Published: December 10, 2021
Along for the Ride: Military Life is Hard; Blue Star Families Can Help
“The hardest part of being a military family is honestly having plans ruined,” said Felicia, a military spouse. Military families spend many moments apart, moments that many of us take for granted—holidays, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and even just family dinner. “We learn to write things in pencil so you can change them, but there are those special events that really matter,” Felicia shared. “Many of those memories for me have involved my husband not being able to be present when we thought he could be.”
That’s the reality of military life. You count down the days until the end of a deployment with dreams of time together as a family, your kids having both parents at home, and maybe even getting a much-needed break. Then, homecoming day finally arrives, and it’s amazing. Truly. It’s a beautiful thing to reunite with your partner. Your friend. Your greatest supporter. But, real life sets in, and the truth is, reintegration can be tricky. You have to adjust the routine you clung to so tightly and figure out how your service member fits back into the equation. Plus, those dreams of spending all that time together? Well, they don’t always come true.
As a former military child, Veteran, and current Air Force spouse, Felicia understands how challenging this life can be. “My husband has had three deployments in his career, but his assignment at our last duty station was honestly harder than a deployment,” she recalled. “He’d be gone for weeks, come home for a night, and then be off again. Often, trips would get changed or adjusted while they were gone. We didn’t receive the support that you get when your service member is gone for 90+ days. We honestly planned life assuming he wouldn’t be there. If he was able to join us, great. If not, oh well, we had to just continue with our plans.”
It’s true that when your service member is home, life can almost be more unpredictable than when they’re away. For that reason, Felicia and her family learned to cherish the moments and events her husband was able to attend even more. They’ve made big memories out of little moments to try and make up for the time lost — moments like having an ice cream party at 11 PM with their young kids because Daddy got in late and had to leave early the next morning. Or even bike rides together through the neighborhood — an activity they relied on to unwind and connect, especially after their daughter was diagnosed with a rare disorder called PANDAS syndrome.
After their last move to San Antonio, those bike rides, unfortunately, got put on hold. “As we were in the process of moving, our daughter’s bike broke,” Felicia shared. “When we moved here in February and just finished getting everything settled, we found out our landlord decided to sell the property we were renting. We had to scramble to find new housing, which put us in a tad of a bind financially. A new bike for her was on our list, but honestly just fell a little further down with the new move and the added expenses. We had asked her to wait until her birthday. Bicycling is a family activity for us. We can all go out together and enjoy a nice ride and it really means a lot to us. This stopped all of us from going together, as Addie didn’t have anything to ride. It was really devastating for her and for us as parents.”
But years back, when they were stationed in San Antonio the first time, Felicia connected with Blue Star Families. She’s stayed connected through each of their moves, utilizing resources and programs to help her family when needed. With quite possibly the most perfect timing, It was that connection to Blue Star Families that led Felicia to see a flyer for an event in San Antonio that her family could attend — a surprise bike build event. In partnership with Grischow Training and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, Blue Star Families helped host a family outing to gift military kids with brand new bikes, a helmet, and even a lock to keep their new bikes safe and secure.
“I couldn’t believe the timing,” Felicia said. “My husband took Addie to the event, and she had absolutely no clue what was happening. When she got home, her excitement was through the roof. She was so happy with her new bike and accessories. It was adorable to see how much that meant to her. To us, it literally brought tears to my eyes to see how one little thing made her so happy! When she brought her bike home, she even had to show Holly, her emotional support animal, her new bike. It was such a happy moment that she was so excited to share. Something we were having to ask her to wait for so we could save up for, she got with such a beautiful surprise. Seeing our little one get a bike was heartwarming, and we are extremely grateful for the help in a tough time. It was more than the bike, but also the cheer and happiness it brought us all. She is still talking about the event, and we were finally able to take a bike ride through our new community. I cannot say thank you enough for making her so happy.”
Here at Blue Star Families, we might not be able to solve every problem instantly for your family, but we sure are going to try. Whether you’re able to celebrate the holidays together or have to spend these important moments apart, Blue Star Families is here for you with the resources, programs, events, and support you need not just to make it through but to thrive.
Find your nearest Chapter or connect with us virtually by visiting www.bluestarfam.org.