It has been said that soldiers on the battle field become like a band of brothers. The bond between men (and now women) on the battlefield or under combat conditions becomes unbreakable as they form a brotherhood. While the soldiers become a sort of brotherhood the wives left behind become a sisterhood. When I was in the hospital in 2013 in Tampa, FL, about to give birth to our third child, Jim was returning from Afghanistan. Unsure if Jim would make it before I gave birth, I had a slew of wives enlisted to help me. As I started to get comfortable in my hospital bed, a nurse was hooking me up to all the necessary monitors, when my friend and fellow military wife, Erin, walked in. Looking up from the monitors the nurse said to me, “Is this your sister?”
I smiled and said, “No, she’s not my sister. But over the next day or two you will see several of my military wife sisters.” All the women that helped me during that labor and delivery, as well as all the other military wives along my journey, had become a sisterhood to me. In Jim’s absence they were my people. With each deployment we endured there was always at least one military wife (usually many) that became my family. They were there when I needed them most, whether it was a cup of coffee and conversation, a shoulder to cry on, someone to work out with, someone to watch the kids, or even to be there at the hospital while I prepared to give birth. (Jim did make it to the hospital seven hours before the birth.) Military wives were always there, they were always my support and strength, and I hope I was that for them.
In my experiences the sisterhood was always open and welcoming to others, ready to serve as the support network for anyone who needed it. In Tampa, where we were last stationed, I spent most Friday afternoons with a group of wives outside socializing while our kids played. We would set up our chairs in sort of a semi-circle talking and hanging out while watching over our kids. As families moved, the faces sometimes changed, but the support never did. The circle of chairs never closed allowing new wives to become a part of the group. When spouses deployed we were always there to provide whatever was needed, and when I needed support those wives always had my back. Each place we were stationed had different faces and my experiences were different, but what never changed was the instant bond between wives. Our shared experiences of deployments, TDYs, PCSs, etc. no matter what branch of service or where we had previously been stationed gave us an instant bond. The love, care, and support the sisterhood of wives provided not only for me, but my kids as well, was always the same. Those wives, that support is really what got me through. When Jim was gone, when another move was imminent, when things looked dark there was always a wife to lift me up.
I truly believe to not only survive, but to thrive as a military wife you have to have a good support network. Even if it is not military wives, who I think are absolutely amazing with a unique understanding of military life, it is important to build a community of support. I know the trends these days are toward social media, which is great and has its place, but Facebook won’t bring you a casserole when you need one or watch your kids when something comes up. It is essential to surround yourself with people you can count on when you need it, because if you are a military wife you will need it at some point.