Being a military family is one of the most rewarding callings in life. It’s a life full of excitement and a life full of challenges. I recently had the opportunity to talk with the Kraemer family, Kevin, Christine, Caydence and Conley, about their life as a military family and what they would like their civilian friends to know about this life.
Like many military families, Christine has found that military life can sometimes be glamorized making it seem as though it’s easy to handle. But the frequent moves, new schools, and deployments are often difficult for families.
Kevin and Christine see the good in these moves they have made the past 13 years. They both feel they have been very fortunate to have made so many new and wonderful friends at each place. Navy friendships are long lasting and cherished so much, they said.
One challenge though, is that sometimes the people they meet outside of the military community don’t understand the military life and don’t really care to understand. Christine talked about how some even suggest that it’s an unstable life for their children, something she wishes she could change in their eyes. But, military families have an amazing ability to adapt really quickly as they are used to the frequent moves.
Christine praised the ability of military families to seek new jobs quickly, identify the best neighborhoods to live in, the church that matches their beliefs in the community, as well as sports leagues for their children so they can continue to do something they love. Overall, they know how to dig into a community to find all the resources and activities they need to fit. Christine just asks that civilians see this effort they put in to be a part of the community and ask that military families be accepted as members who truly care and want to be there even if it is for a short time. Christine pointed out though that it is still a struggle for her children as they meet and make new friends, that their life may not seem normal to them, but it is for military kids.
Schools are one of the most important things Christine and Kevin worry about when they receive orders to a new duty station. Like many families, the house they decide to buy or rent is often based on where the school system that is thriving and a good fit for their children is located. Christine feels very strongly that schools could and should do a better with helping military children who move schools frequently. It’s not always fun, in fact it can be a nightmare and it’s not something that most military families enjoy doing. Friends and favorite teachers are left behind each time they move. Christine also said she has experienced her children getting left behind because the school knows that they are a military family that will be moving again soon. The Kraemer family wants everyone to know that it’s a very hard transition for their children when they have to switch schools. They always hear about all these programs for military kids but they have never been offered to their family or seen within the schools their children have attended. It’s so hard to get into advanced classes at new schools because they are new to the system and they have no connections or referrals, to help boost them. Christine said she wants nothing more than for her children to succeed in their schools and to thrive and be offered the same opportunities as other students who are not from military families. It’s so important!
And similar to the challenges their children face with changing schools, Christine and Kevin both touched on the challenges for the non-military member of the family to pursue a career. It’s so hard to carry on a career with constant moves to new states that require different certifications, licensure, or even credentials. Military spouses don’t always have connections within the community to help them when seeking that career and are often overlooked when applying for jobs. Christine and Kevin want the civilian world to know that most spouses seeking jobs or careers in their new communities want to work and are very reliable and trustworthy even if their time there will be short. They want to be involved and also be able to provide financial support for their families when needed.
The part of military life that is most often misunderstood and hard for those outside this community to relate to, is deployment. Christine talked about how hard deployments are for their family, but how it’s something so misunderstood by our civilian friends as well. Christine and Kevin both said they believe deployments can make or break a relationship. But, they want others to know, that deployments do truly make married couples stronger and able to make it through hardships that other couples may just give up on.
For military families, time together is never taken for granted and is always special in their household, not just during the holidays or breaks from school. Of course the negative part is the deployed parent misses huge life events, holidays, and even vacations for the duration of their deployment. This is very hard on the family that is left at home and also on the deployed family member. That time apart is never gotten back.
Even when they are home, long working hours are just apart of the job. It’s definitely not a 9 to 5 job for Kevin. Christine shared that most days Kevin is leaving for work well before the sun comes up and usually is home after dinner when the sun is down. And, once he is home, he’s often studying and continued flight planning sometimes invade family time together, but they all understand that it’s necessary for the type of job Kevin has with the Navy.
Christine shared that, for her, as the non-military parent at home, her focus is on being a parent and holding the home together to create as much normalcy as possible for their children. Christine also shared about having to overcome forced independence since her spouse has such long work hours even when not deployed. This is something Christine believes is the hardest for civilian families to understand. Military work schedules are not consistent and even though they are home they have very long work days.
Caydence and Conley had some great things to say about being a military family that they would love for their civilian friends to know too. They love the over the hump parties and field days that are celebrated during deployment to boost morale while a loved one is away. The music concerts on base for military families are also a bonus and so appreciated by all of the families because it is something special for them to enjoy free of charge! Another awesome advantage is the opportunities for families to tour aircraft or carriers with their military parent. It’s a personal tour that not just anyone can take! The awareness of world affairs is also heightened in a military family home, even for the children. They are more aware of terrorism around the world and will worry for their parent that is away. Caydence and Conley would like our civilian friends to know sometimes it’s hard being a military child and it can be scary and sometimes it stinks, but there are also a lot of great things too!
This family is certainly proud to be a military family and apart of the United States Navy!