Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mind the Gap...

It has been a very interesting first few months for both FM and myself, as we attempt to navigate our new Army life physically separate but mentally together. The drastic change from a simple civilian couple pondering about the course our lives would take to full-on Army soldier and his girlfriend is one that has taken an astronomical toll on both of our psychological states. Thankfully, we’ve been able to iron out most issues, and are finally in a sort of “lull,” not that that’s actually a possibility as an Army family, but things have calmed down ever so slightly. The whirlwind of emotions, information, and radical change of lifestyle is what sparked my need to start this blog.

I am an adamant researcher. I didn’t spend four years studying for a BA, and then another two studying for my MA, to forget all of the time I spent squirreled away in the dimly lit corners of dusty libraries feverishly scanning through moldy old books (which, by the way, I entirely love the smell of). I always need to make sure I eek out every bit of data I can to be as informed as possible about any situation. Our venture into the military realm in 2012 became one of my greatest research projects, and continues to be so today. In actuality, I could probably finish my PhD with a dissertation on everything I’ve learned so far, and I know I’ve only grazed the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

However, throughout all of my research, and knowing that thousands of couples had experienced this daunting process before me, I had always hoped to stumble upon someone just like us, twenty-something long-term girlfriends/boyfriends of a new service member. Alas, I was disappointed with any of my research efforts. I found plenty of blogs and pages of military wives/husbands, and some for military girlfriends/boyfriends/fianc├ęs, but I always found myself unfortunately caught in between the full access and rights of the former group, and the virtual invisibility of the latter. Let’s face facts: Unless you’re married to your service member, the military does not want to know about you! (More on that frustration in a later post, I’m sure.)

FM and I have been together over four years; I found blogs on wives that had been married for only a few months after only dating a few beyond that, and others on girlfriends who had only been dating their service member a few weeks. We’ve been living together longer than some couples were married, sharing the emotional and financial burden of a married couple without the raised seal piece of paper that the state issues as proof of a “legitimate” couple. It’s hard to believe that few others have found themselves in a similar position, and even harder to fathom that so few post about their struggles with it.

I also wish my extensive digging would have unearthed more information on the beginning stages of training and Army life before FM left for Basic Combat Training (BCT). Sure, I found plenty of blogs and forums about what BCT was like, what to bring to BCT, what to do after BCT, but there seemed to be a noticeable gap between the platform and the information train. Where is the conductor? I need to change lines!! Other than online support groups, and the helpful but sometimes dismissive “Ask a Solider” webpage (Check the links tab to go directly to Family discussions), there was not much on preparedness for BCT for unmarried couples, what to expect, what your role as solider supporter would be, and how difficult training would be on both your solider AND yourself.

So, my ultimate goal for this blog is to reveal how FM and I have fared throughout the past few months of Army training, for a real life, every day look into an average American military relationship from the very grassroots beginning, pre-training. I’ll happily include the helpful things that I’ve researched and utilized up to this point, and what we plan to do going forward to make life somewhat easier for both of us. I’ll be very frank about my experiences so far, from the support system/quasi-spousal standpoint, because trying to make sour situations sweeter with a sugar coat will not be beneficial to anyone’s food for thought! Maybe knowing what’s really ahead of you will help you make some decisions about your, and your soldier’s, future, or at least allow for a place to vent, idea share, and try to enjoy the many difficult circumstances that undoubtedly stand before us as the backbones and cheerleaders of our military men/women.

Here goes nothing… HOOAH!

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