It has been 3 years since my husband was honorably discharged from the United States Army. Though 3 years have passed, I can still remember the feel of his ACU’s, shopping at the PX, getting the news of 24 hour staff duty and the endless amounts of equipment packed into his rucksack. Sometimes I have moments when I feel as if I am still in the military world and that eventually he will get called for duty but thankfully he made the decision to come home forever.
As many other Americans, I have a loved one who has served. My husband, Zachary Hayes, first joined the United Sates Army in 2007 at the age of 19. He served over 6 years as a Fire Support Specialist (13F), ending his military career as a sergeant in 2013. Over the course of those 6 plus years he has accomplished many strides to include getting his airborne wings, being top of his class in the JFO Course and being top of his class during WLC. I have had the honor of attending each of his promotions starting from private first class to sergeant.
In 2010, Zach was called for duty to serve one year in Iraq. Up until this point we had been very fortunate to have not been called up. But that’s the thing with being enlisted; you never know when your time will come. I always try to imagine what it was like for my husband to be on the other side of the world not knowing what tomorrow will bring. The fear he experienced and the loneliness he must have felt. How does one get through not just one day but 365 days of this? He once described his tour as being like the movie “Ground Hog Day”. He had the same rotation every day. He’d see the same faces, the same open desert, the same CHU’s (housing units-pronounced “chews”) and eat the same food at the chow hall. But there were times he would be put on missions and have to go outside the compound. These days were not easy. Although I never knew where or what he would be doing, he always made sure to give me an ETA and tell me that he loved me. While there were many nights I spent waiting for him to call, we made the best of it. We would send each other care packages and schedule our “Skype Dates”. We would even watch the television series “The Office” together through Skype playing the same episode at the exact same time (although one of us would be ahead by a half a second). Looking back at these moments I can remember feeling small amounts of normalcy. To be able to have just an ounce of normalcy was pure bliss, because it meant another day down till his joyous return home.
On June 24, 2011, amongst the many cheering and emotional families I welcomed him home with opened arms and happy tears. His tour was finally over. I cannot explain the overwhelming feeling of happiness and relief I felt that day. To be able to feel his embrace is something I will treasure forever.
I honestly feel that if I had never experienced being a military wife and what comes with being in the military world I may have taken for granted my husband and our relationship. I make sure to pay attention to the little things and try to document every moment regardless of how big or small it may be. I have learned to be patient, to have strength and to always be thankful.
Veterans day is a day we as Americans acknowledge and dedicate to those who have served our country. Every soldier’s journey is different. Some are hard, some are a bit easier. But we should always remember that these men and woman made a selfless decision to make sure we as Americans are protected, to ensure our freedom and to allow us to not live in fear. And my husband was one of them. I am honored to know such a wonderful soldier. Thank you for your service Zachary, and thank you to all the other amazing men & woman who have served our great nation.
On behalf of EMC Advertising we would like to honor and give our thanks to all the brave men & woman who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving as a member of the American Armed Forces. It is our sincere hope that every American takes time to remember and honor those who’ve severed this Veteran’s Day.