The Silent Ranks
It’s Fleet Week here in New York City. Since I don’t know anyone in the Navy, I did the next most logical choice for this week’s guest post. I enlisted fellow college alumni Tracey Koast to provide a glimpse into the life of a military family.
Tracey describes herself as “a Jersey girl who has been happily married to an Army Soldier for the past six years. HOOAH! She is blessed with a daughter and son who she loves to pieces even though they drive her nuts. Tracey currently resides in West Point, NY.” She is also a die-hard Bon Jovi fan. Tracey blogs at My Life Needs An Easy Button about her “observations, successes, and failures about parenting, military life and anything else I encounter.”
Being a military family is like being a part of a secret society — a special language, an unusually strong common bond, and very few members. Less than 1 percent of Americans are in our military with a little over half being married. 1 That’s a mere 880,000 of the over 323 million Americans living in our country today.2 Among that small community there is pride, sacrifice and strength that few outsiders will every know.
As a military wife and mother to two small children with a deployed spouse, I frequently hear the phrase “I don’t know how you do it.” The funny thing is, I hear that not just from civilians, but also from fellow military spouses who have been there themselves or soon will be. To be honest, most days I don’t know how I do it. It’s not an easy life. Relocating over and over again doesn’t just mean packing up your things and fitting them into a new house. It’s making that house a home, again. Saying goodbye to your friends who have become family and finding new ones, not just for yourself, but for your kids. Possibly leaving a job and/or a volunteer position that you loved. Learning the ins and outs of the new post. Heck, possibly some new acronyms just in case the rest wasn’t enough to keep you on your toes! Having a deployed spouse adds even more to the mix of emotions. I’m overwhelmingly proud of my husband, what he stands for, and all that he does. I’m sad more often than not that he’s missing our son’s milestones – walking for the first time, learning to throw a ball, even his first ear infection. It hurts my heart to know he’s missing every moment, big or small. I’m driven crazy with no husband to relieve me at dinnertime or even to run out for a hair cut. “Mom, I need this. Mom, I need that.” Dirty diapers. Homework. Dance class. Soccer practice. PTO meetings. Spouses’ club events. Laundry. Food shopping. Life.
But here’s where being a military family pays itself tenfold. People who I barely know, neighbors who have known me less than a month, will do just about anything for me. They offer fresh cookies straight from the oven to me and the movers as I arrive to yet another post. They baby sit on a moments notice. They go running down the street, 7 months pregnant to see if anyone has Pedialyte because my little girl is sick. They sleep at your house, leaving their own husband and family at home, and take you to the hospital in the middle of the night to deliver another military brat because your husband isn’t home. And every single one of them knows I would do the same. As proud of I am of my man in uniform, I am equally as proud of the women, men, and children who stand by their husbands, wives, partners, fathers, and mothers. We are a group like no other. We stand tall. We stand strong. We are the silent ranks.
The Silent Ranks
I wear no uniforms, no blues or army greens
But I am in the Army in the ranks rarely seen
I have no rank upon my shoulders – salutes I do not give
But the military world is the place where I live
I’m not in the chain of command, orders I do not get
But my husband is the one who does, this I can not forget
I’m not the one who fires the weapon, who puts my life on the line
But my job is just as tough. I’m the one that’s left behind
My husband is a patriot, a brave and prideful man
And the call to serve his country not all can understand
Behind the lines I see the things needed to keep this country free
My husband makes the sacrifice, but so do our kids and me
I love the man I married, Soldiering is his life
But I stand among the silent ranks known as the Army Wife