Military Family Life by Loreena Hegenbart

As I was going through some old papers, I came across an “Outstanding Military Family” award given to
my family while we lived in Amberg, Germany, December 10, 1986. I do not know how they chose our
family, but it was an honor. We were part of a small military community located near the Czech border.
Our commissary had two checkout lanes, one brand of can goods, and limited other products. We
learned to make do with what we could purchase or shop on the local German economy. Our family
immersed ourselves in the many activities of our community. This experience was one of many.
We began in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin Wall surrounded the city. We had only a 20 mile radius of
movement, one key road out of East Germany and 3 flight paths. If we traveled by car we needed
permission and special papers to leave. We also had ration cards for meat, gas, and few other items..
We also had to be prepared to keep a 30 day supply of food (C-rations) in case the “Russians decide to
come across and we have to evacuate 110 miles away to Frankfurt Germany.”

We had a wonderfully challenging 23 years of service. We learned to adapt to our environment. Adapt,
accept, love, hate, encourage, discourage and other adjectives equate most military families’
experiences. We began during the Vietnam war and ended shortly after the Gulf War. Our children
experienced so many aspects of the military life. They were involved in sports; academics plus enjoyed
their time in Germany. They went to the Department of Defense Schools most of their academic life.
Military families look like everyone else, except they usually move their communities every 3 or 4 years (
in our day) unless the active duty person can apply to stay in their area longer. They adapt to their
country in which they are stationed. Their homes, apartments, townhouses, etc floorplan is never the same. So personal items can be limited, financial expenses can take a toll on the family, as well as the
constant movement challenges the children. Children have trouble making lifelong friends. They have
trouble calling someplace home. My son also called Ft Campbell, KY his home and he made a lifelong
friend then. My daughter’s oldest friend is one whom she met at Ft. Campbell as well.

I loved the many opportunities to travel, meet new people, but finding my niche amongst our various duty stations was challenging. Loneliness has taken a toll on my life but my late husband was such a strong supporter. It is so important to find that one person to help you get through deployments, various duties, etc. The Chaplains help a great deal. They helped me get involved with church activities as well as community involvements. I miss the military life. We are a unique breed of resilient adaptable group of people. I am grateful to those who pay their taxes, I really did have a great time being a military spouse.

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