“I didn’t choose this life. He did,” I casually joked to a fellow military spouse once.
“But when you choose him, you choose it to. By marrying him, you said yes to the Navy,” she said.
Wow. Up until that very moment, this idea that I picked military life for me never entered my brain.
Up until that moment, I felt like I didn’t have a choice in the matter. Up until that moment, I felt like military life was tossed upon me and I had to accept it and move on.
Now I see things a little differently.
My husband volunteered for military service one month before I met him. He raised his right hand and took the oath in August 2001.
He volunteered to serve in the Navy for a few practical reasons:
- He needed in-state tuition to afford his out-of-state college.
- He needed cash to pay for college.
- He wanted an adventure.
- He wanted to help people.
I joke that a Navy recruiting poster that said “Our Engineers don’t work in cubicles” was the REAL reason he joined the military.
Now nearly 14 years later, the 4 reasons he decided to stay in the Navy aren’t exactly the same. Every time he accepts new orders and we PCS, we, as a military family, are choosing to serve and sacrifice for our country. We are answering the call to serve.
Why do we serve? Why does my husband stay in the Navy?
The reasons for my husband’s military service are still simple and practical. He serves today because:
- We have health care coverage for us and our children.
- TSP is the best retirement investment plan. Period.
- We get the adventure of living in different parts of the country for short periods of time.
- He is able to work with many dedicated service members who have taught him how to be a leader in his community.
- He is able to be a leader for young service members.
- His job is challenging and rewarding.
- He has a lot of responsibility in his job.
- He helps people.
- People help him.
- People help our family.
- We meet and get to know military friends who become our instant family.
- And for a thousand more abstract reasons that are difficult to put into words.
During some challenging moments, I often ask myself “why do we do this? Why do we continue to move every 2 years? Why does my husband deploy and leave his children to help people in another country? Isn’t there an easier way?”
Of course, there is an easier way.
But that way isn’t the way for us. This complicated life, military life, with its highs and lows, quirks and uncertainty, is the way for us.
That’s why we serve.