The first part of my life was normal. By normal, I mean I was born in the house I grew up in. I could have stayed there while going to college, but chose to experience dorm life, and chose to live on my own after college.

I left my normal life, not knowing what I was getting into. I left my family, my friends, my career, my familiar surroundings, everyone and everything I held dear. I left for the most courageous, loving, proud, kind, beautiful, southern man.

I moved to Camp Lejeune, NC to be with him. At that time, there was no base housing available, so we moved from hotel to hotel. We were on a waiting list, but they just told us to keep calling back. Two months later, he deployed! I was alone as a newlywed, and finally moved into base housing.

I was desperate for help! I didn’t think anyone knew I existed. I realized that not only did I need a support system, but many others in my situation did too. So, I created an online forum. I researched military networks and found wonderful organizations with resources and ties.

As time passed, my online forum expanded. The bonds created from this forum are ongoing and strong. This forum, now transformed into a Facebook page for spouses, veterans, families, and friends provides updated informational links while offering peer to peer outreach.

Like all families who experience difficulty reintegrating when returning from deployment, so did we. The trick is to work hard and to keep the love alive. After many years, we had an 11.5 lbs baby!

When I was 6 months pregnant, we got a phone call saying that he was going to deploy. Fortunately, it didn’t happen until the baby was a few days old. Once again, he was gone, and I was alone with an infant baby.

When he called – rarely from Afghanistan – I’d let her listen to his voice. And I’d send him lots of pictures. When they finally met again, there was a look of recognition in the baby’s eyes that seemed to say “I know you!” She fell in love with her dad the way I did, and I fell in love with him all over again.

There are so many stories, some with defeat, sadness, worry, despair, heartbreak, and others filled with joy, courage, victory, and success. When your family is dedicated to this life of service, you are aware or have experienced many of these feelings.

The deployments, the homecomings, the moves, the sorrows, the successes,…these become the new norms.

As a wife of an active duty Marine, military family member, and as a Case Coordinator at Code of Support Foundation (COSF), I feel a deep sense of commitment to both the military community as well as COSF.  I know that these two groups, working together, will result in successful results. I navigate and access Code of Support’s resources and with my skills, experience, knowledge, and deep connection to spouses, families, and community, I make it my goal to help them feel confident and achieve the successes they are seeking and to integrate into society.

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