By Shannon Randol, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
The title of this blog is not harsh it was the truth. I didn’t know any of the three letter acronyms my husband mixed into regular ol’ civilian sentences (yes, civilian, that’s what those military folk say), and I had no previous knowledge about what military life entailed because I had no friends or family who had served.
I was a fish out of water—semi-pun intended.
After two years of long distance shenanigans (while dating, he was stationed in Virginia while I was attending college in Florida), I moved up to the “Commonwealth State” after we got married, to support him as he got ready to ship off for deployment number two.
I literally planned our wedding for nine months with the notion the Navy wasn’t going to allow him to show up. I was planning on marrying a cardboard cutout for nearly nine months.
After three months of becoming a temporary Virginia state resident, my husband began work-ups (out to sea trips to prepare for the real deal) for a couple months–gone for a week and back for a few days, gone for a few days and back out for a few days, etc.
And then eventually, it was time for his deployment.
I was going to be living in a house by myself (nothing new) in a new state with no friends or family. While I got the better end of the stick when comparing straws to my husband, it was unchartered territory—like the whole entire thing.
So this is how I kept sane:
1. Work Out: There was nothing more relaxing than exhausting myself each and every day, well almost. I would print out a photo of a favorite celebrity body part and work to transform mine to match.
2. Make a friend: Seriously, not all military wives are the stereotype. Plus, it’s nice to have someone who understands the situation you’re in, because you can only hear so many times, “You signed up for this.”
3. Contemplate future careers: I became a furniture re-modeler, sold hand-painted shoes and tried my best to plan out what possibilities would be available after he came home.
4. Sign up for 5ks: I did so many weird fun runs, but it gave me something to look forward to and helped knock off days on the countdown until he came home.
5. I learned not to be afraid to ask for help with your sanity.
The Red Cross offers many programs to help military families. At the time, I only knew they were the ones who’d send him home if a death occurred stateside, and obviously I didn’t want that scenario to play out.
1. Provide military families with support before a deployment by holding support groups, workshops and help after deployments by assisting with reconnection.
2. A hotline number is set up for emergency financial assistance. You can view their terms, here.
3. Numerous resources for military veterans for when they are transitioning out of the military life.
But most importantly, the Red Cross is there during times of peace and war. Think of them as an extra friend who can help you find the solution to any question you need answered.