by Benjamin Ahn
Deputy Garrison Chaplain, U.S. Army
Dongducheon, South Korea
On Veteran’s Day, we take time to honor our veterans and service members. At the same time, we must remember to thank our military families. Their sacrifices are often unrecognized as their service members train, defend, or deploy on our behalf. The families are often left to hold down the home front. When called upon to move in a reassignment, the kids must adjust to a new school, make new friends, and adopt new routines. The spouse must place a career on hold or start over in a new job, a new neighborhood, and church family. Only to do it all over again in two, three, or four years. Our military families need our prayers.
One of the most significant challenges military families frequently face is separation. Separation is inevitable due to combat deployments, unaccompanied overseas tours, temporary duty travel, sea duty, field and training exercises. Separation lasts anywhere from a week to twelve months. The frequent separation brings challenges to both service members and their families.
For service members, the challenge is staying connected and engaged with their family members who are miles away. It’s extremely difficult to be a great spouse or parent when geographically separated. When deployed, I set aside specific face time with my family. Some days I kept the promise, but some days I couldn’t because of a mission. I also utilized one of the United Service Organizations’ programs to record a video of me reading a children’s book and sent it to my kids. That was a great way to be a father to my kids. But I still felt it was not enough.
For family members, the challenge is living a day-to-day life without their spouse or one of their parents. Spouses have to pick up the domestic chores and responsibilities that their spouse usually helped with. They raise their children all alone. Young children suffer from the absence of one of their parents for a long period of time. Separation can feel overwhelming.
All too often, families unfortunately end up broken and marriages end in divorce due to these challenges. Service members, their spouses, and children go through this painful process and suffer emotionally and psychologically from it. It’s a sad reality.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11–12 NKJV)
1 Peter 2:11-12 reminds us of our Christian identities as sojourners and pilgrims. This world as it is now is not our eternal home. It is temporary. Our eternal home is in God’s Kingdom. That’s the reason we must abstain from our sinful natures and not conform to the values of this world. We must live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, even in the middle of separation. Separation is temporary, but family lasts.
- Pray for God’s blessing, strength, and encouragement on military families in separation due to a deployment or overseas tour.
- Pray for service members and their families to abstain from sin and live a life honorable to God.
- Pray for God’s love and grace on military children as they grow in faith, hope, and love.