The Air Force has three core values: Integrity first, Service before self, Excellence in all we do. While these core values refer to the Airmen within the Air Force, they can apply to the spouses as well. When I made the decision to say yes to F's proposal, I was also saying yes to the Air Force. When we walked out of the church on our wedding day, we walked through sabers and I was told "welcome to the Air Force, ma'am" for, truly, I had not only married F but I had married the United States Air Force as well. Often, the Air Force asks me to put it before my own wants, needs and desires. Often I have to put my service as a military spouse before my self. This isn't always the easiest thing to do.
Since starting this journey with F, I've had to sacrifice quite a bit. I had to give up my dream of living near my family for the rest of my life, I had to give up job opportunities that I loved and would never see again, I had to give up being surrounded by everything I've always known. I sacrificed and went on a journey to a place I didn't know, without friends and family nearby for support, and without any type of job offer in over a year. I gave up a lot for the Air Force, I put service before self.
But that's not to say that I haven't gained anything either. I gained an international family to be there for me when my own family is too far away, I gained friends from all over the world who truly understand what being a military spouse is all about, I gained experiences with new places and new cultures that I would have never known if I had lived my whole life in one place and, most importantly, I gained a husband who truly appreciates all that I have given up for him. Really, while the military life can be very hard, it can have so many rewards. And, when the going gets tough, I just remember those rewards and, suddenly, I feel strong and I remember that "service before self" is my core value too. And the service of being a military wife is an honor that, more often than not, I am proud to have.