Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have made the ultimate military sacrifice--their lives. Although we can't thank them, we can more gratefully bless those now on active duty by better understanding present-day military life. So as a former military spouse for two decades (1980--2001), here is what I mean by military trade-offs.
In my early years as a Navy wife/dependent, I'd often hear, "I used to be in the Navy, but I got out because I didn't like someone else running my life." Or a bystander would quip, "Besides, it's tough to find a spouse who will put up with all of those absences." Yes: and yes, both are true. Someone else does have control of your life, and you do have to put up with all of the time apart: two huge significant trade-offs. I first understood the "trade-offs" when Michael had to go to sea after fifteen hours of labor with our first unborn child. He got a message that he'd had a son. I got the message--without anyone saying it--that I couldn't be a weenie any longer. I needed to become a warrior's wife.
But thank God, my husband always returned. Yes, he was gone 70 percent of the children's growing years, and that is something Michael regrets. But the trade-offs for me?
Knowledge of how to budget and manage bills.
Stable pay is coming in, which is now a consistent retirement.
Confidence about vacationing by myself with our four children.
Shopping privileges at military exchanges and commissaries.
Competent family medicine in military hospitals.
Interesting moves in the USA and abroad.
Help through Military Family Services on the bases.
Wonderful friends all over the USA and Europe.
Fun dinner parties with other military members.
A disciplined family lifestyle where all of the children did their best.
So today, Memorial Day, May 30, 2022, if you see a military member, thank them. They give so much of their life for all of us that we as Americans will never know.
2 Chronicles:8 --"With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles."
Martha Wild King, M.Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.