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Military Life: Embracing the Brutal Truths

I would like to start this column by expressing my intention to communicate my thoughts with the utmost respect and sensitivity that this subject deserves. This is particularly crucial as this topic is one of the most delicate I have addressed in my writing career thus far. I must admit that I have been delaying this piece for weeks. It is a topic that I have been eager to address but simultaneously hesitant about because I have struggled to find the right words to articulate my thoughts effectively.

As many are aware from following the news, the military community has been deeply affected by recent plane crashes that have tragically claimed the lives of numerous outstanding military personnel. I aim to discuss how the most recent crash has profoundly impacted many within our flying community and the implications for us as military spouses.

Among the myriad aspects of military life that spouses share, there is one common fear that unites us all – the dreaded sight of service members in uniform at our doorstep. It is the one scenario we fervently hope, wish, and pray will never materialize. Our hearts ache and tears flow for those whose worst nightmares have turned into harsh realities. When a fellow spouse undergoes such a tragedy, selfishly, thoughts of “what if” and “could have been” consume our minds. These thoughts, accompanied by a sense of guilt for even entertaining them while others are suffering immensely, intensify the fear that grips us all.

The recent calamity has struck a chord with many of our friends and fellow spouses, sending shockwaves through our flying community. I personally know individuals who were acquainted with those involved – the spouses, children, and infants whose lives will never be the same again.

The impact is profound because, despite our attempts to deny or dismiss the possibility of such a tragedy befalling us, we are acutely aware that we could easily find ourselves in a similar situation. In an instant, everything can change, as highlighted by this recent devastating event. It was the immediate thought that crossed my mind – “that could happen.”

We understand that the role of our active-duty service members is far from safe. They are aviators who navigate perilous combat zones during deployments, witnessing and experiencing things they may never fully disclose. This reality is not lost on us as spouses, yet it is not a thought we entertain daily. How could we? Surviving this lifestyle would be impossible if we dwelled on the worry every time their aircraft takes off. We push these thoughts aside, choosing to bury, deny, and evade them as we navigate this life. However, it is incidents like the recent tragedy that force us to confront the harsh realities of our existence. For a brief moment, we allow ourselves to sit with the sorrow and intrusive thoughts, mourning the losses within our community and praying for those left behind. We are bound together by shared devastation and grief. It is heart-wrenching, yet undeniably true.

To those who have endured such nightmares and to those currently grappling with such tragedies, to those who have prematurely lost their airmen, please know that we stand in solidarity with you.

Speaking as a military spouse, representing the collective voice of all military spouses united by the unimaginable, we are here to support you, to stand beside you or behind you, ready to catch you or lift you up. You are not alone. Rest assured that you occupy our thoughts and hearts; we mourn with you, we grieve for you, your families, and all those affected. We are here. We stand with you.