YDU: Terrible and Wonderful at the Same Time


Why didn't you tell me that military life would be a roller coaster?  My husband has been in in army for seven years and just finished his third deployment. To many of my friends back home this seems like a huge amount of time. In military life, he is only at the beginning of his journey.

I am no longer a new Army wife, but I am also not a seasoned veteran with all of the answers. When I see all the brand new spouses in our unit, I see how much I had to learn.

I remember sitting down with my husband recruiter who tried to convince me of how great it would be for my husband to join the Army.

My husband was set to go with just the idea of knowing he was going to be able to provide for his new family without question. I was a bit more hesitant.

We discussed travel, health care and all the selling points recruiters have about military life. Two months later I dropped off my husband at MEPS to leave for basic.

Other than a few bumps, our Army life started off much like the recruiter had said. We had insurance and housing. We could walk to the stores. We  seemed to get all the help we needed from every direction.

Once we moved to the first unit assignment things changed. Within three months of our arrival my husband was whisked away on a 15 month deployment to Iraq.

I remember going home and sitting on my kitchen floor for hours because at least if I was there and that was all I could see I could pretend that he was just in the living room watching TV.

You see, they tell you it will be hard,  but you never realize how hard until you are in that moment.

They also tell you that it will get easier.  And it does.  Until something happens like the car dies or the communication is shut down. Then it’s bad again.

They don’t tell you that the entire deployment is like a nonstop roller coaster ride. It isn't just that the bad is worse than what they told you it would be, it is that the good is better than you expected.

Throughout the deployment they tell you how great the homecomings will be, but it’s always better than they say. You don’t realize until that moment you see the soldiers on the base how proud you are or how happy you are.

My first homecoming I was so excited all day and just ecstatic when I climbed in my car. Then I hit the main road of the post and saw the procession of Freedom Riders and buses coming through.

The moment I saw those buses I burst into tears. I didn’t realize until that moment how much I really missed my husband and seeing this display I realized how proud I was. All of the ups and downs of deployment were worth it just for this moment.

The one thing I wish the recruiter would have told me is this:  it’s good and its bad.  It is terrible and wonderful all at the same time.  But it is worth it.

So I am going to tell all of you what I wish that recruiter had told me:  Military life is a roller coaster. It is exciting but terrifying. Military life is hard, harder than you can ever imagine.  You are going to want to just give up at times. And then there are moments that make it all worthwhile.

Nichole Varnell and her Army husband are currently at Fort Riley KS. They have two boys ages 4 and 7.

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