I read about it all the time on Spousebuzz - The Army does not care about your plans, it does not care about your schedule. The Army cannot always keep its promises. For whatever reason, though, I guess that thought never really sank in with me. Until now.
Why? Because the powers that be have decided to extend my servicemember's annual training (AT) this year from two weeks to one month. A MONTH.
Now, I know that only having him gone for a month seems like small potatoes to the wonderful spouses who have had to deal with deployments and have had to give birth alone. Trust me, when you compare it to facing those trials, I am not complaining. More power to all of you who go through that. You are amazing beyond words. For me though, one whole month is a little ... shocking.
Being the significant other of a National Guard member, I tend not to focus on the fact that my servicemember is...well, in the service. I read all of the wonderful articles on here about the long deployments (God bless you, spouses!), PCSing, and what's new at the commissary, and while I'm very interested in gaining knowledge about all of these things just in case I ever need to know, it seems that a part of my brain had glossed over the hard parts. As if those things applied only to active duty spouses and significant others ... as if the Army only decided to mess with their plans.
How silly of me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely proud of what my Army man does and I'm well aware of the fact that some of the things he has to do are dangerous and that he could be sent off at any time to a place that's even more dangerous. Maybe the latter part is exactly the reason I think about it as little as I do (being a worrier and a worst-case-scenario-thinker-upper). Who knows. All I know is that until this point, with the exception of one weekend of each month, my soldier has come home from his civilian job every evening and crawled into bed with me. I've been coddled to this point, I know.
Sure, he had to leave for two weeks for AT last summer. But at the time I was in the middle of helping my best friend plan her wedding (which happened the day he got home from AT), and while I still missed him, the time passed quickly. And yes, he got called for several weeks to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but that kind of call to duty was extremely justified. There was no way I could even begin to be upset about that.
Realistically, I know we'll be fine. The time will pass quickly and it'll be nothing more than a growing experience. But I think what's striking me about this whole thing is how arbitrary it seems. As though someone thought it up on a whim and someone else decided to make it happen without a second thought.
You would think I would know better from all my reading, but I guess I'm new to this part of things. It doesn't sink in until it hits you in the face for the first time. Now I know. The Army will say jump, and my soldier's feet will be off the ground before they even finish telling him how high. I don't get a say. All I can do is learn how to positively and productively fill the space in between and be there with a smile on my face and open arms when he gets back.
This makes me wonder what else I'm going to face along the way as a National guard girlfriend (and hopefully someday spouse :)). Do you remember any other of your first hard-earned lessons as a military spouse? How did you deal with them?
Diana is a twenty-something publishing professional currently working as a writer and assistant at her local newspaper. A rural New Jersey native, she enjoys spending time with her handsome, goofy, lovable music critic of a servicemember, going on hikes with their dog, exploring new recipes and restaurants, reading books by or about various dead people, and learning random facts that will maybe someday, probably never, come in handy.