That's me and Kris rockin' the white shirts, and another mil-blogging pal!
Hello!! I’m Kris from The New “Normal.” Thank you, Rheanna, for allowing me to guest blog today about our crazy military life! We are an Army National Guard family living in the lovely Midwest. My husband and I have been married 11 years and we have been an Army family for just about 5 years now. It’s definitely been 5 years full of ups and downs with the military, but it is a part of our life that I wouldn’t change for anything and despite all of the obstacles, it has been one of the best decisions that we made as a family.
When I met my husband, he had mentioned the fact that joining the military was something that he has always dreamed of doing. Having no one in my family or circle of friends with any military experience, I thought he was crazy. Why would anyone want to do that? That was back in 1997. Fast forward to September 11, 2001. We had been married a couple of months and after that tragic day, talks of my husband’s wish to join the military resumed. Sadly, as a selfish new wife, I did not want to think of my husband in that role and put him off a little longer, saying I wanted kids first. 6 years and 2 kids later, my husband finally told me, “If I never join the Army, it will be something that I regret for the rest of my life.” I knew then how much it meant to him and I fully supported his decision, so at 27 he headed off as the “old man” (as the drill sergeants called him!) to Basic Training for the Army National Guard. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, and in this case I couldn’t more agree because knowing what I know now, I wish I had been more supportive of my husband’s military dreams when we first met. When it comes to the Army, he excels and it is his passion. And in turn, it is something that I love for our family as well.
My husband decided to join the National Guard rather than Active Army because of family ties. He is an integral part of his family’s small business and did not feel like he could completely walk away from the civilian side. We had also established a home in our current city and he did not want to disrupt our family life. He saw joining the Guard as the best of both worlds; he could fulfill his duty with the military while remaining in the civilian world at the same time. This has been a decision that we waver on constantly and at many times wish that we had chosen to go Active Duty when he first joined. There are many benefits to being a Guard family – we do not have to move every few years, we choose where we want to live, my career can thrive – and I am grateful for those opportunities.
Life with the National Guard also brings about difficulties that at times are very frustrating. My husband’s current unit is located two hours from our home. Due to this, I do not participate as I would like to in the FRG and other unit events. I am one who loves to get involved and get to know people. Since many of the Soldiers in the unit are spread all over the state, the families rarely have the opportunity to get together, which made the deployment difficult for me. I wanted to reach out to the other wives. We all needed support but with there being such great distances between many of us (and a non-functioning FRG at the time) we found that extremely difficult. This made the time during our recent deployment very lonely and isolating at first. I felt like I was the only on going through this situation and that no one, try as they might, really understood what our family was going through. Thank heavens for all of the wonderful milspouse bloggers who became my support network during this time! Without this amazing community, I know I would not have survived our deployment as well as I did!
We find that being in the National Guard is a strange occurrence to many people around us on the civilian side. Many do not know just what they Guard is and we are asked lots of questions. We have found that most think that with the Guard, you do not deploy often, or at all, and that it really is just one weekend a month and two weeks a year. It always makes me laugh when people ask about that, as in the 5 years that my husband has been with the Guard he has been away for training for close to 3 years of that time! After the deployment, most people assumed that since he was not active Army that his returning home meant he has fulfilled his service obligation and now he was done. They were shocked when we would tell them that he wants to make it a career path and that he will definitely deploy again. At first I found the questions very frustrating, but then I began to realize that people asked their questions mostly out of genuine curiosity and that I was just like them once. Now I answer honestly and attempt to give them a better picture as to what the National Guard is and does.
Life with the Army National Guard brings its challenges, but “the grass is always greener on the other side” and I know that Active Duty Army has its many difficulties as well. Despite not being located near my husband’s unit, a base, or other military families, I do enjoy that we do not have to move every few years and our kids can remain in the school and house that they have always known. At times I do wish we could move around the country or overseas, but then again I have never had to deal with a PCS so I really have no idea how difficult that is! I love the fact that we are a military family but can still remain with our feet in the civilian world as well. I am proud of my husband and the choices that he has made to serve this country. It’s been a crazy 5 years, but years that I look back on with fond memories and cannot wait to see what the future years will bring!