Military spouses face numerous challenges. Between the endless paperwork of every PCS, the dreaded emergency contact questions when you don’t know a soul in your town yet, and settling into a new life every three to five years — with new homes, new schools, new friends and new support systems — it takes a special kind of resilience to keep going.
A new collaborative book, “Brave Women, Strong Faith: Inspiring Stories by Military Women and Wives,” brings together 20 military spouses sharing how they’ve handled these unique challenges the military lifestyle brings. The book touches on topics both universal and personal in six parts: missions and moving; marriage and motherhood; friends that become family; heroes through the heartbreak of grief, loss and post-traumatic stress; military mission work and advocacy; and warrior women.
“I have spent almost two decades living as a military family in civilian neighborhoods, trying to explain or defend our family’s experiences,” said Navy spouse Kara Ludlow.
Ludlow wrote about the stark difference of watching her civilian friends plan standing Friday date nights while her fiancé often received only one or two days’ notice before heading out to sea on a fast-attack submarine during the early days of their long-distance courtship. The unpredictability taught them to cherish every small moment together, and often to let the little things go, including to roll with the challenge of last-minute changes to their wedding plans.
“Hardship and grief do not have the last word. Resilience and growth are possible despite the uncertainties that come along with being a military family,” Ludlow said.
Those uncertainties can be numerous and isolating. Army spouse Wendi Iacobello’s story focuses on challenges military families may face privately: loss, infertility and miracles.
“Walking the journey of infertility can be quite lonely in a world very saturated with children and kid-centric events,” Iacobello said, who shares the heartbreaking loss of her first baby boy in the book.
“Struggles with infertility is not something commonly talked about in the military community, however, it largely affects an increasing number of military couples. I want to give others hope, which isn’t always easy to come by in the thick of infertility.”
Each of the authors shares a personal story in the book, one they hope educates and inspires the world beyond the military community, and sometimes, within it as well.
“So often, despite social media and constant interaction, we feel isolated,” said Laura Schofield, a former Washington Army National Guard service member and a Marine Corps spouse.
In the book, she shares her own experience with military service and career-ending injury, an event that shapes her journey even now as a spouse.
“Sharing our stories is so important; to fellow military to let them know they are not alone, and to civilians to get the smallest glimpse into our world,” she said.
Above all, the book is about the shared challenges we face, and how we are strongest when we meet them as a community. Air Force Spouse Kennita Williams wrote about how difficult it can be to create and find that community with each move. When her family moved from sunny Florida to frigid Alaska, she struggled, despite being a seasoned spouse.
“A remote base, extreme temperatures, and darkness led me to look beyond differences and find those that were experiencing the same harsh conditions and helping each other survive and thrive in hard times. In that search, I found community and friends that became family,” said Williams.
“It is easy to move to a new location, and hold on to all the things and people that made us happy in our previous location,” Williams said.
“This mindset will prevent us from growing and seeing the goodness of our new location and what God has in store for us. I wanted to encourage others to have an open mind and seek a community that will help you grow and thrive where you are planted.”
“Brave Women, Strong Faith: Inspiring Stories by Military Women and Wives” is out now. Join Military Families Magazine for a Facebook Live! Conversation with more of the authors on Oct. 28, 12 p.m. EST.