A Friendship in Transformation


I have a friend I have known as long as my husband's been in the Army.  Her husband and mine started at the same time and followed similar career paths.  They both ended up in Germany, though in different units in different cities, and both deployed at the same time.  The wife and I have maintained an email-based friendship throughout the years.

When we first met, this couple was just as gung-ho about the Army as we were.  And I thought my friend made an excellent Army wife: I never heard her complain about military annoyances or deployments, beyond the normal grousing that we all do.  She rolled with the punches and seemed to take everything in stride.  I thought her ability to never let anything get her down was phenomenal.

Here we are, five years later, and my husband and I are just as gung-ho as we once were, possibly even more.  And our friends absolutely can't wait to get out of the military.

I have been balking at writing this post because I don't want it to sound like I'm tearing this couple down.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to leave the service, and people have every right to change their minds about their career path and what they think is best for their family.  I still admire and respect these people and hopefully will remain friends with her even once they're out.  I really don't want it to sound like I can only be friends with her if she loves the Army with all her heart.

But I am having a hard time deciding how to reply to her emails of late.  They are mostly complaining about the Army and a countdown of everything it will take for them to leave as quickly as they can.  She probably just needs to blow off steam to someone who understands all things military, but I'm never really sure how to respond.  She seems to have developed such contempt for the Army that it kinda makes me feel uncomfortable.  But I want to remain friends with her and support her as they transition out.

When I write her back, I usually just tell her what's going on in our life and wish her the best of luck with her situation.  But I feel a profound sadness that these five years have transformed the perfect milspouse into someone who loathes the Army.  And I really feel sad that I've lost my "battle buddy," in a sense.  I looked up to her and found strength in her unending optimism; I'm sad that that aspect of her is gone.

It's always been hard for me to move away from my milspouse friends.  And I've seen many of them get out of the Army in the past few years.  But this is the first friend of mine who's turned openly hostile to the military, and it's put a bit of a strain on our friendship, at least from my side of the equation.  The Army's not just my family's livelihood; it's our way of life and our pride and joy.  It's hard for me to hear people tear it down, especially people on the inside.

I guess this post isn't really about asking advice or seeing if anyone else has faced the same problem.  I suppose I just needed to blow off steam like my friend does.  I'll be there for her and you guys can be here for me, right?  Good old SpouseBUZZ.

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