Living in a military family exposes everyone to exceptional positive and negative situations. On the positive end, a military spouse is virtually guaranteed some sort of lifetime income in terms of benefits (provided they aren’t dishonorably discharged or go AWOL). Military life also pushes discipline into a family — or at least it can. This is a good thing.
Children may be raised to be self-sufficient, strong and resilient; able to push through difficulties like their parent in the service. Military children move a lot, and that means they’ll need to confront adult difficulties early on. This can be a challenge, but it can also be beneficial in terms of character development.
There’s also deployment and homecoming to consider. Your spouse may have been away for years at a time. Oftentimes, military personnel get to go on leave — but not always. Different deployments have different conditions. Being without your spouse in your life can be difficult, but it can also serve as an offhanded blessing if you both are wise about the time you spend together, as well as apart.
Still, homecoming can be difficult for the soldier who has lived near combat (or in the midst of it) for an extended period of time. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is real, and even if your loved one manages to avoid this, adjusting to civilian life may prove to be very hard. The difficulty of homecoming is something of an open secret in the military. Plan for this by helping your spouse feel appreciated.
Challenge coins — awarded for varying reasons — have a long military history and can help show support towards your spouse in terms of his/her career. It shows you honorably respect your spouse for the personal, patriotic sacrifice he/she has made. Knowledge of that respect and honor are extremely important to psychological homeostasis.
When your military spouse knows he/she is appreciated, that you respect and honor what he/she has done, your spouse can remember that when other memories of his/her deployment may arise. Any conflict has its brutalities. There are metaphysical considerations some aren’t really equipped to deal with and must now unexpectedly
Consider Chris Kyle (who Clint Eastwood’s film American Sniper was based on). There’s a scene in the film where he has to kill a child and the child’s mother after they — guerrilla-style — try to throw a grenade at American troops. Can you imagine having to make that sort of decision? You save American lives and you advance the cause of right…but at what cost? The film is a fictionalized account of Chris Kyle’s life, but such decisions are sadly all too real.
These kinds of situations are painful. They can keep a person up at night and usher in hidden quotients of stress that continually impact behavior. When your spouse knows you understand some element of this — and you respect and honor him/her — it can help your spouse manage difficult decisions and/or close losses which he/she may have experienced during combat. Challenge coins, like those of Embleholics, can be made how you like and are a treasure to your veteran spouse.
Agony And Ecstasy
The military teaches discipline, which many veterans retain throughout the rest of their lives. Life-long relationships are forged, and government assistance — in terms of healthcare and other benefits — become available. But there’s life-risk to consider, as well as psychological consequences of war.
Some of the best tactics in overcoming the enemy of fatigue, depression, and PTSD involve demonstrating the value of your soldier. Show your spouse you honor, respect, appreciate, and love him/her.
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Stephanie is the founder of Military Travel Mama; she is the wife of a military professional and mother to two children. Follow her blog for more about military life, military discounts, family trips, healthy eating, and parenthood.