When our son enlisted, we joined the ranks of thousands of military families who don’t live on a base. Since our son was unmarried, we, along with his fiancé, were his support system. But away from a base, we had no support system of our own.
People in our community of civilians were only aware of what we were going through when we made it obvious. For me, that was awkward and made me feel uncomfortable and even a little resentful. I don’t like standing out, but I don’t like hiding.
Turns out, though, the problem was me. I was expecting the people around me to identify with what I was feeling when they had no frame of reference. I figured this out one day when I was having coffee with a close friend.
I opened up about how I felt. She listened and nodded her head. “I’m so glad you’ve shared this with me. I really don’t know what you’re feeling because the situation is so foreign to my experience. But now I get it.”
Her response showed me that I needed to trust those around me enough to share my experience so they could help. The more I did that, the less I felt like a lonely military mom.
Every community has people in it with close family members serving in the armed forces. If they’re not opening up about their experience, but you’d like to reach out, here are three ways:
1. Let them know that you care about their loved one by offering to pray.
2. Volunteer to be a sounding board when they need to talk or vent.
3. Ask for updates about the family member who’s serving.
We’re not all going through the same life experiences, but we can band together and support each other when things get tough. It starts by just asking some caring questions. Is there a military family in your community that you’d like to reach out to?