Tour of Duty – Military vs Civilian

“Hello. I’m writing from home but it’s not my home. and your. Living in a place that is not my home.”

One person. Military life. Civilian life. Two identities. A soldier. A civilian. The same person.

In a neomorphic collision of lives, Soldiers interchange their identities.

Military life encompasses uniforms, uniformity, leadership, preparedness, and training. Soldiers provide services where and when needed. Military life commands a call to duty. A call to service. A call to serve bigger than themselves.

Civilian life clamors for uniqueness, individuality and self-empowerment. It values flexibility, spontaneity and creative engagement. Civilian life is like a do-it-yourself, take-it-at-your-own-pace, self-directed course in life living.

Then it happens. Much like a canoe headed downstream. One minute you’re up and paddling. Hanging out with family and friends. The next minute, your deployment orders arrive. It’s time to go.

There’s no time or space to land. So you do what every great soldier does. You jump. Water splashes. You hit the water running. You report for duty.

Skillfully, without capsizing, your family and your friends do the inner-canoe shuffle. Trading places. Their re-arrange. They paddle. Their navigation remains the same.

The distance between you and them becomes more like lifetimes of distant, outdated memories. Living 12 to 18 months across countries. Across worlds.

Back home, the unstructured zaniness of civilian life clamors on; without you. The once familiar …

“What’s for dinner?” 
“Where’s grandma? The neighbors called. She ditched her dentures in their toolshed.”
“Who used my toothbrush?”
“What! You flunked 1st grade for the 3rd time?”
“If it’s not your fault the dog ate the turkey than whose is it?”

A canter and a language no longer you own.

Coming home … you wonder, where did it go?

Your family and your friends re-adjusted; without you.  Changed roles; without you. Routines formed; without you. Life at home moved on; without you.

Deployment ends. Soldiers return. The canoe is not where you left it. Chasing it down. Skillfully, without capsizing, you lumber in.  Your family and friends rearrange. What was, no longer is.

In life, as in story, change happens. What once was, will never be again. A new normal unfolds.

ReStory: One Man – One Tree

Howling winds and torrential flooding ravaged through a young soldier’s life. Purging his house of its structure. Purging his farm of its avocado trees. 18-months of deployment has pasted.

Coming home used to mean sleeping in one’s own bed. Celebrating the harvest of an abundant avocado crop. The one his neighbors gleefully crowed about.

This time, coming home meant seeing a house without a frame. An avocado farm without trees to harvest. One tree remained. A male tree. Strong, yet barren, as only female trees produce fruit.

He prepared for his next deployment. Only 12 months this time.

In a conversation before he left. His lifted his eyes. He looked ahead. Uncertainty wavering, he looked back down; then up. He stood. He smiled. He said, “I am like the tree. Strong. Still standing. The storm; she planted the seeds for a bigger farm. I can see it growing already.”

One man. A new story.

Another ReStory Support Option

Magical trinkets. Electronic devises. Unexpected smiles and encouraging words all make life a bit easier. More palatable. More humane.  At times we all can benefit from a bit of extra support. For soldiers, natural disaster survivors and their families may also benefit from a bit of extra support.

Give an Hour offers professional, confidential counseling FREE of charge for Military personnel, natural disaster survivors and their families. A bit of extra support towards the next legs of one’s journey.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

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