A guest blog article by Claire Doane (parent, veteran, world citizen)
I am a veteran.
I was deployed overseas at the young age of 19, away from the biological family that had raised me. When born, we rely on our parents for everything. They provide food, clothing, shelter, and love. As we grow and mature, we begin to rely less and less on them for our needs – but they are still there for us.
Or they should be.
That matter aside, eventually, we are all put into a situation where we are distanced from our family. It is then that we must rely on others to provide for us the same way our biological family would. My temporary family – those I served with – have definitely shown how it is more than possible to have people in your life that you consider family that actually are not blood related.
Fact is, the definition and realization of family changes as society does. It will be different for each person and vary greatly from the old school traditional family or two fathers. Or even just close friends. In this day and age, there is no “wrong” type of family. And honestly, I simply cannot understand people who do not agree with the idea of having friends that are family. Some individuals don’t have a choice to build a new family, whether due to death or some other altogether personal matter.
For me – my family grew the moment I joined the military.
At 19, I still needed a lot of guidance in life, not only as a woman but also as a soldier. I didn’t have my family with me. My parents couldn’t follow me around on deployment. I wasn’t able to talk to them every day. Sometimes, I was out of contact with the world back home for weeks.
I learned to rely on the individuals in my platoon for support and guidance.
When I was feeling rough, I had many people who would spend time listening to me and giving me advice. These people in my team were always there for me. I spent the majority of my time with them. I worked with them and when we weren’t working, we ate together and went to the gym together. I felt that I could go to them for anything. They picked me up when I was down and I tried to do the same for them.
We were family, right down to the arguments, which family sometimes does.
When I returned home to my biological family, I was happy to see them, but at times I felt the same way that I did during the first weeks of my deployment. I felt like I was missing my family. My parents couldn’t relate to my stories. They didn’t understand me anymore and how could they? I had experienced things I could not talk to them about. And even if I could, they would not get it – but my military family, we had experienced the same things. We were all on the same page. They are important and essential to my life – and they always will be.
We are there for each other, sharing a common bond as strong as blood – but rooted in the red, the white, and the blue.