella and as a family become moments I capture in my mind, with picture, and in writing to remember when the separation comes.

What changed for you being a part of the military? What are the pros and cons you face as a military family?

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