The Balance Between Military Life and Family Life

Life’s challenging, for everyone. There are always lessons to learn, challenges to conquer, and dreams to enlighten. One of the biggest challenges that I have presently, is deciding how to choose between a military life and a family life. Make no mistake, there are two different types of life there. One must choose, and when you do, be prepared for the other to suffer.

For us, it wasn’t easy at all. I have been a Marine my entire adult life. Since the age of 17, I lived, trained, and fought as a Marine. I fought in several wars, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Everything I knew was being an infantry Marine. Now I had to change and become a father at the same time. A husband, a man of family, while still keeping the hardened exterior of a combat Marine at work. Switching back and forth was hard, and near impossible.

Then it came 2011, and we had son with a brain tumor and autism. How could I be compassionate at home and tough as nails training at work? Again, impossible.

I knew that I should have left the Marine Corps and focus on my family years ago before I became so invested. There were two problems with this action though. One, I was still infatuated with being a Marine. I loved the feeling, the reputation, the hard earned respect. Secondly, was the medical insurance. Basically, if I kept training, deploying, fighting for the Marine Corps my son is taken care of and we don’t rack up the hospital bills.

Years later however, the choice still remains. I still love being a Marine, and am in positions to make change and influence young minds to be great warriors. However, Cater is 10, and will start being shaped into the man he will become. He still has his medical needs, but something that I am willing to work extra hard for. The family portion of my decision is starting to tip the scales, and I realize how important it will be to get Carter home close to family. He needs to be stable, in one location, in one final place instead of moving every three years.

Another important aspect of the decision is Kelli. She has been tasked with driving Carter to therapies every day, over 22 hours a week. She hasn’t been able to work, have much of an adult relationship, or even leave the house that often. By being close to home, there can be help from family, those that really want to assist and can help him grow.

Then there is Kinley. One that really loves her friends. Why should she have to give up a normal friendship because I choose to serve, and is willing to relocate my family every three years. Another reason, another tipping point on the scale.

Again though, being a Marine has it advantages. Stable pay, allowances that help with housing, steady medical insurance. No fear of being fired.

After 15 years, it has been a tough decision. At this point, this very moment, my family feels it will be best to pick family life over military life. I have my B.A, two classes from my M.S., certified LSS, and working through PMP. So can fear have a say in this, certainly. Is there fear of not finding a job? Of course, doesn’t mean I won’t try.

Family life, or military life? What would you pick? Comment below the tough choices you have to make for your family.

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