When I first met Jon he was attached to a submarine on the Naval Base in Kings Bay, GA. We went through multiple Underways while we dated, as well as periods with him home. The back and forth was very difficult, but we made it through.
All throughout I was told of the promise that is Shore Duty. The time after his contract would be up for Sea Duty and he could sign on for another couple of years of teaching, recruiting, or some other non-boat based job. It felt like the Holy Grail of the Navy, a time of togetherness without the looming promise of multiple months apart. I was so excited for the change.
Shore Duty came in the form of a teaching job out of the New London Naval Base. 10 months in, I've started to really look at the differences in Sea Duty and Shore Duty and realize that they aren't so starkly different. One isn't so much better than the other. I actually missed parts of Sea Duty.
Out of curiosity, I asked the girls in a Navy SO Facebook group the pros and cons of Shore Duty to see if what they said matched how I was feeling. The overall consensus is that Short Duty is GREAT because there's no deployments. I'm inclined to agree. Even though we didn't live together until we got married, Jon's absence for months on end caused a lot of separation anxiety. And Navy SO's are inclined to beware Murphy's Law while our men are gone. Heck, I got attacked by a dog on the first deployment I went through with Jon.
But I also saw a lot of cons about having them home too much, if you can believe it. I can understand this to a certain extent, having to learn to live as a married couple - to share the same bed, closet, home - hasn't been the easiest. But the women I spoke with also talked about uprooted routines, kids who weren't used to having their dad discipline them, and more. The Navy sends families all over the world, changing lives and homes whenever it needs to. I have so much respect for the wives and families who have moved and been around much longer than I have. From enduring pregnancies during deployment to moving across the sea to Hawaii, Japan, or elsewhere for a shore duty, they have cultivated a strength that I can only hope to embody.
It's why communities within the military are so important. With Shore Duty, not having one so easily is the con I think everyone in that Facebook group and I could agree on.
Jon works on a really active base, so there is a ton of military activity surrounding me, but I still find myself on the outside of a lot of it. The Navy tries to do as much as they can for spouses, but it's mostly geared towards handling deployments. And don't get me wrong, I needed it then and I'm so thankful that FRG's and boat families exist. It just means that I really miss it when I don't have it.
Jon has a command, but there's not the same type of bond that you get from living in an enclosed space for months at a time. Spouses don't have an FRG to do events with because we don't need any distractions from our husband's being gone. But the boat community is one of the most special things I've ever been a part of. The lack of need on Shore Duty does nothing to replace that want in my heart.
I'm so grateful that Jon is home. I'm grateful for the chance to live in a new city, for Jon to have a job that lets him come home early most days, for the chance to take all the vacations we've missed. All of this is so, so good. But it's not the Holy Grail. I don't think that any job, in or out of the Navy, will fulfill that promise. There's still a sacrifice there. It's okay to have the Shore Duty blues.
For me, it's a reminder that I crave community. I know there's one out there waiting for me to join them. Now I have to find it.