Sunday, October 21, 2007

Life after the army

Three years ago this month, my husband received an honourable discharge from the United States Army, and since then -- thanks to his Veteran's benefits -- he has been attending school at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The ultimate goal is that, in two years from now, he will be teaching English or social studies at the high school level. And that can't happen soon enough.

The transition from soldier to civilian was difficult in and of itself, but having to watch my husband go through university at the same time has been truly painful. Maybe it's been hard for me to watch him because he's older than most of his classmates and he can't always relate to them. Maybe it's because he's been forever changed by serving in two combat wars. Maybe it's because his lifestyle now is so different than it was for the eight years following high school. Or maybe it's because I remember what it was like to be in university myself and I can't stand to watch him have to endure it now. 

Yes, that's definitely it.

The endless research papers and group projects, the memorization of often-useless facts, the all-nighters and early-morning classes -- I don't miss it in the least!

Sure, I miss the overall atmosphere of just being on campus -- the learning, the friendships, the hope for a bright future that  was yet to come -- but I don't miss the stress involved with being a full-time student. I like coming home after work and being able to leave it all behind until my next shift. Being a full-time student is worse than having a full-time job. You don't get weekends off. You don't get evenings off. It's like you're working 24-7. You're constantly involved in projects. You never get a break, and they don't pay you for your effort.

In addition to full-time school, my husband works two part-time jobs. Honestly, I don't know how he isn't losing his mind. Okay, so I do know.

He's got a wife that's willing to cook for him and pack him lunches. And, oh yeah, kick him squarely in the rump when he needs a little extra motivation.

He'd be lost without me, I tell you. It's like he never left the Army after all -- he just got a better-looking commanding officer and a permanent change of station to about 600 km north of the 49th.


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