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West Michigan woman reflects on what it's like being 'married to military'

Navy midshipmen march onto the field ahead of the annual NCAA college football game between the Army and the Navy in Philadelphia on Dec. 14.
Navy midshipmen march onto the field ahead of the annual NCAA college football game between the Army and the Navy in Philadelphia on Dec. 14.

"As a military spouse, we support our partners in every way, shape and form."

Marie Burnside may have more than a decade of the title "military spouse" under her belt, but she admits she didn’t know much about the service before meeting her husband Nate after college. Nate was active duty in the Navy for 10 years and now serves in the reserves. As Burnside reflects, she said marrying into a military family came as a "culture shock."

“I was introduced to the reality of military life," she explained, "...When they’re gone we support our households and our children, but also when they move, we move with them, and their commitment really takes precedent over our career goals.”

During the many moves her family made, Burnside recalls putting an asterisk on her job applications. She wanted to be upfront with employers that she may need to leave at a moments notice.

"Most employers didn't see it as a short term thing, they saw it as a commitment to support the military," she shared.

When asked about the affects of military life and deployment on families, Burnside recalled the birthdays, family dinners and vacations missed.

"Deployments were absolutely challenging and can be very lonely at times," she said.

But while Burnside admits these are difficult times to stay patient in, she adds that the experience cultivated an enormous amount of growth.

“The military instills an incredible amount of character and value in our service members, but it also really benefits the families," she said, "The military families I know are some of the most adaptive families.”

Burnside said the work that happens at home is all a part of the commitment to the military and the service for the nation, adding that community is the relational glue that holds military families together. This Veteran and Families Month, she’s calling on community members to get to know military families around them.

“A small phone call or a cup of coffee often makes the biggest difference to know that your community is there for you,” Burnside said.

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