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Military life is truly a journey and a remarkable adventure. When I was the young wife of a Marine aviator in Pensacola, Fla., I never could have imagined that this journey would lead me here, living in the historic Home of the Commandants. This time in my life and in Jim's Marine Corps career is undoubtedly unforgettable. But when all is said and done, and the Marine Corps wishes us "fair winds and following seas," this final assignment in Jim's career will become another piece in a beautiful mosaic more than 40 years in the making.
I don't believe anyone has ever said military life is easy. It comes with a unique set of challenges, but also a very unique array of opportunities. Raising children in the military makes you very aware of how many times you have to uproot your whole life and move to all kinds of different places. Between our two children, they attended a total of 25 primary and secondary schools! But they also got to see and experience so much, and they have grown into wonderful parents and professionals. Military life is really what you make of it. You can let the challenges overwhelm you, or you can choose to support each other, enjoy the ride and embrace the opportunities.
I suppose the best advice I can offer after living the military lifestyle for more than 40 years is to make it fun and make a difference. Take advantage of community programs or, if you see a need that is not currently being met, take the initiative and create a new program. There are so many wonderful avenues out there for military families to make a difference in the lives of others. As a military spouse, you can choose to raise your family, have a career, volunteer, join groups or organizations — the options are endless.
There is no doubt, especially during a time of war when deployments are long and frequent, that it can be easy to feel lonely and isolated in the military. For the Marine Corps, and I know for the other services as well, a top priority is making sure that our families have the resources and support they need not only to survive, but to thrive. Military life means many challenges, pushing your limits. But it also offers amazing rewards. I have so many fantastic memories, and I have made deep and lasting friendships during our time with the Marine Corps. That is what I wish for every military family. Make it fun, and enjoy the ride together!