When my husband decided to join the Army National Guard 5 years ago, I was excited and scared at the same time. This was unfamiliar territory for me. No one in my family, or any of my close friends, had ever been part of the military. I had no idea what to expect, especially since all I knew of the military was what you see on TV. Not the best example there! Added to that, I had no idea what the National Guard really was, aside from the “One Weekend a Month, Two Weeks a Year” advertisements I heard on the radio. Obviously, I had a lot to learn and I was quickly educated during that first year.
We enjoy being a National Guard family. We love the fact that we have been able to put roots down in one place and will stay here for many years. The fact that we live near family and our children will be able to make close friends that will likely be around for many years are blessings that are not lost on us. I especially appreciate my ability, as a military spouse, to be able to find a job in my chosen career without the worry that I will have to begin the job search all over again in a new location. Along with my husband already having an established civilian career, these were some of the many reasons that caused us to choose the National Guard versus Active Duty.
There are definitely many benefits to being a Guard family, but there are also times when the grass appears greener on the other side and being an Active Duty family sounds ideal. The idea of living on a base near other military families going through similar situations, experiencing new places and meeting new people, and having our kids grow up among those who understand them are just a few aspects of active duty that make the active duty grass seem greener. The hardest part about being National Guard for us has been the transition between the two worlds, especially for my husband. He loves his job in the Army and thrives in that environment. He also has a family business that he wants to see succeed and can be a challenge at times to up and leave for duty. It’s quite a balancing act that sometimes is very frustrating, but one that we are slowly learning to navigate.
There are benefits to both Active duty and National Guard and every person’s experiences are different. What I may see as a negative to my situation may seem very appealing to someone living the active military life. What choice works for one family may not for another. But in the end, each branch is working for the same goal – to serve and protect our country. And that is the common thread that runs among us all, making us one big military family.