Is the military life that different from a “normal” civilian life?
Household Six will be answering questions like these throughout its series. Many people have a misunderstanding of the military life, and who better to tell you the truth than a military wife.
The answer to the question is an absolute yes. My husband, a Sergeant in the Army, refers to the military life and the civilian life as the Matrix. I agree.
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Many people know the Matrix as a movie wherein the plot contains real life and a life made. Life as we know it was created for us. A higher entity made the world we live in and only some understand and know the truth. This world that was created masks us from the real possibility and knowledge of suffering. Of course, there is more to the movie. But the plot is essentially this. According to Google, the meaning of the Matrix is something within or from which something else originates, develops, or takes form.
That entity is the United States Military. Our freedoms as they are now are because of men and women in the past that fought and died for them. And to keep such freedoms, our men and women work and fight to keep them, and to keep our country safe. Our country, our people, our values, rights, and freedoms are not indestructible. We may feel immortal, but our mortality is measured by the American military members. Our world exists because of them and their families.
You ask though how is the life different? Let’s start with small things and not focus on that they can die in service to the country, and service to people they don’t even know. Most of the world knows that a service member can die, but what about the small things in life. For one, let’s talk about the “job.” When a civilian starts a new job and after some time learns that they don’t enjoy or like it due to circumstances, they are free to quit said job at any time. In the military, the service member signs a contract. This contract states that they pledged their service for a certain amount of years. They can’t quit, walk off, and pay no nevermind to the military again. If a service member does this during their contract, they could be considered AWOL – absent without leave. This could lead to a negative discharge, possible court hearings, and worst-case scenario, jail time. Imagine having to deal with that when quitting your job at McDonald’s.
Don’t you get to travel, though? You ask. In a sense, that is true. Many military families travel around the world or the United States during a service member’s career. However, you don’t get to go where you want to all the time. Actually, most of the time, you don’t. You could end up in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California, upstate New York with all the snow, or even overseas in Korea or Germany. For some, this can be a dream come true or a nightmare in the flesh for others. It all sums up to that the military tells you where to go, and when you’re going. It doesn’t matter what is happening in your life. What matters is the military’s plan.
Another huge life changer is that the spouse of the military member has to accept that the service member is owned by the military. The service member is not yours, or your family’s. The service member may be married to you but their mistress is the military. When the military says jump, the service member asks, “how high?” They can be called into work at any time, day or night. They are gone between days, weeks, months, and years for training and deployments. The member is only allowed to go a 250-mile radius for trips without submitting paperwork. Vacations outside the radius have to have paperwork submitted and be approved before being able to go. Everything can be approved from the dates and location, and at the last minute, plans can change. The Commander could want to squeeze in some more training, or your spouse needs to cover a 24hr shift. Your weekend plans may be just you and your kids, or just you because your spouse has to work when they originally had the weekend off. Doctor’s appointments, school meetings, family visits can be missing one person regularly due to the military mistress. A military family has to accept that a lot of the time their military member will not be with the family. This is not including deployments.
This military spouse is often alone. The military spouse has to often deal with the calamities of life all by themselves. They have to be both parents. They have to be the cook, the maid, the accountant, the driver, maintenance, and the mechanic. With all this, they also need to be a supporter, a lover, patient and understanding without losing themselves, who they are and who they want to be.
This is not an article to demonize the military, because the military as a whole does what it can, but in some ways and instances, it falls short. This article is to present the military life and how it differs from the civilian life. It’s to help the civilian friends understand their military spouse friend when she breaks down about missing her family reunion three times in a row because of duty. It’s for the families of military members to understand they can’t make it for Christmas because block leave isn’t approved. It’s for everyone to understand that when a military family says “I don’t know if we can do that,” it’s the truth. Household Six will continue to be there for their military member. And we’ll be here for you to answer questions about our life. Until then, Household Six out.