Today is Sam’s last day as an active duty soldier.
It’s been a heck of a nearly six years since we started this journey in December of 2010. I remember him looking wistfully at the USO calendar we received in the mail, and wondering what was going through his mind. We’d already done that. He’d spent four years in the Marines and been deployed most of it. Our wedding was over a 10 day leave from his 18 months in Okinawa. I worried myself sick when he was in Iraq, changing my answering machine anytime I left to tell him how he could reach me if that day happened to be the rare phone call. Saving each letter and wondering if he was still ok since it took weeks to get to me. Sending care packages and counting down the days till he came home.
When he got out of the Marines a few months after returning, I breathed a sigh of relief and my nearly 22-year-old self figured that was the end of that.
Now he really is done. He’s rated 100% disabled by both the military and social security for combat PTSD and other physical reasons. He put on his boots and uniform for the last time today, all his gear turned in and his papers signed, kissed me goodbye and went to close this chapter of our lives.
In a way, it’ll stay the same. Because he’s retired, we’re able to have access to almost everything we did as active duty. He’ll be paid through the VA and social security. We’ll have a few rough months trying to figure out what pay comes when, but it’ll happen. Our benefits stay about the same – just paying a bit more out-of-pocket now.
He’s been home so often over the past two years as this process drug out, that the stay at home part isn’t a huge adjustment anymore. He still has appointments and therapy, as do I, and every so often I head out to write and do my school work while he’s with the girls. We have plans to start hiking and camping, and saving up money once we get into our home (which is so much cheaper than renting) to travel all over. One of our biggest desires in our marriage has been to travel with the girls together. Now we get that chance.
I’m so thankful for his service and dedication to America and to us. I wrote on FB that he’s my hero, and it’s true. He’s been through a lot in his life, handed things no one should have to cope with, and he’s still here. Still trying and doing his best. This isn’t an easy road for either of us, still, and yet there’s no one else I’d rather do it with. I love him.
Let the new adventures begin. 🙂