My husband is an Army National Guard Soldier. We are a proud military family and we are also a very proud civilian family. When my husband’s uniform comes off, we are thrown into the reality of what consumes our life which includes juggling our different roles, or as I like to call them…hats.
Many don’t realize when you live in a civilian world and are a National Guard military family, how it impacts your day-to-day life. We are the odd man out, the oddball family who lives in a world of civilians. The husband who is away from time to time and the wife who works from home to make sure nothing falls apart while he is away. This world is different. Military uniforms are not normal when worn outdoors and when you do wear them, some may say nothing and others may say a lot. Often times people stare, children ask questions and thank you for your service.
Our Soldier has a regular, full-time civilian career he manages once the uniform comes off. It can be challenging and when a separation approaches, our lives are affected. The lifestyle can be night and day.
As a guard family living in both worlds, I’ve had to learn to stop being my own obstacle. If you are having trouble, know asking for help is okay. Letting your community know your transition from civilian to military, as well as from military from civilian is necessary. It is all part of the life cycle we live.
We accept the kind gestures the community offers. We get to enjoy the best of both worlds, despite the minor challenges. Nothing beats knowing our community is full of love, support and kind thoughts while my husband is away. Even if it takes a little explaining, it is well worth the explanation knowing that he proudly serves his country.
My advice to other National Guard families who may feel like they don’t belong in either community? Don’t let the comments of others who simply don’t understand this world upset you. Take the time to educate them. I have made it my mission in life to continue supporting families and spouses of the National Guard, to talk about what my husband does and why it is so important to our state and nation.
While living the National Guard life, you go through so many seasons and stages in which who you are may change. Your roles may change in the blink of an eye and your identity may take on new characteristics, but they all go into making you who you are. You are still the same person…an Army wife, mom, daughter, friend and so much more. Just like you must accept and embrace the change when your spouse deploys, you must also accept and embrace the change when he is home and the civilian hat goes back on. There is no normal. Our family lives in both worlds and we do it proudly in support of my husband, my family, and my country.
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Angela Caban is a military columnist and published author. Her husband, who was deployed in 2008, was one of the many soldiers impacted by the unprecedented activation of the Army National Guard. In 2010 she founded the Homefront United Network to provide assistance and family support through encouragement, educational articles and resources. She is dedicated to assisting National Guard and Reserve families with resources and ensuring no spouse or family member is left behind.
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