Walk a Mile in My Boots
Last week was the week of nagging spouses! Several Transitioning Veterans shared that their spouses were ‘getting on their nerves.’
These spouses were saying things like:
he’s hanging around the house more now that he’s out of the military
he hasn’t found a job yet – will you get a job already!
he’s doing everything wrong – don’t feed the kids cookies for breakfast!
These are the same spouses who cried their eyes out when that same Military Member packed up and headed to foreign lands to fight wars for our great country. What changed?
I tell spouses to ‘walk a mile in your Service Member’s boots.’ Just one mile, that’s all. Then you can begin to see things from his perspective. How his heart broke every time he missed an anniversary, birthday or holiday. And he literally died inside just a little bit each time he missed the birth of a child. But he had a job to do. He made a commitment to serve and he did it well, with pride and great dedication – don’t you remember all the kind words his leaders said about him at his retirement ceremony?
So pull out those worn and dusty combat boots and just look them over. Imagine the countries they’ve traveled to, the field exercises they’ve endured, and the miles they chartered with their #BattleBuddy – the guy you’ve been complaining about. Now slip your foot inside and feel the warmth they provide. Feel the curves that hugged their #BattleBuddy’s foot ever so snug during those 20 hour plane rides to foreign lands. Can you feel the grooves – the imprint that his toes made as he pressed away the fear of the unknown – will I make it back home to my family? If those boots could tell the tale, what a story they would share!
But you know who can tell the story – your Military Member! Ask him what he wants to do for this next chapter of his life? What does he miss most about the military? What was the worse deployment or training he made it through? And if he doesn’t have all the answers just yet, give him time. Transitioning from the military is a significant emotional event in a Veteran’s life. This is a time when we are trying to figure out our feelings and put them into words we can share.
As frustrated as it may be to have him ‘around’, know that there’s a widow somewhere who would love for just one more dinner with her #1 #BattleBuddy who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Give him time to sort through what’s going on in his head, be patience and when you need a reminder – pull out those boots and have a conversation.