Can you sense my apprehension, my confusion, my fear. I sometimes feel that those emotions are overshadowing the strongest one ~ pride.
I am so incredibly proud that my son has chosen to join the United State Marine Corps. He enlisted on May 23rd just before graduation. He won't be shipping out until next spring after his braces come off. Between now and then he attends weekly PT sessions at his recruiting station and will participate in local charity events ran by the Marines. He will start working on his Associates Degree for two semesters before attending boot camp in Parris Island next summer. The current plans are for him to be a part of the Marine Reserves stationed locally until he finishes his degree then switch to a ROTC program while he earns his bachelors then eventually joining full-time as an officer. He plans to be a career officer then retire and start a second career in physical therapy. Those are what the plans look like for now.
I am wise enough to know that there are no guarantees when it comes to serving the military. What his recruiting officer and his current CO tell him can all change in a heartbeat. He current job will be to serve on the amphibious assault vehicles as a technician(?). Fortunately the Military Channel had a program on it that I was able to watch so I have an idea of what he'll be doing. FYI I didn't even know there was a Military Channel must less that we were subscribed to it. They really are kind of cool I have to admit.
What does this mean for us, for our family? I don't feel like a military Mom, and admittedly that's probably because he hasn't left for boot camp yet. I haven't put anything on my car saying I'm a Marine Mom or such. I'll be honest when I envisioned my son's future I didn't see the military being a part of it. Just 5 years ago he had been stuck in a wheelchair for most of 7th grade. He spent the first two years of high school at a School of the Arts studying film. When he joined NJROTC in his junior year, he transferred to our neighborhood school for that purpose, I began to think this was a possibility. When he not only embraced NJROTC but was incredibly successful reality came knocking on my door.
With my husband working for the Dept of Defense, which meant us always residing in Navy towns, I knew with three kids there was always the chance that someone would either marry into or join the military. I'll be honest I was hoping for the marriage option.
The Marines choice was even more of a surprise. If I had things my way he would have joined either the Coast Guard or the Air Force. Unfortunately his C/O at NJROTC did a pretty good job of trashing every branch of the military that wasn't Navy as he was a Naval Academy grad. Having had numerous friends throughout his life whose mom or dad served in the Navy he had seen/heard about way too many divorces and long deployments separating families. How he thinks the Marines will be different I don't honestly know.
So while I am trying to process all of this myself I have been sharing his news with friends and such. What absolutely has floored me is their response and reactions. You know that face someone makes when they learn someone they know has been diagnosed with an illness, I've seen that more times than not when I share my news. They try to cover it but they're usually aren't quick enough. Wow! Really? Is he sure? Are you worried? My son pretty quickly goes from being a recent high school grad to a sad news statistic. There are of course those friends who are right there with me, proud and apprehensive, thank heavens for them (Jane and Cassie big shout out here).
I've had people share with me their lack of support for all the wars going on asking how can I support them? Easy I support the military not the people making those decisions. One interesting conversation I had with someone was am I worried about the testing the military does on its members and the state of the Veterans Affairs. I'm curious as to how my son's signing on the dotted line has somehow made me the resource officer for all that's occurring in the military.
So yes this time next year without some unforeseen event occurring I will be the very proud mom of a Marine. While I know my pride will be uncontainable chances are so will my apprehensions. If any of you are military parents, spouses or members please share any advice.
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