A year ago my husband came back home with the good news. He screamed at the top of his lungs, "I HAVE AN ASSIGNMENT!"
I looked at our five-month old baby boy and smiled. Our life is about to change again, I was thinking--which I never considered to be a bad thing.
I looked at my proud husband in uniform and asked, “So, where are we going?”
“To a GSU!”
A GSU? Throughout my husband’s career I heard a lot of acronyms and with most of them I had the time and the actual ability to remember what they mean. But I had never heard of a GSU.
“GS... what?” I asked.
“GSU,” he answered. “It means Geographically Separated Unit.”
“Separated from what?” I inquired.
“Separated from a military base,” he replied.
Well how bad could that be? For the next few months, my husband and I prepared for our PCS as usual. We were looking forward to the new destination while feeling a bit sad and scared about leaving the base that had been our home for the past three years.
When the movers knocked on our door, I was ready to pack and go! A brand new adventure was about to begin and this time we had our firstborn along for the ride.
After a month of driving through seven different countries in Europe, stopping for a TDY and fighting the extreme cold weather and snow that tends to hit the continent during the winter, we finally arrived at destination-- Our GSU! Our home for the next 3 years! We were all very happy and life was good.
Do you know how they say, “Ask and you shall be answered”? Well, after a few weeks spent in a hotel room looking for a house to call home, I finally realized what GSU really stands for “God, Save Us!”
GSU didn't simply mean that we were geographically separated from a physical military base. It meant we were alone. Completely and utterly alone.
Including my husband, there are exactly three people total working at the post. The closest base is hundreds of miles away from us.
We are surrounded by non-English speakers who have absolutely no intention of welcoming expats. There is no base exchange, no Commissary, no support.
Our only way to communicate with the outside world is the internet. We have no phone because the country doesn’t offer any plans for foreigners who wish to keep in touch with their home country. Nobody from the squadron ever comes to visit us due to the budget cuts that are afflicting the military. We have been left to ourselves.
To make matters worse, the other two people who work here are very introverted. My husband and I have tried many times to build a connection with them, but after our invitation to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together was declined, as were all of our other invitations, we decided to simply give up.
This year has been truly hard. We did PCS before but never once had I ever felt so shocked and lonely.
I wish I could talk to the people in charge and ask them, “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me it was going to be so hard? Why didn’t you tell me we were going to be completely alone for three years? Why didn’t you tell me we were going to be left with no support whatsoever, in any shape or form?”
I have always been the type of person who sees the glass half full. So I decided to rise to the occasion and start seeing the positives in a being stationed at a GSU.
My husband and I have realized just how strong of a couple we are and how incredibly brave we can be. We support one another and even learn a new language to try and be accepted by the locals.
Due to the total lack of job opportunities here, I decided to take my ghostwriting business to a whole other level and it is now thriving.
Our baby is in daycare and on top of speaking two languages at home, he is learning a brand new one. Since my husband’s job doesn’t require much effort, we take all the free time we have to explore the country and the continent.
Thanks to this assignment, my family and I have learned to value much more the support and help offered by a military base, whether small or large. The incredible sense of community created by military members and their families is something that I truly miss and that now I much appreciate.
I have learned that no matter what, home truly is where the Air Force sends you. And now, with one year down and two more to go with this geographically separated unit, I can finally say: “Honey, I’m home!”
Brunella Irma Costagliola is a proud military wife, loving mother of a bouncing boy and a professional ghostwriter. She specializes in writing non-fiction books and throughout her career she has helped many aspiring authors see their dreams come true: their names in print and their books published. Brunella has written books, articles, reviews, papers and much more. Her articles have been published in major publications and her own book is sold worldwide. She has recently added famous people of the entertainment business to her long list of clients. For more information, please visit www.brunellairmacostagliola.com