Being a Military Spouse is One of the Hardest Jobs there is.
Many will battle through PTSD with their significant other, and some will experience a loss unimaginable.
During the first two years of our marriage, Jeremy was still enlisted in the United States Air Force. I was, and still am, proud to be the wife of someone who so bravely served our country. But let me just say, being a military spouse was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Over our first anniversary my husband was deployed overseas to an undisclosed location to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was 19 years old, I’d been married for 9 months, and I suddenly found myself alone again.
I spent most of my summer sobbing into my pillow while at the same time trying to keep my husband’s spirit’s up whenever we were able to talk (which wasn’t often). Most of my thoughts revolved around what I would do if I got the call, if suddenly I found myself a widow. I lived in terror that entire summer, wondering anxiously if my man would make it home to me.
Praise God he did.
We made it through the battle, but we almost lost the war.
Shortly after coming home Jeremy was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a very common disorder for our military members to face. Just because your loved one comes home, does not always mean that they come home complete. Although he returned home to me a few months later, it felt like a stranger was sharing my bed.
We spent the next few years working to help him to recover from PTSD and to reestablish the connection we had before he’d left.
The realization of what he had put on the line for our country didn’t really hit me until a few years later.
One summer we were in Minnesota visiting for a week and were staying at his mom’s house. We were all sitting in the living room having casual conversation with the TV playing the background. The news flashed across the screen about a helicopter crash involving a group of Navy seals.
“Turn it up.” Jeremy said and we all turned out attention to the screen.
The news reporter gave the known details of the tragedy and then went on to say that one of the Navy Seals who had died was a Minnesota native.
“Nicholas P. Spehar, a resident of Chicago City, was among those declared dead.” The moment I saw his face I went into a sort of numb shock. Nick had been a childhood friend of mine. I’d grown up with him and his four siblings. His mother used to help take care of my sister so they were at our house almost daily.
As I stumbled off the couch and up the stairs on the verge of tears I was assaulted with memories of our childhood.
Nick was older than me by four years, but that didn’t stop him and his brothers from teasing us girls mercilessly. I remember many a race, barefoot through the forest, laughing and trying to stay just out of reach of those silly boys who wanted to pull our hair and make us squeal. Nick always came off as fairly serious, he was the second oldest, but he still had that “older brother” air about him. I just couldn’t get those memories out of my head and the reality that he was gone weighed heavily on my heart.
I don’t know why it hit me so hard, other than the fact that I suddenly realized how lucky I was. I had taken for granted as a military spouse the fact that my husband only came home with PTSD. At the time it had seemed like such a big deal, it was and it is, but at the same time I could have lost him.
All those feelings came rushing back; the sleepless nights, the fear gripping my chest as I would wait anxiously for him to call me to let me know he was okay after flying a mission.
My heart ached for Nick’s family; how unfair that they had to continue life without him while my husband came home safely to me.
Friends, our military men and women are so brave. I don’t even know how to express all that I’m feeling this Memorial Day as I think about the loss that so many have experienced. Being a military spouse, even for a short time, really opened my eyes to the struggle that these families go through on a daily basis. If you know someone who is in the military or a family who has experienced the loss of a loved while serving our country, please let them know how much you respect them. Freedom is not free friends. We all know this, and yet I don’t think we feel the full weight of it until it hits close to home.
For me it was a childhood friend who gallantly paid the ultimate price to help me retain my freedom.
May we never forget his sacrifice.
In Loving Memory,