A blog from Army&You’s summer edition by Julie Boyle

I met Owen almost eight years ago and I knew then that life would be a rollercoaster!

Living more than two hours apart meant we saw each other at weekends and when Owen was on leave, when other army commitments didn’t interfere. At times it was hard to make the distance work but somehow we muddled through.

In 2014 we married and moved into our first quarter in a camp, miles from anywhere; I was officially living behind the wire. It was my first proper taste of army life, armed guards greeting me on the gate and signing-in processes for guests. Funnily enough, this is one thing I’ll miss as we move into civvy street. Life in quarters was full of ups and downs, you spend large amounts of time alone while the other half is away – on courses, exercise, ops and the various other ways in which they get sent off for days, weeks or months at a time.

I didn’t know anyone other than people Owen worked with, and I didn’t go to any of the coffee mornings as I was working – my job meant I was able to meet people and build a network for myself.

Family were a few hundred miles away, so it was important I forged some friendships. Although I never minded the isolation of camp, I wonder how I would have felt if I hadn’t had a job.

In 2016 our lives changed with the birth of our baby girl, Chloe. I wondered how I was going to spend the 12 months of maternity leave stretching before me, but I’d made some lovely friends at antenatal classes and I started to go to the tots’ groups and coffee mornings on camp. I now count some of the ladies I met amongst my closest friends. Once Chloe had arrived, Owen going away became more of a challenge. Having the groups to go to made me feel more secure and gave structure to our days. You get into a routine and it sort of works. I think it hit Owen harder as he missed out on some of her ‘firsts’.

As Chloe has got older the times away have been harder as she understands that he isn’t here. I stumbled across Reading Force (readingforce.org.uk) and we began spending time together reading and crafting – it was great to then talk to Owen about the books and activities we were doing at home while he was away.

Our time as a military family is coming to an end and we’re moving onto a new chapter. Life in the military has been filled with highs and lows, and although I’ve only been in it a short while I will miss it, particularly the friendships, the support, and the understanding from others about what this life can be like.

I’m very proud of Owen and the sacrifices he has made to serve. It’s now time for us to turn to what’s next on our journey.

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