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Dear Military, Here's Why I'm Thankful for You

Perhaps everyone thinks they have the answer to this inquiry. Obviously, we’re grateful for our service members for volunteering to put themselves in harm’s way, for standing guard at our borders, on the sea, in the air and in faraway countries. We’re thankful they make this sacrifice to be away from us -- their families and friends -- to answer the call, day or night.

But a more personal level, I am thankful to the military for teaching me things I didn’t know about myself.

Dear Military, Here's Why I'm Thankful for You

Thank you for showing me how much I love my husband. Even if I combined the butterflies I felt on our first date, during our first kiss, and on our wedding day, it would still come nowhere close to the anxiousness I felt seeing him after his first deployment. I’ll never forget when he wrapped his arms around me and stood there, just holding me close, then pulled back to say, “Gosh, I missed you.” Thank you, military. Only a military spouse knows there’s nothing in the world like homecoming.

Thank you for teaching me to be self-sufficient. When I hear people talking about our first duty station and the following groans that accompany it, I can’t help but smile. That tiny town was the place I first explored my independence. Living the life of a full-time college student with a part-time job, I kept myself productive, healthy and strong during my husband’s first deployment. It was only me, an empty 3-bedroom house, and a little dog, but I thrived and kept our home going while waiting for his return.

Thank you for teaching me not to squander time. It’s impossible to take time for granted anymore. We’re either begging for it to slow down before a separation, or pleading with it to speed up during one. I’ve seen how fast the hours and minutes can fly, and how slow they can go; time is hardly ever on your side.

Thank you for teaching me to be strong. The hardest thing in the world I have ever had to do was watch my husband kneel in front of me to kiss my six-month-pregnant belly, knowing he would not be there for the birth of our first baby. It took every ounce of my strength to walk back to our car and drive away from the flight line. It took even more strength when his phone call was abruptly cut off the night after our daughter was born, and I didn’t hear from him again for 10 days due to a communication blackout. I was at my wit's end, but I had a newborn to care for, so it was important to keep it together.

Thank you for the opportunity for us to grow as a family. With all of the change associated with the military, marriages either grow together or apart. I like to think that every year we pass through makes us stronger, and more prepared for the future. We’ve endured more than the average civilian family’s fair share of stressors, and, yet, we’re still standing.

Thank you for allowing my husband to be a part of such an amazing organization. I’ve watched him transform from a nervous kid to the confident man he is now.

I’m thankful for the military for a number of reasons, but mostly because they have helped shape my husband, our kids, our lives and me into who we are and what we’re doing today. Had my husband not joined and we had forged our lives in the civilian world, we would be completely different people. Would we be as successful? As happy? As fulfilled? I’m not sure.

I’m thankful to be where we are, now, and for everything the military has done for us, and what they do for all of us, every day.

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