My mother and father have both been in the Army, both before I was born. My mother got out after 4 years when she was pregnant with me but my father serves for almost 22 years. My older sister also decided to enlist in the Army, and I've found myself in Army ROTC after years of telling myself I'd never be in the military.
As I've grown up, I've come to realize just how many valuable things I've gained from living with military parents that everybody may not understand, or have been taught the way I have. I strongly believe that the military influenced the way I was raised and I'm pretty proud of that.
These are four things I've learned from my military family.
1. The first and foremost thing that living in a military family has taught me is discipline.
My mother and father both expected more of me than the average family, and I've come to greatly appreciate it. Growing up, I always hated the expectations that were put upon me by my parents to always give everything I did my 110%. There was no such thing as halfway doing something. If I committed to a class or a sport, there would be no giving up or no giving it only part of my efforts. In college I started to realize just how valuable this lesson is and I believe the level of discipline I received should be learned by everybody. Due to the way I was raised, I have a very good work ethic and I always stick to what I plan, even if I decide it's not for me. I don't quit and I'm often praised for my dedication especially to the things I love because not many people my age have that quality anymore.
2. Another thing my military family has taught me is to appreciate the times where we can all be together.
When I was younger, my father was away a lot either on deployments or in the field training or even at military qualifying schools. I remember birthdays where he was away and wasn't able to call until after I was in bed, or the fear I would sometimes get at night wondering what he was doing or if he was okay. My father is a strong man and never failed to come home, and every time he did so I realized even more just how lucky I am. Even now, going home to both of my parents is an immense privilege and with my older sister deploying soon, I take time everyday to tell my family how much I love them.
3. I have also learned the importance of true friendships throughout a lifetime.
Similarly, my father in particular taught me that true friends don't have to talk every day. Instead, they're there whenever you need them and vice versa. My father has a few people whom he considers true friends and he doesn't talk to them all the time, or very often to be honest. Two of my dad's true friends recently moved close to him and even after not seeing them for several years and talking to them very little, when they met again they picked up where they left off. The relationship he has with these friends exceeds anything anybody can understand.
The camaraderie between soldiers is something civilians couldn't understand. One of these friends has a son whom I've known since I was in kindergarten. When we moved away, I was still in elementary school and therefore had no means of communication with him and we lost touch for almost 10 years. When he moved to my town right before I left for college, our friendship picked up almost exactly where it left off and he's one of the people I would do anything for. He is a true friend and I value our relationship as much as I value my family.
4. The last thing I learned from my military family is how to be strong.
Since I was little, I had to face the fact that my father was protecting our home in a place that could be dangerous. As I grew up, I came to realize just how much he was willing to give up to protect his home and family, and just how much of a hero he truly is. It's difficult to put into words how much I look up to him and he's made me want to follow in his footsteps. Through him and his stories I've learned exactly what true strength looks like. He has always been my hero and my strength comes from him because I know he's one of the strongest people in the world.