This one is for those of you living with, or considering living with, a Veteran. I am proud of all our service men and women for their sacrifices and service, so we can live free, in a country with lots of opportunity and dreams. I am also proud to say that my husband is one of them. That is why wanted to start with a little story about our lives after the Military and to give you a little sneak peak of what we go through on a day to day basis.
10 years ago, I met my husband right after he got back from his first deployment. At that time, we were both 20 years old and I had no idea what it is like to date a Soldier. There are lots of rules. After I got a glimpse of what all dating him involved, we got married. Nothing ever felt more right. I have met and married the person I love and want to grow old with.
After 4 years of marriage, he came down on orders to deploy a second time. The day I had to let him go, was one of the hardest days of my life. This year of sacrifice, uncertainty, and worry was dark and hard to bear.
Now, it’s been 5 years since my husband and I decided to move from Germany to the USA after we left the Army. It’s been a challenge, for me as a German to adept to a new country and for him to adapt to the civilian lifestyle. I am sure Veteran families can relate when I say, things are not always easy for our former Soldiers. He struggled to find his place in the civilian world. Everyone thinks differently than he is used to and the rules have changed from what he knew in the Military (kind of how I felt when I first started dating him while he was a Soldier). Anyway, this Veteran’s Day, I wanted to give people a small glimpse of what it is like to live with a Veteran.
Do not disturb the routine
Even long after we have left the Army, my husband despises change, preferring instead a strict routine. If anything changes, he will let us know and he will keep letting us know until everything is back in order. Army life means following strict rules and routines this will follow you anywhere you go.
Best seat of the house
When you go out for dinner with a Veteran, let them decide where to sit. They will probably decide to sit at a table where they have the best view over the entire restaurant and will, most likely, want to sit against a wall so nothing can surprise them.
Girls, do you remember those great dates with your Veteran/Soldier, where you sat and talked for hours while enjoying a great meal? No? Neither do I! Most Veterans became exceedingly efficient at eating a long time ago. In a world where the best-case scenario for taking too long to eat meant they didn’t get to eat all of their food, it is unsurprising that they will frequently finish their meal before you. Don’t get me wrong, they may love to sit and talk, but they will eat the meal you spent hours making in only a little less time than it took for the food to reach their plate, and they will have eaten well.
Let them lead
If you find yourself in a situation with your Veteran where you are at a very crowded area like a festival or some sort of large gathering (which you probably had to drag them to anyway), let them be in charge of which way to go or where they want to stand. Crowds like that may “trigger” them, causing them to feel overwhelmed. So, help him out and be considerate.
Ok listen up, I cannot urge this enough. DO NOT watch any kind of Military related movies with him/her. They will most likely talk the entire movie and point out every single thing that is not correct. So please, if you are like me and enjoy a quiet movie night with your honey, pick something that is not Military related. You will thank me for this one!
Be prepared for the language used by most Veterans. They seem to know more four-letter words than you probably even knew existed and they are as hesitant to use these words as you would be to say “good morning”. In addition, they are also experts at insulting each other. They don’t really mean it, usually, so be prepared to ignore a lot of this.
Let’s go on a trip
Ladies and gentleman, let me tell you; there is one thing my husband does that no one (except probably other Veterans) does better than him, and that is packing a bag or suitcase. Not only is everything we need for the trip accounted for, not only is everything packed in the order it will be used, but the best part is, the suitcase closes without any struggle. Yeah, you heard me right. Zip, closed, BAM!! Still blows my mind.
Friends for life
Since my husband left the Army, he gets this urge to meet up with his old battle buddies every once in a while. The bond between Veterans and the people they served with is something that we as wives/girlfriends/civilians will never fully understand. It is something more than just friendship or even family, so just let them meet up. Don’t try to tag along or talk them out of it. Just let them enjoy their time with their battle buddies while they talk for hours about the good old days.
Don’t even try!!
You know those good old birthday surprise parties? I have to advise against it. Don’t ever surprise a Veteran. I mean like, NEVER. Don’t even wake them up with a loud noise or quick movements. It will end bad and you may get hurt. They have really good reflexes…
Be aware that a Veteran can have a hard emotional shell. They had to learn to bury their emotions and continue the mission. It is not always easy for them to show compassion or even simply to ask for help. I’m not sure I will ever fully understand how my husband thinks. I do know that all we can do is to love our Veterans unconditionally. We can be considerate, caring, and patient with them. Just understand that it is not personal, it’s just the way they were trained to be.
For a first-hand perspective, I have also asked my husband to say something:
“I would like to begin by saying thank you to all of my fellow Veterans. I also want to point out that some of my wife’s experiences are due, in part, to my PTSD, so experiences may differ.
Everything that Corina said is pretty much spot on, so I won’t recap anything but the last point. Being a combat Veteran, I was asked to do a lot of things that most people, blessedly, will never have to see or do. I don’t want to meet the person that isn’t changed by the stuff my brothers and sisters and I went through. Often, we don’t realize what an emotional trauma we have endured until after we get out. Then, we end up trying to face these wounds while also trying to adapt to an alien world (civilians are weird…)
During the worst of it, the support of my brothers and sisters and the love of my wife is what kept me going. They were my anchor to reality and the reason I am still here. There is nothing you can give your Veteran that is greater or means more than patience, love, and understanding. To my wife and all of those like her, Thank you for being our tether when we needed to find our way back and our rock when we needed strength. (You know, emotional strength… not the other kind…)”
I hope I have been able to help you see things a little clearer and to give you an idea of what you should be aware of while living with a Veteran. I understand that everyone is different and that each Veteran is unique. The above may not apply to everyone, but these are some of the experiences I have had over 9 years of marriage to a wonderful Veteran, husband, and father. #supportourtroops, #helpaveteran
How long have you been with your Veteran and what kinds of quirks have you noticed over the years?
I would love to hear about it, why not comment below?!
Thank you to every Veteran for your service!
Also, thank you to
every family of our Veterans
for the support and sacrifices you make!
© 2017, firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights reserved.