Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We are an Army family.

Our family has many labels.  We are a family built through adoption.  We are a family with a child who has special needs.  We are a homeschool/public school family. We are a gymnastics family. First and foremost, we are an Army family. My husband retired 4 years ago after serving 22 years in the Army and 2 years in the Minnesota National Guard.

My husband and I dated through high school, and he joined the Minnesota National Guard his Junior year in high school.  He went to Basic Training between his Junior and Senior years in high school.  He finished his Advanced Training after his Senior year.  He swore up and down that he would never go on active duty because “that is no life for a family.” After a year of college, he made the decision to go on active duty.  That decision made the Army the life for our family.  

What did that mean for our family?  
We moved frequently, especially the first four years we were married.  During that time period, we lived in Colorado, Alabama, Texas, and North Carolina.  

"Home is where the Army sends you."

I have a heart that has this saying, and it has little hearts hanging from it listing places we have lived during my husband’s 22 years in the Army.  We have not always loved every place we have been sent to; however, each place has been our home.  We have stories for each location.  Life is what you make of it.

  1. Fort Carson, Colorado
  2. Fort Rucker, Alabama
  3. Fort Hood, Texas
  4. Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  5. Fort Benning, Georgia/Minnesota (He attended school, and I went back to my parent’s house since our house in North Carolina sold in less than 3 weeks.)
  6. Fort Rucker, Alabama (just under 6 months)
  7. Hanau, Germany
  8. Germany/Bosnia (This is a broken heart since we were apart while he deployed.)
  9. Fort Rucker, Alabama
  10. Monterey, California
  11. Fort Monroe, Virginia  (My husband did 5 short notice trips to Iraq and Afghanistan while he was stationed here.  Fortunately, none of them were longer than a month.)

During this time, we have met some of the most amazing people.  We have developed friendships that withstand time and distance.  Moving away from our friends and having them move away from us is hard, but we often see them again.  We have places to stay and friends to visit as we travel. That is a really cool part of this lifestyle.  

Our kids
We didn’t have children until our last year in Germany when we adopted J.  He has traveled to some really cool places in Europe and has no memory of it. We adopted S from Bulgaria while we lived in Alabama the last time.

It was during our last tour in Alabama that we first started sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. I remember seeing military kids on TV sending their moms and dads away, and I thought, “Those poor kids.”  Then I realized that could be our family.  Up until that point, it hadn’t crossed my mind because...this was what our family did. This is what our friends and their families did.  It was our way of life.

Change of Command.jpeg
My husband's Change of Command ceremony (November 2001).

My children didn’t think twice about attending Change of Command ceremonies or promotion ceremonies.  In their young minds, it always meant cake.  Attending the movies on post meant that the “Star Spangled Banner” was played prior to the movie starting and you stood for it.  It was strange for them the first time they attended a civilian movie theater.  They asked when we had to stand.

Even though my husband is now retired, we still identify as an Army family.  My kids know what it means.  They know what it is like to be the new kid. They know what it is like to move away from friends. They are understanding of friends whose parents have to leave home to serve. It wasn’t always easy, but it was OUR life.

I will be on the couch with chocolate appreciating our veterans, my family, and our life.


  1. I love the idea of having the heart with all of the places you have been. I wanted to take a moment to thank your husband for his service and you for supporting him. God Bless.

  2. Hi Mary,
    I would like to contact you about a project for children with special needs but I cannot find your email address. Mine is dgrauzam@specialneedsessentials.com. I hope you will get in touch!