Lousy title, I know--but it more or less sums up what I have to say.
My husband was in the Seabees for 21 years, and served on both coasts and all around the world: Cuba, Spain, Greenland, Alaska, and three tours in Vietnam during the war. (I never went with him out of the US because his tours were to short to take family.)
We lived close to Port Hueneme Seabee base for many years and were able to use the commissary, Navy exchange and base hospital which certainly helped financially. We made so little money that we could have gone on welfare. (I bet it's the same for some of the service families today, depending upon where they live.) Most of the time (when I wasn't having a baby) I had a part-time or full-time job so we could eat--sharing half my pay with a babysitter.
During the Vietnam War, civilians were ugly to service men. No one every thanked my husband for his service--more likely they spit on him. Things have changed--now when hubby wears his Seabee cap, people stop and thank him for his service. The wives ought to be thanked right along with the men.
We had five children, and while hubby was serving the U.S., guess who raised the kids? Guess when all the crises happened? Guess who watched the news about the war and when hubby's base was hit, wondered if she still had a husband?
None of these separations are good for marriages. While hubby was gone, I made all the major decisions, took care of everything--when he came home he wanted to be the boss. Finally I told him he might be the Chief in the Seabees, but I was the Admiral at home.
He wanted to stay in the Seabees for 30 years, but by this time the kids were all in the teens, or nearly there, and I put my foot down. It was time for him to give up his uniform and become an active duty dad.
Because we no longer live near a base, we don't shop or go to the doctor there. Fortunately, the government has come up with a medical plan for vets that works and we can go to any doctor of our choice.
Hubby never attends Veteran Day parades or hangs out with vets. He does like to talk about how wonderful the Seabees are and watch war movies.