Jamie and I first met on a snowy Friday night in New York and within 24 hours knew we might have something special together. 36 hours later on Sunday morning we said our very first “see ya later” before I boarded a flight back to Alabama, putting 1,000 miles between us. We’d continue putting physical distance between us on and off for the next 9.5 years. We’ve said see ya laters for one week, one month, two months, nine months at a time. We kissed goodbye at the airport 48 hours after we said “I do” as well as twice for 8+ months while I was in the first trimester of my pregnancies.
But this morning… something monumental happened.
We said our very last “see ya later” that we’ll ever experience in the Army.
Jamie is off to Poland for a European non-combat deployment (his first of this kind), but his time over there will be cut short. He’ll be returning no later than the end of the year so that he can begin transitioning out of the Army and into the civilian world.
We are so excited. And terrified, nervous, reflective, and all of the other adjectives that come along with something being incredibly bittersweet and unknown.
But mainly we’re just really, really relieved, hopeful, and excited.
Over the past few months, Jamie and I have been met with very different reactions when we’ve told people that we’ll be transitioning to the civilian world. Most of his explaining has been to people he works or worked with because most of them are genuinely shocked to see him actually going through with getting out; They thought he’d go all the way (and so did we for many years). Our friends and family who know us best (and who know what a truly insane 7.5 years it’s been behind the scenes) have never needed an explanation. They’ve been our biggest cheerleaders as we make this transition.
Our list of reasons for getting out is extensive and personal, and we have zero hard feelings against the military. This was the hardest decision Jamie has ever (!!) made, and we both know that there is a list a mile long of things we will miss about our Army lives. While we’ve had more than our fair share of trials, curveballs, and bad timing, we actually feel like God has given us the perspective of gratitude for those hardships because they’ve shaped what we want for our future and given us 100% confidence and peace in making this huge transition. I didn’t have to convince Jamie to do anything and he hasn’t had to convince me; We have been like-minded the entire way with this transition so far.
If I were to tell you why we are getting out, I would have to recap our entire time as an Army family. There wasn’t one event, person, job, or location that pushed Jamie to make this decision. In fact, he made it while he was doing a job he truly loved. But we were met with a deadline where we needed to decide to get out or do 20 years, and after considerable conversation and prayer, we both knew it was time to drop that packet (i.e. the Army’s version of a two-week notice, except it’s a one-year notice – ha).
From experience, I know that hearing other’s gripe and complain about the Army and why they’re getting out can be very, very contagious and toxic for others (especially those who are struggling with being in the military and wanting out), so you won’t find me doing much (I won’t say any, ha!) complaining about our experience in the military on this blog. The Army has the potential to offer an incredible (!) life with experiences you can’t find outside of the military. It has its challenges, but every career does. We are great friends with so many people who would never dream of getting out of the Army, which is so wonderful. How awesome to love and appreciate where you’re at in life? As for us, we just know without a shadow of a doubt that there’s something else in store for our little family and are so grateful for that clarity. We wouldn’t have said clarity without the exact journey – both ups and downs – that we’ve had.
Jamie has an eight year commitment, so he is officially done in May. His last day of going into work will actually be in March though since he will have 60 days of leave saved up. His commitment after attending West Point was five years, but he added on an extra three years to his commitment when he signed the GRADSO deal his senior year of college. For those who know what the GRADSO option is, obviously we are not exercising it.
It’s still a little early to nail down a job, but we are hopeful that we’ll have a better grasp on where we are headed by February. Jamie has been working his tail off for months putting things in motion, and to say I’m proud of him would be a gross understatement. His work ethic and drive amazes me.
Why am I sharing this at this time?
Because we’d like to invite you to follow along. 🙂 Jamie and I talked a lot about how I would address our transition out of the military on this blog, as I felt like I needed to at some point since a substantial percentage of my following is fellow military families. I initially thought I’d wait until we had more to tell you (i.e. a job, next location, etc.) but then Jamie and I decided to take you on this journey with us (to a point, of course). We know so many families who are also getting out or considering it, and while I won’t be documenting every step, I’ll be talking openly about it now instead of keeping it from you like I have for the last few months. I’m a terrible secret keeper. 🙂