The Strength of the Military Family

Kenric Smith - Sanford, North Carolina
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, November 9, 2012
Kenric Smith
Photo by Suzette Smith

Kenric Smith is a major in the United States Army who believes that the strength of our military stands directly on the back of our military families.

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I am constantly approached by strangers thanking me for my service to the country and the sacrifices that I give being in the military. I truly appreciate this gratitude and concern and always feel humbled by the generosity of these strangers, but after my most recent deployment, I have realized that I may not be the person who deserves the thanks and credit.

Military families are unbelievable. I, myself, was an Air Force brat who traveled the world and moved every few years, but times now are different. We are in our tenth year of war, and there is no conceivable end in sight. This is a truly trying time in the military and at no time in recent history have our military families had to give so much. One year home and one year deployed has become the standard in the military. Families have become accustomed to dad or mom not being around during holidays and birthdays. Military moms and dads have become accustomed to being single parents, and everyone has become used to keeping in touch a world a way through Skype and instant messaging.

Recently, I learned how much military families have to rely on each other. My wife, a saint, moved away from her home state and endured much of her pregnancy alone with only the support of other military spouses in our new state and home. She lived with the constant fear that I would not make it home for the birth of our child and that there might not be anyone to take her to the hospital when her water broke in the middle of the night. Although I did make it home in time for our daughter’s birth, I felt comforted knowing that many of our friends would take care of her in my absence. I knew that when I could not be there for my family, my extended military family would fill in for me.

Military families rely on each other; they have a bond that others will never know. They are there for each other always. They grieve together, and they celebrate together. They live a life that few will ever know or understand.

So if you ever happen to see me in an airport and thank me for what I do, I may ask you to thank my family because without them I could not do what I do. I believe that the strength of our military stands directly on the back of our military families, and our military families are the strongest in the world.

Kenric Smith is a major in the United States Army currently assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He has had three combat deployments split between Iraq and Afghanistan and has been serving for 19 years. He is married and a father of two daughters, both born during deployments.

Produced by Dan Gediman for This I Believe, Inc. This essay is part of our collection Stories from the Military Family.