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Dating the Military

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By Claire Brown

Shark Correspondent

Most of you probably don’t take any teenage relationship too seriously. I don’t blame you; most people my age have a new significant other every month. There are some of us, however, who are able to maintain a long relationship while in high school. A lot of Cedar Key boys head straight for the military after graduation, some of them leaving behind their girlfriends. This is our story, the story of a military girlfriend.

Molly Gordon, CKS Junior, and I are both "dating the military." Molly is dating Matt Tysinger, CKS 2011 graduate, who is in the U.S. Army, and I am dating Tyler Beckham, who graduated the same year and is in the U.S. Navy. November 17 will mark one year since Molly and Matt started dating. As for Tyler and I, March 4, 2012, will be two years.

Molly and I both agree that unless you are in the situation, it is impossible to understand what a military girlfriend has to handle. That’s why I’m writing this article, to give you an idea of what it’s like as best I can in a few paragraphs.  Something Molly and I have both had to get use to is a lack of communication.

Molly hears from Matt once, sometimes twice, a week. I hear from Tyler almost every night; however, these calls are sometimes as short as three minutes. The small amounts of communication make us cherish every second on the phone. Since Tyler has left for the military, my phone has never been far from me because, as Molly and I both know, missing a phone call is the worst feeling.

The hardest part of dating someone in the military is to go from seeing them any time you want to never seeing them. Tyler used to live three miles down the road from me. Great Lakes, Ill., where he's stationed, is 1,118 miles from Cedar Key.

When I asked Molly what she thought the hardest part of being in a military relationship was, she responded with, "The worst part is I never know what to expect. In the military, things can change in the blink of an eye. And there’s no arguing with what happens. The Army doesn’t take no for an answer." I agree that this is one of the most difficult parts of this lifestyle. I have no idea where Tyler will be located after he finishes school in March. He could be in Florida, closer to me, or he could be in Hawaii. You really have to be realistic with yourself and not get your hopes up for anything.

It’s not all bad though. Molly and I both think that boot camp was good for Matt and Tyler. It changed them a lot, and made them grow up. They are stronger, both physically and mentally. They have more confidence in them- selves. I can tell when I talk to Tyler that even though he wants to come home, he’s proud of himself and what he’s doing. Knowing that he feels that way makes dealing with this much easier. Molly says, "The military, no matter how much the girlfriends don’t like it, is such an awesome, life-changing experience for our boys. I love what it has made Matt become." I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Not only has the military changed the guys, it’s changed us too. You learn to be patient when you’re dating someone in the military. You have to be accepting of the fact that he may not be able to talk to you every day and not get aggravated with him for this. Dating someone in the military shows you how strong (or weak) your relationship is because you have to stand the test of distance, silence, and time. Tyler told me that many couples don’t make it through boot camp.

Also, we’re more patriotic now. We supported our troops before, but now it’s even more real to us. I never change the radio station when one of Toby Keith’s incredibly patriotic songs come on. I think of our troops when I say the Pledge of Allegiance in the mornings. I pray for all of them every night.

While our soldiers are away, to make the time go by faster, we immerse ourselves in school, sports, clubs and jobs. We spend time with friends, and we support each other. Like I said earlier, if you aren’t in the situation, you do not understand. So, it’s wonderful to have someone in your life to relate to who is dealing with the exact same thing.

Tyler said to me once, "Everyone says that they’re proud of me, but what they don’t realize is it’s you that keeps me going each day." I think this statement pretty much sums up the life of a military girlfriend. I’ve heard people refer to us as the silent ranks, the ones behind the scenes. You support your soldier, sailor, coastie, marine or air- man. You’re there when he needs to talk to you or when he needs a reminder of how proud everyone back home is. You stay strong for him. You don’t give him guilt trips about being away. You remind him every day that you love him and you can’t wait to see him again.

Yes, it’s a hard life, but we chose it, and we aren’t complaining. We’re proud to be military girlfriends. We’re proud of our soldier and sailor, as well as all the other service men and women out there. Thanks for all y’all do.