Why didn't you tell me that I would be a big fat FRAUD?
I have been through many, many deployments. So many, that I haven’t even kept track of the number.
I have felt the dread of anticipation, the pain of separation, the fear when communication is shut down and the elation of homecoming. I am no stranger to the cycle of emotions during deployment.
So why am I a big fat fraud? My service member has never deployed. Like, ever.
Oh, we’ve had our fair share of separations -- you can write that down. We spent his first 14 months in the Marine Corps apart from one another while I finished my senior year of high school. He left for boot camp just two weeks after our daughter was born.
But he has never been on a combat deployment or any other overseas tour that would take him away from us for 6-9 months at a time.
So my question is this: Is he any less worthy of bearing the title of United States Marine because he hasn't deployed?
By proxy, does this mean that I am not really a military spouse? Does this make the hardships and sacrifices that our family has endured completely irrelevant?
Here’s another confession: I used to think so.
I used to have reservations of telling people what my husband does in the Marine Corps. I tried to never ‘complain’ or ‘vent’ about our own separations because I always felt that they paled in comparison to the back to back deployments of my Infantry Mil-Families or the rigorous dynamic of a my Drill Instructor Mil-Families.
I used to feel like no matter what I did, I would be a military spouse in name only.
It wasn’t until a Mil-Friend voiced to me the very same reservation that I realized that I DO deserve ownership of my role. It took being forced to argue against the very insecurity that I myself had. Apparently, I had argued so well that I convinced the both of us!
Below are just three of the examples that I presented to my Mil-Friend in an effort to counter her self-doubt (and my own):
1. Not every service member serves must deploy. The skills of some service members may be more valuable to the organization if they remain stateside.
There are many nuts and bolts that hold together each branch of our military so that it may work properly. Without administrative billets, there would be no one to handle the logistical aspect of streamlining re-enlistments, maintaining PCS orders or paying the bills.
Without musician billets, our military’s recruiting efforts and community outreach, as well as troop moral would be compromised. These are just two examples of the many Military Occupational Specialties that truly help hold our military structure together.
2. Gone is gone is gone is gone. My husband’s schedule keeps him away in more sporadic bursts than anything. One week here, two weeks gone, back for three days, gone for another week (lather, rinse, repeat).
Aside from those first 14 months apart in the beginning, the longest period of time he was away from home was one full month.
However, if we were to total up the amount of time that we have been separated throughout the 15 years he has been in the Corps, we would come up with a total of about 1,980 days. That’s 4.5 months each year or about 5.5 YEARS of being separated from my Marine.
That’s exactly one-third of our time together in the Corps. And yes, Murphy’s Law and I have faced off many times. Murphy does not discriminate when it comes to separations and deployment. The cycle may be different, but gone is gone…is gone.
3. Being a spouse is about more than our own experience. While my husband has never personally deployed, I HAVE experienced many deployments--yours.
We military spouses empathize we don't just sympathize. It is because of this gift/curse that we can be an ultimate resource for friends during deployment. We can anticipate what they need and o help stop Murphy’s Law in its tracks dozens of times.
So if you ever find yourself thinking that you aren’t what a Mil-Spouse is ‘supposed’ to be, I challenge you to look back at all of the things that YOU may have done for your fellow Mil-Families. Think about all of the things you have said and all the things you have been for them.
Everyone in this lifestyle endures sacrifice, heartache and uncertainty, including myself. I have faced these things through my own experiences and I have faced them on behalf of others. Our service members serve in many capacities at home and abroad. We spouses serve in many capacities as well, and THIS spouse is very proud to be part of the ‘nuts & bolts’ club.
MJ Boice currently resides with her active duty Marine in the beautiful low-country of SC, is the mother of two teenagers (please pray for her) and works as a Readiness & Deployment Support Trainer. Her passions include: writing, volunteering and serious coffee consumption; all of which contribute to her “90-Nothin’, Grip-It-And-Rip-It” mentality. As of May 2014, she will (finally!) be the proud owner of a B.S. in Social Psychology which will be used to serve the greater military community. YDU: Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story. If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.