The month of July signifies the birth of our country and honoring those who have served to keep our freedom. As I thought about how travel and independence relate to one another, I automatically thought of a special group so close to my heart: the military family.
While many of us have had the luxury to travel around the country and the world for vacations and study abroad opportunities, the military family often doesn’t get a choice about where they will go next. Wherever the active duty parent is stationed, the military family follows. The military family is unique in the sense that they must learn to create and establish a home somewhere new every few years. Often times they are sent to places far away from their close family and friends, making visits and reunions few and far between. They have to learn to get up and go, make the best of things, and adapt quickly to their new environment.
Growing up in a Navy family is a huge part of what’s shaped me to be who I am today. I have witnessed firsthand how my father would leave for deployments for eight months at a time in order to serve his country, while my mother would stay at home with three young children trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and stability for a lifestyle that wasn’t exactly normal or stable. We’d move to a new city or state, attend a new school, make friends, begin feeling adjusted, and then suddenly be uprooted somewhere else, only to start the process all over again.
Some might counter that moving around the world with the military can’t be all that bad; after all, you get to see so many places. I’d say that is all very true and I have no complaints, but I’d also point out that it’s not a lifestyle everyone could handle. Most Americans have the freedom to choose when and where they want to go. They have the opportunity to plan ahead, and most importantly, pick where they’d like to spend their time. Planning a cruise to the Bahamas with your family next summer? Great! What if instead your trip was rerouted to Krakow, Poland? Or perhaps a rural town in the American Midwest? How about South Korea? Would you enjoy it just as much, even if it wasn’t on your list of ideal vacation spots?
The military family is sent wherever they are needed, some locations perhaps less appealing or glamorous than others. They must make do with what they are given, often having to learn a new language, learn a new culture’s way of doing things, and still find a way to balance a sense of normalcy and home wherever they end up.
Though staying in one place for a long period of time wasn’t a luxury for me, I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunities the military family lifestyle has afforded me. I credit my military upbringing for a huge chunk of my ability to improvise, adapt, appreciate the unknown, take risks, try new things and carry the feeling of home wherever I go.
I cannot express enough gratitude to military families everywhere who constantly pack up and ship out to wherever they are needed for the sake of our country’s freedom and independence. Thanks to the military families serving our country where they are needed, we all have the freedom to travel safely wherever we please. Thank you and God bless you for your service and sacrifice!
This post was written by Janah Valenzuela. Contact Janah at email@example.com
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