As a military spouse of around 12 years, I certainly do not consider myself a veteran. But I have been around the block a time or two. This month, we honor our military spouses, and I am forever grateful for the civilian support that many of you provide to each and every one of us. I am additionally grateful for my military family, for there is none other like the loyalty of a military spouse.
Our family has moved seven times in 12 years. My children have been in countless schools, and we have endured four deployments. Most recently, my love returned from a seven-month deployment. To say that was a difficult endeavor is the understatement of the century. So, I thought I might share a little bit about what that looks like with each of you today in hopes not to gain your sympathy, but to open your eyes to the sacrifices that military spouses make and perhaps earn your respect. I’d like to share my journey alongside the spouses of our command, the hardships we endured, and the friendships we have created along the way! This crazy military life is a blessing beyond belief. Our hardships make us stronger, and we could not be prouder to represent our spouses on the home front, while they are out there fighting for our freedom, as heroes to this great nation.
Many times you read about the amazing things that our military members do while overseas. But while they were out there conducting numerous missions, countless flight hours, the families are back home executing the less glamorous, but entirely as important mission of getting 217 children to school each day, driving them to endless sports practices, music recitals, and scout meetings. While our spouses were traveling on detachments across the world, the families back home were pushing through the holidays and special events as best they could. Thanksgiving, Christmas, countless birthdays, Valentine’s Day, daddy-daughter dances, father-son laser tag outings, mother-daughter teas, and more. There were sicknesses, broken appliances, babies born, hospital visits, deaths, leaking roofs, flat tires, broken arms, not to mention hurricanes!
Simply put, the operation on the homefront is no simple task. My personal family spent Thanksgiving with the stomach flu, and travel thousands of miles to be with family at Christmas, where I found myself crying myself to sleep knowing that my children would wake up the next morning with gifts galore, but no daddy. From the moment my husband left, I watched my daughter become a different person. She was so angry, and took every ounce of it out on me. I ached with a pain I’d never felt before, each and every day. There were times in the deployment I thought that we might never be able to come out from this battle. You see, mom can’t make pancakes as good as dad, mom doesn’t do tickle fights as good as dad, and mom certainly can’t give hugs as good as he does.
Mom also was the primary disciplinarian, and wearing two hats is incredibly complicated. Forever in my mind is the night when I tucked my baby girl in quietly, and she whispered to me through tears, “I am afraid that daddy will never come home. What if his plane crashes in the ocean?” Fears no 8-year-old should have to comprehend. I am not alone in these experiences. Military spouses everywhere, every day, are dealing with deployments. Dealing with being moved. And all too often doing it alone. Right there with a military member, I have no greater respect than for the military spouse. The one who simply can’t help who she loves, and has been brought into a life that she simply could not prepare for.
It’s difficult for our civilian friends to understand. But know this, for every hardship we endure, we are that much stronger. For every washing machine, coffee maker, dishwasher we fix, we are that much more savvy. For every flat tire we change, and mile we travel we are more well-versed. For every tear we wipe or shed ourselves, we are stronger. Ever the patriot is the military spouse. You will always see a flag flying high in our yards, regardless of political environment. We serve our country, alongside our military members with pride that is unquestionable. Dedicated her life to our service members and to our country, the military spouse is one to know. Be careful when you meet us, because you will love us deeply, and then we will leave you, for duty calls. But know this… When you have friended a military spouse, you have a friend for life! Years may pass, and there may be miles spread, but she will be there in an instant if you needed her. You see, she knows what it’s like to need someone.
So the next time you see those moving vans in your neighborhood, and a frenzied mama running around chasing kids, or a lonely young wife with wide eyes… Stop by. Bring her cookies, a cup of coffee or a bottle of wine, because heavens knows she needs it. Welcome that military spouse with open arms, and enjoy the time that you have with her, because it will be priceless.
About the Author
Kelli Miller, originally from Grand Rapids, MI, moved to Jacksonville in 1998 to attend Jacksonville University. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Communications, Kelli went on to work in marketing for real estate. It was during that time when she met the love of her life, Alan D Miller, a Naval Flight Officer. Six months later, with a ring on her finger, she was embarking on her first of seven moves in 12 years. She and her husband have two beautiful children ages 8 and 5. Kelli is an entrepreneur at heart and after moving all over the country and staying home with her babies for five years, she started her own skin care business, which is now flourishing. Her husband is currently the Commanding Officer of the VP-10 Red Lancers, a P-8 squadron at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. It has been a busy couple of years as she dedicated much time to the Red Lancer spouses and families, while her husband worked countless hours with the squadron. Soon they will say goodbye to their Jacksonville military family and head to Tampa, Florida where she plans to focus more on her Rodan + Fields business and looks forward to some wonderful family time.