From the Homefront

Twice a month, Coast Guard All Hands will feature “From the Homefront,” a column for Coast Guard spouses by Coast Guard spouse Shelley Kimball. Shelley has been married to Capt. Joe Kimball, commanding officer of Air Station Miami, for nearly 13 years and currently serves as chapter director for Blue Star Families in Miami, Fla.

Shelley Kimball and her family. Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Shelley Kimball and her family. Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Written by Shelley Kimball.

This is never what I expected for my life. A Coast Guard spouse? Never in a million years. But here I am, after almost 13 years of marriage and five PCSs. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with this life.

Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Let me explain why this is a still a bit of a shock. I’m an Air Force kid and we moved all around the world during my childhood. Then, just as my Dad retired, my brother enlisted in the Army. I have watched him deploy to combat zones since Operation Desert Shield to now. I’ve lost count of how many times he has been away, but there is a part of my heart that still holds all of the fear and ache of his absences.

So when I was making plans for my own life, being a military family member was not high on the list. Honestly, it didn’t even make it near the list. When I was recently selected as the 2013 AFI Coast Guard Spouse of the Year by Military Spouse Magazine, I told my college roommate. She burst out laughing – one of those deep, can’t breath, tears-in-the-eyes laughs – and said, “If the you of 20 years ago could see the you of now, she would never believe it!”

Some days, the me of now really can’t believe it either. But I know how I got here and it isn’t at all shocking. I did what every one of you did. What every military spouse before me did. I fell in love with an active duty service member. And I love him enough to support what he believes in and join my life to that belief. It really makes perfect sense – this life is what I know. Military family life is all I have ever known.

So that brings me here to you. The Coast Guard has honored me with the invitation to blog about military family life. That’s all the instruction I have – I can talk about anything that matters to us. Some of the topics to come are adjusting to your new community after a PCS, helping your kids adjust to their new schools, housing, childcare and the obstacles to military spouse employment.

My priority is simple, I want to be sure that there is not one Coastie spouse out there who feels lost, alone or confused. There are thousands of us out there ready, willing and able to offer support, guidance, humor and compassion. My job is to do that from right here.

What thrills me most about this blog is the chance to interact with military family members about the issues that define our lives. I don’t want to talk at you, so please talk to me, too. You can do that two ways: use the comments box right below this post, or click on the “Submit Ideas” button on the right side of this page. If there is an issue you want to know more about, ask me. I won’t know all the answers – I never do. But I will figure it out and I will always be honest.

Here’s what I do know. I love being a Coastie spouse in a deep, sappy, ridiculous way. I tear up at every Coast Guard ceremony I attend. I know this life is not always easy but it is a life of principle and integrity, and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.

I can’t get enough of the family members I meet. It has become the joy of my life to reach out and hear your stories. I am so honored to be among you. I have known what it is so be a shy, military kid, a confused new military spouse, an uncertain mom raising military kids and an unemployed professional spouse. I bet many of you know those experiences, too. So let’s lean on each other and share this experience together.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Commandant or of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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