A lot of people have a hard time when they have to be away from the people they love. Whatever the circumstances may be, sometimes it is necessary. You have to remember that it's okay and you certainly aren't alone in this.
Reading this will show you the perspective and experience of a 20 year old man in the United States Marine Corps, PFC Jared Simpson MOS 0311 Rifleman. He has been one of my close friends for a while now and has let me interview him via cell phone. He is currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, a military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
I hope sharing this comforts anyone in the same situation or that it gives a new outlook to those dealing with long distance that may not be military related.
Jared, how did your family and friends react when you decided to enlist, did they support it?
"When I first enlisted my loved ones were very confused when I told them. They didn't see it coming which makes sense because I never really told them what I wanted to do with my life. I always knew I wanted to enlist but I'm sure they thought I'd just do what most people my age do and go to college. I don't think any parent/sibling is all aboard the military at first. Their first reaction is fear which was totally understandable. I think as time came closer to boot camp they realized what I was doing took balls and they were proud of me. After boot camp graduation they couldn't have been more proud of me. So, in the end, I'd say my loved ones support me 100%."
How do all of you feel about the distance?
"To be completely honest I think all my family and friends have gotten used to the lifestyle at this point. Yeah, we miss each other but a text or a letter here and there is all we need to keep each other sane. I know all my friends inside and out and I know that no matter what I do with my life the support will always be there and they'll love me no matter what. I couldn't be more thankful for that.
I also don't think distance makes you lose touch with the people you care about. As we all grow up we don't need to talk to someone every single day to know that they're there for us (as far as my best friends and girlfriend). As for the people that I was kinda friends with or just saw around town, yeah they kinda left the picture but that's just the way it goes I guess. I don't dislike them by any means but I don't lose sleep over not talking to them anymore."
What gets you through your worst days being away?
"The two relationships that get me through the hard times in training are my girlfriend and my late friend Rob. Taylor, my girlfriend is the most incredible girl I've ever met. Anytime I feel like giving up I just think about how proud she is of me and no matter what she'll be home waiting for me. That gets me through anything and everything. I've never had such a strong bond with another person so when times get rough I just think about how lucky I am to have someone like her all to myself. It's just different when it comes to someone you see yourself spending the rest of your life with. The distance is very hard but she is one of the strongest people I've met and it helps me get through all the obstacles I face. The distance makes every second I have with her so amazing, trusting each other makes it a little easier too. I'd say that is the silver lining in being almost 1000 miles away from her, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Rob also helps me through a lot of obstacles. About a month ago Rob took his own life, It fucked me up and still fucks me up a month later. He was one of the most genuine guys I've ever had the pleasure of calling my best friend...he was a brother. Every day when I wake up and before I go to sleep, I think of him. Whenever I feel like I want to just stop whatever it is I'm doing, I think about how proud Rob was of me and it gets my head out of my ass and whatever it is I'm doing, I get done. He and Taylor will always be in my heart and mind while I do my job. Without them, it'd be a hell of a lot harder. "
What would you like your loved ones to know about the distance?
"One thing I want all my loved ones to know is that yes, the distance sucks for us all. Just know it's worth it, I love my job, and it's only temporary. I have yet to see combat, but when that day comes I know we are strong enough."
Do you have any advice for others going into the service that may feel anxious about long distance?
"Lastly, to anyone that wants to join any branch of the military but is nervous about the distance, first join the marines because we're the best branch (duh). But on a serious note, to say it bluntly, you just have to get through it. If you can deal with it, you'll become a stronger person. It's rough at times but joining the service was the best decision I've made in my life thus far. If you know deep down it's what YOU want to do and not what mom or dad thinks you should do then you have to go for it and invest everything into it. If you do that it'll make the distance a minor worry in your life.
I hope this helps whoever needs it. "