Hear me out before you take up your pitchforks!
I’m a military spouse. Sort of. I married a Marine Reservist, so I’ve had the joy of living the best (and sometimes the worst) of both worlds. I get to go to the Marine Corps Ball every year (think Prom for big kids). I get to send my husband away on a regular basis for drill and have the house all to myself. I get to say with pride that my family serves this nation. I also get the other side – he deployed in 2009 and we I was left very alone to face deployment (active duty spouses have a built-in support network in most cases – I didn’t have that at all!). He goes away regularly, always at the worst possible time – I’m usually sick or have 100 things to do when he gets the call that he needs to go to a commander’s meeting the one weekend I needed him home.
However, I have always managed to avoid the one thing every military spouse accepts as a given – the PCS.
PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station. It means you’re being relocated with little input as to where you are going or when arrive. It means you’re uprooting your entire family and entire life and going somewhere else to start all over. Again.
Military spouses make PCSing look easy
Sure, they’ll say, “I’m not looking forward to this move.” or “The movers broke my favorite couch” but they do not tell you how truly awful PCSing is. When my turn to move across the country came, a dear Army Spouse friend said, “It’ll be fine! You’ll do great!” A Navy spouse sent me a military-issued PCS checklist to “help ease my mind” (the checklist had 100s of items, and I may or may not have started hyperventilating). All along the way, my military spouse friends have told me it wouldn’t be easy, but I could handle it.
At no point in time did any of them tell me I would hit a place where I would want to run away from home and never come back!
They didn’t tell me of the eerie feeling when all your belongings go into a moving truck and you have NO IDEA when you will see them again because you’ll be living in temporary quarters for an undetermined amount of time.
They didn’t tell me that my usually even-keeled husband would express the stress of moving in weird ways I had never seen in our decade-plus of marriage.
They said it would be “hard,” but never told me it would test me by drawing upon every skill set I have and exhaust me to the bone.
They said it would be lonely at first, but they didn’t tell me of the days sitting in an apartment with sterile furnishings all alone. They didn’t warn me I might find myself in tears trying to figure out what to do and where to go with no one to cry. They didn’t tell me that the loneliness of those tears is magnified when you have no one with whom to share them.
There are so many more things about this PCS that have changed me and changed the way I view active duty military spouses. But above all, I’m convinced they are lying to us every single day when they smile and say, “It’s not that bad.” I assume it’s not an evil plot, but simply how they cope with this life – who can know for sure?
This I do know – military spouses get the short end of the stick when it comes to serving this nation. I can’t tell you the times I’ve been told that certain discounts, programs, benefits are for the service member only because they are the one who “put their life on the line.” Military spouses are putting their lives on the line for you every single day.
- They are sending their spouse away not knowing if he/she is coming home ever again.
- They raise families as single parents half of the time and dual-parents the rest.
- They usually give up their careers, many working jobs they are sorely overqualified for because of their frequent moves.
- They say goodbye to their friends and communities every few years, setting off for a new home to build a new community they know they will walk away from shortly.
- And they handle PCS-ing over and over and over again! I can’t count the times I’ve said I never want to do this again! Yet an active duty spouse acknowledges each PCS as one of many and just moves through it.
I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel of my move and am planning to settle into the home we plan to stay in forever, I wish there were words to express my gratitude to all the gracious liars out there. Active duty spouses – you have my respect, my adoration, my awe, and my deepest gratitude. Thank you for your service every single day. And thank you, my dear friends, for lying to me and never telling me how truly awful this would be – I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to face this adventure without all of your lies and reassurances.