In my personal life, I am dating a Private First Class United State Marine. His name is Rob, always known as, My Handsome. He has graduated from Parris Island in early June and is almost over with SOI or Marine Combat Training in N.C. We are eight days and counting until we hear what his new orders are for school. He has enlisted as a Reservist and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
We have been dating over two years. The first year he had lost two grandparents and experienced his parents going through a divorce. I shared my faith in God with Rob and how my faith propels me to a new day. I was his rock. I was there for him when he needed a hug or something to take his mind off the pain. While I continued in my entrepreneurial world, he kept me balanced with reality. He helped me push my limits physically and mentally. He helped me find time for the fun and play the world has the offer anyone who is young at heart.
Year two. I was getting more confident in my purpose in life while he started to look for his. I knew my faith was leading me to great places with or without him. I encouraged him to dream big and go after it. I continued to share my faith with him to assure him his next steps are leading him to a greater purpose. Dreaming led to a hard reality that some people are lucky and some people have to work hard after their dreams. Not everyone can be a NFL football player or famous musician. Through talking to my brother (a Corporal Marine) and friends, he decided to enlist in the USMC.
As I said before, he is eight days away from graduating MCT to move on to school to learn to do Engineering Operating. The school could be anywhere from three to 52 weeks. Nothing in certain. The Marines own him for the next six years. We haven’t spoken in three weeks and it feels strange. Even in his 13-week boot camp, we had letters through the mail. I am not complaining, I just stating the facts.
I was sharing all this with a friend who is in the military and he had said, “Welcome to the other side of the military.” Do you know someone who is in the military? Has a family member or significant other in the service?
10 ways to support those in and on the other side of the uniform:
1. Just be there for them. If he or she needs a night out, go out with him. If he or she wants to be left alone, leave them alone for a short while.
2. Check in on them. If I am left alone too long, I start to feel really lonely. A simple text message or voicemail (yes, I screen my calls) can brighten my day and pull me out of a funk.
3. Be yourself. I have a friend who loves to workout and eat frozen yogurt. Guess what? When we hang out, we workout or eat frozen yogurt. I know we can do other things but the fact she loves doing these things I am all for it.
4. Invite me over for lunch/dinner. I have business meetings across town in many places. Sometimes I just want to let my hair down, cry a little, or show my raw emotion. A public place may not be the best place for all that is bottled inside during my time of waiting.
5. Get creative. I am always on Pinterest pinning craft ideas. I had a friend call me up and ask if I needed help starting any crafts. I was truly touched.
6. Stop asking if we are ok. I get asked, “How are you doing…. how are you hanging in there?” These questions bother me. Some days are easier than others but let me tell you how I’m feeling when I’m ready.
7. Ask about our man/woman in uniform. Ask me again because I like talking about him.
8. Distract me. What is going on in your life? I want to hear how happy or upset you are right now. You’re getting married? That’s lovely! Please excuse my excessive tears because I miss my special someone, but go on. You’re upset? I’m upset, too about … let me bring out the list.
9. Pray with me. I am lucky Rob is still in the United States while I know other people who are enduring deployments and other situations I cannot imagine. Pray for us. Pray for God to give us a strong faith to endure and protect our loved ones.
10. Don’t judge/rush me. I have taken up dark chocolate. I eat it every night before I go to bed. Don’t judge me. Buy me some dark chocolate because it makes me feel better. Yes, I know he will be home soon, but don’t rush me out the feelings I am feeling because I need to experience them.
This blog post was not intended to hurt anyone but to educate those outside the realm of military what you can do for those who are in that circle. Everyone and every relationship is different and no military branch is the same. Be a friend and be there for those you know who are in and outside the military, and we will return the favor someday.