November is Military Family Appreciation month – it’s also a time of year that gets me thinking about what I’m thankful for. As we get ready to enter my husband’s 15th year in the Army, this year I find myself reflecting on and appreciating the importance of my Military Family as it has existed and grown throughout this time. I’m so truly thankful for the many wonderful people who have so importantly impacted my life as an Army spouse and who have become my Family through so many moves, so many states, and so many different times in our lives.
When my husband was commissioned out of college (a few years before he became my husband), I remember thinking that it wasn’t that big a deal and that he would do his 4 years and then we would move on with our lives. In fact, in my early college years, I had, in fact, SWORN that no one would ever ‘welcome me to the Army, ma’am. Fast forward to the obligatory saber slap on the bustle of my wedding dress and there I was – becoming a military family. It was a bit of an adventure as we prepped for the beginning of our life together, anxiously awaiting his orders to find out where the Army would send us. We had decided we were going to go BIG and kick this thing off right with a tour in Europe. Buuuuut…it unfortunately lined up with the kick off of the Iraq War troop surge so needless to say, a month before we were married we found out we were NOT going to Germany, but rather Fort Campbell KENTUCKY…where he would deploy for 15 months just 3 months after we were married. It wasn’t exactly what we’d planned, that’s for sure, but as it turned out it was exactly what I needed to really understand the importance of my Military Family.
My fondest memories of Fort Campbell are by far the amazing group of women that I met and formed life long bonds with there. I moved there knowing only my husband and one of his friends, but during my time there, I formed some of the best friendships and support systems I have ever known. Our battalion commander’s wife and our unit’s FRSA (Family Readiness Support Assistant), remain, to this day, two of the kindest and most caring people that I’ve ever met. They welcomed me with open arms and taught me how to be a good and supportive wife to a soldier but also really helped me come into my own. They taught me how to be apart of the big dysfunctional family that is Army spouses and how to appreciate and learn from each and every experience, good or bad, that I had in that role. I was also lucky enough to meet a group of dynamic women and amazing friends who loved me for me and gave me a support that I didn’t know was possible, especially during such a hard time in all our lives. Together, all these women were some of the best friends I have ever had and I am so thankful for the family we were during that time, and probably are still today. These women hands down made me who I am as a military spouse today, but they also really influenced who I became as a person, and that’s something that I’ll never forget.
As time has gone on and my husband has gone through multiple MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) changes, our Army experience has changed quite a bit. We aren’t as engrained in the Army family as we were when we were part of the massive constantly deploying Brigade Combat Team environment. With every job J has though, and every new state/station we live in, we continue to meet some of our best friends through the military. They are the people that you have holidays with when you can’t get home, who are there for you when you are sick or having a baby and your family is really far away – in short, they are the Family we choose, and there’s something really beautiful in that.
These days, we aren’t even stationed at an Army post, but as I have embarked on this new journey of small business ownership and occasional blogging, I have found a whole new aspect of the Military Family – and that is the online network of amazing military spouses who are blogging and making it work while they move all over the world to support their service members. The amazing thing about this is that even though I have never met most of these women, we share this bond of a shared experience in Military Life and they have been so supportive and encouraging and I find myself again overwhelmed with gratitude for these relationships made possible by this sometimes crazy military life. A special shout out to Allison of Project Motherhood NYC, who has featured some of our tees on her beautiful children with messages of female empowerment, gender equality, and recognizing the strength within us as mothers. A very special shout out to Justine from It’s Always Sunny in June – who is just the absolute coolest and realest ever. She and her amazing family truly do stand out in the crowd… and they make our clothes look SO GOOD – I’m so thankful for her support and so happy to be working with her.
Military life isn’t the easiest for the military family, but the military is a very big and very special community that I’m proud to be a part of. This Thanksgiving and Military Family Appreciation Month, I’m especially thankful for the family that the military has brought to me.