January 3, 2018
By Derek Auguste, Platoon Leader
I feel this is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention.
After you transition out of the military and into civilian life, you might be coming back to a family that’s been living without you for a while. It’s not just you that’s “transitioning” — it’s your family too. That transition is tough. It was for me. It was for my wife and kids.
Feeling Like an Outsider
I taught my children that celebrating birthdays and holidays were not as important as the time we had together overall. This philosophy was meant to protect them from being disappointed if I was unable to be home for such special occasions. I thought I was protecting them. But really, I was protecting myself from feeling guilty.
I enlisted in 2004 when my daughter was three years old. Of my eleven years of service, I spent nearly five years of it away from home. That was five years where my wife was essentially a single mother.
And when I came be home in between deployments, I felt like an outsider. My wife and children had a routine, and I did not want to disrupt it.
So while we may have been living in the same house, we were on different schedules, having different experiences, and growing in different directions.
When I was home I never felt fully unpacked–there was always the lingering threat of another deployment, another mission, or another event that would call me away again. So while we may have been living in the same house, we were on different schedules, having different experiences, and growing in different directions.
When I separated from the Army in 2015, it was challenging to find my place in the family dynamic. My children relied on their mother for everything for the past eleven years, and so I couldn’t expect them to suddenly rely on me now that I was home.
Transitioning as a Family
My family was the reason why I stayed out of trouble. But it was the accomplishment of the mission that got me up early in the morning or staying up all night. It was the sense of purpose and fulfillment of serving in something greater than myself.
It was during this transitional time when I found The Mission Continues. I completed the fellowship program and continued to volunteer with the Miami 1st Service Platoon. As a family, we began creating new experiences together by participating in Mission Continues service projects.
It was during these service projects that my family got to see the side of me that they had never gotten to see before.
Just like in the military, it was the accomplishment of the mission that got me up early, but this time it was to help prep for a service project.
Another difference was that now my family would be there too. They’d help me complete the project, and on a number of occasions, even stay late with me to finish it.
It was during these service projects that my family got to see the side of me that they had never gotten to see before. They got to see me in action, me full of purpose. They even were able to rely on me.
Our bond is stronger than ever. Now I’m the one the kids ask for when they need something and it sure feels great being a part of an amazing team.
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.