soldiers and their families

Military Life: an insider's perspective On Independence Day

Daily lives of the rank and file.

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*I have interviewed multiple people including veterans, current enlisted members, and their families. Due to privacy I will not name any of them, but I will use their quotes.*

We are lucky enough to live in a country that so many dream of. We don't live in a war zone. We have pretty much every freedom you could ask for. We continue to be blessed with this life because of the military. As Independence Day comes up, celebrate our freedoms and be sure to thank a soldier.

I was raised in a very military supportive family. Along with multiple cousins and uncles, my own father was in the military. Just a few days ago he told me "I'll always be thankful for the navy showing me the way." The military is what led him to his career as a police officer. He has openly said that at 18 he was not thinking of how enlisting would affect his future children, he just wanted to get out of town. Fast-forward about 30 years and here I am reaping the benefits by having financial aid while in college.

There's more to the military than just wars and bombs. The military has some of the best research facilities and projects in our country. USUHS produces some of the best surgeons. SAMMC has been ranked among the top hospitals for surgical care. Besides excelling in the fields of medicine and research, the military consistently produces top-notch lawyers, pilots, engineers and many other highly respected professionals.

I have friends and family that live all over due to being in the military. The idea of being able to move across the world seems so fun, right? Not when you don't have a choice. Military families can be uprooted at any time. It is difficult to have a career as a civilian when your spouse's career requires you to move frequently. The frequent relocations can be hard on children as well. Being the new kid at school every few years and saying goodbye to good friends is difficult as a child.

"Having to adjust to him being gone and having to grow up so fast at such a young age to help our mother with things. There was no time for tears, sadness or worries, you had to keep going no matter what."

Moms and dads spend months away from their children. Husbands and wives don't see their spouses. Thirty years ago, facetime didn't exist. My dad said he would call home maybe once a month because it was so expensive. Anytime I want to contact my friends overseas now I just shoot a text. With technology, it makes the distance a little easier, but it's still not the same. When you go home today, think about how blessed you are to see your family and hug them extra tight.

Being away from home in general is hard. Not only do you miss your family, but there really is no place like home (especially Texas.) There are other difficulties the men and women in the military face, which civilians often do not see. The men and women are held to similar standards. You are not given special treatment based on gender or size. Many enlisted members claim that there is a clear division between officers and enlisted members which makes daily life challenging. There is an obvious social barrier between the two.

Though being in the military is hard, there are also many rewarding benefits to being in the military. Many people love the opportunity to travel. The military can give you so many career opportunities and allows you to make lifelong connections. Almost everyone I spoke with mentioned that the stability and benefits (insurance, financial aid, etc.) are very rewarding. Being a military family allows you to meet other families and people that are experiencing the same things you are. As an adult looking back, most are thankful of their experience in the military and how it impacted their life.

An interesting thing I noticed when conducting interviews was that not one veteran or enlisted member boasted about their service, but every child, parent and spouse said that they were honored to be a military family.

"The pride of being a military spouse is not like anything else."

Everyone enlists for different reasons. The most common ones I've been told were to leave home, to have better opportunities, it's a family tradition and just to serve our country. Whatever the reasoning is, it is a very honorable thing to do. While not everyone is on the front line, everyone that enlists is giving up part of their life to serve our country. I will always respect that.

The last question I asked people was, "Would you encourage your child to enlist (not force them)?" and everyone said yes.

I have friends that were military brats, some that are current military spouses and even some that are currently enlisted. And I'm sure you know at least one person that falls somewhere in there. No matter their role in the military system, military life gets hard. They all need our support.

Please do not ever say things like "we don't need the military" or derogatory comments like "he's just a jarhead" to me. The military is the reason you have the freedom to sit during the national anthem and be disrespectful. To those that snidely say "well they didn't have to go into the military," no they didn't. But they chose to. I would love to not have to think of the possibility of my best friend never coming home again, but him being in the military makes me respect him even more. Just because you didn't choose to join the military, doesn't mean you should disrespect those who do.

Appreciate the safety and freedoms you have. They can be taken away in an instant. Appreciate the people who protect those freedoms. Care for those that come back wounded. Remember those who have fallen. Support the troops.


Cover Image Credit:

Hannah Ward

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10 Photos You Have On Your Camera Roll Of Your S.O. When You've Been Dating For More Than A Year

A wide range from "Aw" to "WTF?"

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My boyfriend and I just hit the year and a half mark of dating, even though it seems like we've been together forever. Over the months, we've taken many pictures together... from football games, to his track meets, to holidays. Although we may have a lot of pictures together, I definitely have a lot of candids of him in my camera roll. If you've been dating your partner for as long as I have or longer, then you'll probably notice you have these same pictures in your photos as well.

1. The awkward first photos together

We laugh at these now, especially this one. Why am I so pale compared to him? It was July! And also, we noticed not to long ago that I was sweating under my arms and his underarms were sweating on me... what a great first time meeting!

2. The ones for VSCO

Every girl who has a significant other posts them onto their VSCO. VSCO is like Instagram, but more has more aesthetically pleasing pictures and there are no "likes." The pictures that include my boyfriend on my VSCO ranges from him holding a bunny to him holding my hand while we went ice skating.

3. Them sleeping

I have so many pictures of my boyfriend sleeping (I promise it's not as weird as it sounds), I just think he's so cute when he's fast asleep while cuddling with me.

4. The embarrassing ones they want no one to see

He's going to kill me when he sees this... but we all have those embarrassing Snapchat pictures that we start to send each other because we've gotten more comfortable with one another.

5. The ones for Facebook

The good looking pictures so you can keep yours and his family updated on how you two are doing. I took my boyfriend to a baby bird meet and greet since he loves birds and has one for a pet. I posted this cute picture of him and his new friends on Facebook so my family can see our adventures together.

6. Old pictures

One of the best parts of dating someone is finally seeing their old pictures. Although, sometimes they may make you cringe... like the one I posted above of my boyfriend after prom in his sophomore year of high school.

7. Their accomplishments

My boyfriend pole vaults for his college and he's really good at it. He just went to division III nationals in March because he qualified! I'm always at his meets so I make sure to get him on video in case he or anyone wants to see. I always try to snag a picture with him too because I'm always so proud.

8. The straight up ugly ones

He sure knows how to make me laugh. And I know he's going to be mad at me for this one too but I think it's a talent that he can do that with his stomach! Sorry, Adam, I promise I still think you look good when you send me these snaps for the most part.

9. But you have the hot ones too

He may be funny and sweet, but he is pretty good looking too. I know us girls keep some attractive pictures of our S.O.'s so we can remind ourselves of what a great looking partner we have.

10. FaceTime screenshots

If you and your lover go to different colleges like my boyfriend and I do, then FaceTiming happens a lot. Sometimes I get some great screenshots, like the one above, to make fun of him later.

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From Death to Life: Why Christ's Death Saves Me

Why Christ's death is truly the best thing that could have ever happened.

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Happy Easter Folks.

2000 years ago, there lived a man, born the Son of God, named Jesus. He lived here on earth for 33 years, showing the people the ways, and the love of God Himself. Jesus had 12 best friends, who He called disciples, who followed Him around as He healed and shared God's story.

Jesus knew He was sent to earth to die, as do we. However, we are not aware of what happens once we've died, but He knew exactly what death had in store for Him.

Late one evening, one of Jesus' friends, named Judas, was overtaken by the devil. Judas then betrayed Jesus, telling the chiefs and priests how to kill Jesus, for some money.

After the betrayal of Judas, Jesus invites his 12 friends to have dinner with Him, which we all remember as the Last Supper. The 13 men gather around a table with bread and wine. Jesus tells them that the bread resembles His body, and breaks it, dividing it among the 12. The wine, He tells them, is representative of His blood, which will be poured out for them. He then tells them one of the 12 has betrayed Him, and they begin to question what is going on.

That night, after the Last Supper, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives with His disciples to pray. He prays out, that if God can spare Him from death, to do so, but if not, then God's will to be done. Soon after this, the chiefs and priests Judas betrayed Him to, come and arrest Him.

It is decided that Jesus shall die, that He will die a slow, and painful death of crucifixion, where He will be nailed to a cross and hung there to die. He is hung on the cross, they whip Him, to the point where He is almost dead, and then they stop. They make Him carry His cross to the hilltop, being beaten and screamed at the entire way there. Once there, they nail His hands and feet to the cross, strip Him of His clothes and gamble them off, place a crown of thorns on His head, and shove a sword in His side. They put the cross into the ground of the hill, placing a sign about Him that read, "This is the King of the Jews".

Jesus suffered, blood pouring from His head, back, feet, hands, and His side. He suffered for hours, watching the people jeer over Him, and mock Him. After 9 hours of bleeding and pain, He yells out, "tetelestai" which means, "It is finished", and Jesus breathes His last breath.

Jesus died.

Jesus' friends then buried Him.

Jesus was dead.

The Son of God had died.

But three days later, His friends found the tomb empty. Yes, that's right. Empty. Jesus came back to life. He came to His friends, the disciples, and showed them the holes in His hands and feet, to show them it was truly Him. After a little more time on earth, Jesus went back into Heaven to be with God once again.

So why is this important? Why does one person's death matter so much?

In the Old Testament times, when a person committed a sin, they had to offer God a sacrifice, most often their most prized animal. The animal was killed as a sacrifice, as an apology, for falling victim to the deception of Satan. So to show us just how much He loves us, God sent Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice, so that we no longer had to kill an animal, but rather we just ask for forgiveness.

Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice. Because of His death, we can have a personal relationship with God through the Spirit within us. We can pray directly to Him, ask for advice, ask for healing, or even just have a conversation. Without Christ's death, we would still be slaughtering animals, and speaking to God through a hierarchy of priests.

So why does Christ die?

Have you ever considered who you would die for? Like, if for some crazy reason, you were in a room with everyone you've ever known, or met, and there is a person pointing a gun at everyone in the room. Who would you jump in front of the gun for? Who's life do you value over your own. We'd all like to say we'd jump in front of a bullet for our friends, or our family, but the reality is, in the heat of the moment, you most likely wouldn't.

Have you ever considered it the other way around? Who would die for you? I asked a friend of mine a few years ago this question. Would he jump in front of a bullet for me? Would he care if I was dead? He answered, bluntly, that he didn't value my life over his own.

The crazy thing is, although you've never had to die for someone, someone has died for you. His name is Jesus. Jesus' death on the cross was for every single person who's ever walked this earth. He died to prove His love for us. He died to give us eternal life with Him in Heaven. He died so that we could be forgiven.

So how does His death save me?

I'll be the first to admit. I mess up. A lot. I make a lot of mistakes. I've made a lot of mistakes. I am called to a faith full of love and truth, but I am not perfect. I have done so many things, so many unforgivable things, things like hating people, talking poorly about others behind their backs, impure thoughts, malice, lies, you name it, I've probably done it, or screwed it up.

But since Jesus died for me (and you too), I am forgiven, every time I mess up. Every single time. All I have to do is ask for it. Jesus loves me that much.

He could hate me. I've done a lifetime's worth of messed up stuff to warrant that. But no. He loves me. He loves you. He loves us so much He died the most painful death in recorded history. He died so we could be set free.

So this Easter weekend, whether you're a Christian or not, just remember, someone loved you enough to step in front of that bullet for you. His name is Jesus Christ. And no matter what you do, or how bad things get, He's never going to stop loving you.

Always,

HMS

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