I have been with my husband for 11 years, when he went on his first tour which was to Iraq we weren’t married so the whole ‘Army life’ never really occurred to me and I plodded through the tour without any welfare or people in a similar situation to support me. The next few deployments came and again we remained unaccompanied for my career because as beautiful as Catterick is it was no place for me to work, so me and the children stayed in Liverpool and my husband commuted back on weekends.
Fast forward a few years and my husband was changing regiments and it was to a place where I could actually work, being a Sign Language Interpreter if there are no deaf people there is no work so finally I was in a position to be able to live as a family and still maintain my career.
I was SO excited! I was finally going to be surrounded by like minded people who would share the same experiences and understand all the struggles that come alongside being married to a soldier.
As amazing as my friends and family are they donʼt really understand and thatʼs fine but now I was going to be able to share experiences and obtain advice and support from people and the welfare system readily available from my husbands regiment!
How naive was I!
I donʼt think people understand how difficult it is to penetrate “the clique” especially when your children are older or if you donʼt have children. Everyone is lovely at mess functions and exchanging pleasantries but that is the absolute extent of it. Itʼs hard! Really really hard.
They have all supported each other through various tours and exercises for years and although I experienced these tours too it was in a completely different way and they had formed a bond that unless our partners were to go away again Iʼd never be treated in the same way. I was really surprised to see this clique so rife within the military community.
Alas though we move on. I have my children, my husband and my career and all was amazing!
2017…….the dreaded deployment is thrown into the mix; how was I going to manage? 9 month tour, two children, I’m a good five hours from my home town so family support is out of the question. People suggested using the others in my military community but in my experience this closeness wasnʼt there and certainly not to ask if they would watch my children for an hour after school so we really really thought about our options and we made a really difficult decision to send our children to boarding school in September. This was faced with so much criticism but it was what was right for our family and our circumstances at the time.
The difficult thing about being a working Army wife is that people presume youʼre okay because youʼre busy when in fact you really just try to keep as busy as possible to make sure you stay okay. We are six months into this 9 month deployment and RnR leave is imminent. What has been highlighted to me throughout this tour is that even if someone appears to be okay, still ask, check in, make plans with them.
As I have said I am 6 months in and not one person from my husbands regiment has checked in; not even the welfare team. Iʼve emailed them about something
completely unrelated but didnʼt even get a response back. What if this was my way of reaching out? Iʼll be okay because Iʼm resilient but what if I wasnʼt? What if
I was at home all the time with young children? What if I was struggling tremendously with my husband being away? It scares me that this could happen and that if it was happening to someone other than me would they cope as well? My husband is the only one from his regiment away so it is not like they are so undermanned they canʼt get to us all. Itʼs just one wife and zero communication.
If you know a military spouse, check in on those who have partners away, a little note through the door can make the world of difference, when youʼre miles away from home and nobody to rely on it can be such an isolating experience.
Shine a little light and spread a little love