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Military Life and Mental Health

Updated on December 3, 2019
Anja Brkljaca profile image

I am a part of the Croatian Armed Forces soldier's life and I am thankful for each and every service our military has done so far.

So, my partner is in the military. And this is that story...

I am partially familiar with the American military family lifestyle, but, what's with the European?

I am in the relationship for almost 3 years now and from the beginning, I was introduced to army life.

There is a lot of waiting and wondering and long-distance communications. And, somehow, we make it work. Sometimes, there is no escape from the loneliness other than wait for your partner to come home.

So, how the Croatian army works is that there are not many deployments and I am very grateful for that. He is stationed in another city, 3 hours from our hometown, with a lot of guardian hours that he has to fill in, so I don't see him often throughout the month. Also, due to a lot of training in different military bases, we are rarely seeing each other. He would usually come during the weekends for 48 hours and get back into his car and drive every single Sunday to work, so he can be fresh and rested for Monday morning duties.

When I tell you, right as I thought that we were done with the long-distance - 6 months in Poland happened!

Exactly a year ago, he was deployed.

It was then that I've realized how much I didn't mind those few days in a month that I had the opportunity to see him. I am telling you, you don't know what you have until you lose it.

We were surprisingly rocked solid when he got deployed but I was actually feeling a minor explosion in my chest. As if a part of myself is missing.

It isn't until then that I've came to conclusion that he is a part of my whole life and I don't want him out - Ever.

So, this Poland thing happened and it was thankfully a peaceful mission of the Croatian armed forces. He described it as a camp with a couple of European and the American battlegroups.

What a nice 6 months up North, am I right? No war in sight, I didn't have to worry about his well-being because he was having fun actually.

Nonetheless, I was relieved, but I was kind of depressed. I never knew how painful is non-presence can affect my day-to-day mood.

And let me get myself straight for a second. So, now that I'd found out that he is probably not going to die and my depression over that was gone. The sadness over those 6 months of not seeing him rolled in. Wow, what a correlation, am I right? Brain chaos.

FINALLY. The day has arrived.

(Don't get too excited, he is not home yet at this point.)

But, somewhat 2 months in, he told me that they've been permitted by their platoon commander a 5 days off during the Christmas holidays. I was absolute, over the moon excited because I really thought that I am going to sit at home and wait for the whole 6 month period until his homecoming.

So, the New Year's Eve rolled around and I was in the airplane heading to Warsaw, Poland. Luckily, I had company. My partner's combat colleague has a girlfriend that also flew with me.

Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport
Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport

I am happy to say that army brought four of us together.

We finally landed, they were waiting for us at the terminal exit and the rest is history. We had the most magical New Year of 2019. that easily could not measure with any of the previous we've celebrated (and we have had some good ones, let me tell you). Who would've thought that the New Year's for once will not represent the day like every other? Uh, it was such an experience.

Walk through Śródmieście, Warsaw
Walk through Śródmieście, Warsaw

Sadly, those 5 days gone by so quickly and we had to say our goodbyes.

Let the (actual) games begin. 4 more months without him. I had college to look out for and in the meantime, I've gotten a new job as a sales associate in a Tourist Agency that I did an internship for.

So, why couldn't I keep my head in the book and the concentration at work? Oh yeah, the love of my life is gone. That's why.

He is such a trooper. Everytime we'd facetime he would do his usual poker face just so I couldn't see his misery.

So, if you ask me now, those 6 months flew by honestly. But, being right there in that particular moment as it was happening a year ago - I was a an emotional avalanche.

A lot of our Croatian combat groups in special forces were actually deployed in Afghanistan, and that is the most devastating thing I could hear from anyone. I've heard some stories from the American soldiers in Poland and their experience in Afghanistan and it definitely ain't a ball.

My heart goes out to families that are wondering what's happening with their deployed loved ones. The heartache they feel when national or local news announce yet another bombing in those combat regions.

I didn't have to deal with any of that. And yet, I felt entitled to feel some sort of sadness and loneliness.

Now I feel stupid because I've never in those 6 months told myself: "Listen, he is healthy. He is alive. He is there. So many of them aren't."

I was so caught up in the moments of my own selfish feelings.

And meanwhile there is a mother that is waiting for her son's homecoming from the overseas deployment. There is a wife that's worrying every day whether or not her husband is alive. There is a daughter that is patiently anticipating her mother's footsteps through that door.

And I am over here dealing with depression over my partner's deployment. ON A PEACEFUL MISSION - might I add. Such ignorance.

Actually, one of our Croatian special forces army member recently died in Afganistan due to a suicide bomber attack. He left his wife and his one-year-old child behind. And if that doesn't tell me that I should reconsider my future emotions, I don't know what is.

I can conclude these thoughts by just saying:

I am a proud girlfriend of the Croatian Armed Forces soldier and I am thankful for each and every service our military has done to help fighting against terrorism.

I am happy to say that my partner is healthy, happy and content at his job. He is passionate about protecting our country and helping others in need.

4th Croatian Army contingent deployment
4th Croatian Army contingent deployment

I've managed to learn that a relationship is something that you shouldn't take for granted. If your relationship can survive the military - it can survive anything!

And no matter how much distance seems to push our buttons - that is the man I want to marry! ♥

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Ms A


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