During the four months that my husband was at basic training I did a lot of leaning on our families for help and moral support. They were fantastic, but they didn’t quite get it. I knew that we would miss them all when we went to our first duty station, but at that point we were looking for a different kind of family.
For those four months I longed to be able to talk to someone who understood exactly what it was like to be a military wife. It’s not something that you remember every once and a while or something that for lengths of time disappears. Being a military wife is an all the time occupation.
It’s only with another wife that I can talk about the fact that my husband wants to go to war and that I also want it for him. Civilians don’t understand that need that they have to go down range with their guys. They also have a hard time understanding how quickly you are able to bond with those around you.
We got to Fort Campbell, KY at the end of May. Because of how leave worked out we weren’t able to get “back home” for Thanksgiving. With the exception of three guys, the entire platoon enjoyed Thanksgiving together. When we explain this to some of our civilian friends they told us how sorry they were. Yes, it was different to not spend the holiday with our families for the first time in our lives, but in those six short months these people turned into our family.
None of us look the same, we come from different states and in some instances different countries but inside we are the same. We are all different religions, different backgrounds and political affiliations but in all the ways that matter we are more like them than we are with our real families.
The relationships that I have with other army wives is something that I would think is reserved for sisters. And we are that, a sisterhood that totally understands and as hokey as it sounds we can complete each other’s sentences. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been astonished by my husband’s lack of hygiene while in the field. If you ask any military wife anywhere I bet she could tell you instantly how long her husband has been without showering in the field while shaking her head in disgust.
There are so many opportunities to get out in the military world and meet people that you actually have to work at being unsocial. The military does a fantastic job of making sure that there are plenty of places for spouses and children of soldiers are able to make connections. The easiest and fastest way to make these connections would be through the FRG (Family Readiness Group).
I’ve heard a lot of horror stories over the years that involve FRG’s. People love to add fuel to the fire and I’m sure that there have been some rather bad instances but for the most part FRG’s are a wonderful resource.
The point of the FRG is to keep the families and the soldiers informed of the goings on in the unit. But during deployments they turn INTO your family. The FRG is there to be the foundation of your military support system. The people that run the FRG work very hard to keep all the families in the know and keep the rumor mill down. Negative feelings and rumors are primary things that the FRG battles against. FRG’s are volunteer run organizations. They are there strictly for the welfare of the unit. They are not there to fundraise or to be the ladies luncheon club. The first place to look for your support system is at your first FRG meeting. There is a different level of friendship to be family with the spouses of the people that will actually be with your spouse.
With the rise of facebook and other social media sites the ability to “friend” others has become so convenient. I suggest looking for spouse/wife groups on facebook as soon as you figure out where you are going. There is always something going on around the area and in my experience wives love nothing more than to help each other. Everything from coffee’s and craft groups to workout groups and wine and cheese parties are now set up on FB for meet and greets.
Living the kind of life we live, we generally don’t spend a lot of time with people that we don’t form a bond with. Just the nature of how quickly things change and how much we move makes finding those people who will be our family very important.
No one can replace your blood families, but there is no bond so strong as the ones that tie you to your military family. The bonds that you make while in the military will be life long. It has been said that relationships formed during stressful times can sustain anything. Not all aspects of the military life are stressful, but it’s in those times that your military family will be what sustains you.