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LIFE

Tough Stuff

What to do when someone you love is going into the military

I've heard stories from my friends who have family in the military about how difficult it can be when someone they love leaves, but I never thought I would have to go through it myself.

My whole life, it's been my brother and I. Whether we were playing with Matchbox cars or choreographing dances to Disney songs, we've always been tight. Fast forward to today and my brother is leaving in August for 13 weeks for Marine Boot Camp. That's 13 weeks of wondering if he's okay.  Thirteen weeks of waiting for a letter in the mail—because that's the only form of communication I can have with him.  

I was angry when he first told me he would be leaving for the Marines, but I think it came mostly from fear.  Going into the military, no matter what branch, is scary and it can be hard to understand and accept that someone you love is leaving. As August draws closer, I've accepted and support his decision, but it definitely doesn't make me any less worried. Becoming a Marine's sister isn't something I ever thought I would be, but over the past few months I've learned a few tips on how to cope with him leaving. 

Hang out as often as possible
Soon, I'll go without seeing my brother for 13 weeks with very little communication, but who knows what the future holds. When he comes back from bootcamp he will be home for 10-30 days and then leave again for 1-4 years to go to school to learn about his job. So for the next few months I'm going to spend as much time with him as I can. Whether it's just hanging out at home and watching TV or going on mini vacations, it's important to me to just spend time him.  

Know that communication is key 
I still get to talk and see my brother right now, but in the near future I won't. So my stationery set has grown and I've been stocking up on stamps so I can write to him as often as possible. However, it's important to remember that boot camp isn't easy and neither is being deployed so I'm probably not going to get as many letters back as I would like. All that matters to me though is that he gets my letters and knows how proud I am of him for following his dreams.

Stay busy and live your life 
It's going to be hard and I'm still going to worry, but the most important thing I can do for him is to keep living my own life. The world won't stop when he leaves (even though it might feel like it) so I'm going to take up new hobbies, volunteer and hang out with my family and friends. Sitting around and worrying isn't going to help myself, him or and around around me, so I'm just going to keep living my life.

Understand that they're going to change 
The military changes people. I saw it when my brother's friend came back from Marine Boot Camp last month. He gained confidence and maturity, and the same thing is going to happen to my brother. It's something that many recruiters don't tell you when somebody enlists, but the change will happen. Just remember that the person you love is still there, they've just gone through something that many people would never think about doing.

Is someone you love in the military? How did you cope with them leaving? Let us know in the comments below.

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by Cali Drouillard | 3/30/2017
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