I have received compensation for this post from TravelCenters of America. All opinions and work are my own.
When I was a kid, my family would all get together in San Diego and have a big cookout. We’d eat ourselves silly, and then watch fireworks on the beach. Between the sun, the sand and my family, I couldn’t have been happier.
When I was 18, I got married (crazypants) and followed my then-husband overseas to Korea where he was stationed. It was my first fourth of July away from home. I was so unbelievably homesick. We were so far from San Diego. Everything had changed. Military life was fresh and new (and honestly, quite scary). I remember standing with him on base, watching
Military life was fresh and new (and honestly, quite scary). I remember standing with him on base, watching a fireworks show with tears on my face. It was the first time that I felt the weight of my new reality as a military spouse. Tears streamed down my face- I felt so torn between my overwhelming pride in my country and my husband’s service, and my overwhelming heartache.
That’s kind of the way military life is. It’s good and bad all rolled up into one.
Three of my favorite Military Kids
My husband has been serving 15 years. That’s 15 years of moments that make my heart swell with pride. It’s promotions and hard work and “small town living” in the middle of a military base. It feels like stepping back into the 1950s, with kids riding bikes and community picnics (and a little too much gossip between the houses). It’s a built-in family that is there for you, and would bring you a thanksgiving dinner when you are stuck in a hotel room with strep throat – even if they have never met you before.
It’s a beautiful life.
It’s also incredibly hard. It’s kids crying because they miss their extended family. It’s me crying because gosh darn it the kids won’t listen and I am sick and my husband is away and I am so so lonely.
It’s moving every 2-3 years.
It’s giving up jobs and friends and opportunities.
It’s a lot of see you later.
It’s a lot of holding your breath and hoping for the best.
I don’t know many military families who would stop you on the street and complain about this life that our spouses volunteered us all for. But I do know a lot of military families who can use a hand up and a kind word.
This month, you can show your love to military families in a really simple way. All you need to do is swing by a TravelCenters Iron Skillet or Country Pride restaurant, and order something. For every select menu item ordered between June 28th-August 5th, they’ll be donating a dollar to the National Military Family Association (NMFA) who will use that money to serve thousands of military families.
NMFA is a charity that is near and dear to my heart. They have a program for military children that sends them to summer camp for free. These camps aren’t just your run of the mill camps- they are specially designed to support this population of kids. Many of them have a parent deployed or a parent who was wounded while serving. The camps give them a safe place to share their feelings, they teach them coping skills, and they bring them together and show them that they are not alone.
Our nation has been at war in one way or another for the past 15 years, which means the majority of these children have been raised knowing nothing else. They really need programs like NMFA’s Operation Purple to help them cope with their experiences.
If you don’t have a TravelCenter near you, I want to ask you to consider donating directly to the cause- and show your love for military families.
Donate here to support Military Families through the National Military Family Association.