I am planning to graduate BYU Idaho with a Bachelors in Nursing and I have considered joining the military part time so that I can be with my family and serve my country. My concern is the time I may be deployed, I will be away from my family. I would like advice on how to prepare for this. Thanks!
Thank you for your question.
First, congratulations on your upcoming graduation, a worthy milestone in your life. When it comes to joining the military, I commend you for your potential willingness to serve your country. I will make an assumption moving forward that you are referring to the U.S. Military since you are attending BYU Idaho. If so, the U.S. Military is full of many wonderful members of the Church who are committed to their families. As I’m sure you are aware, many General Authorities including President Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf have also served in the armed forces earlier in their lives. Military life has many unique challenges, but at the same time many equally unique rewards.
As part of military service, members are almost guaranteed to be away from their families at some point. Time away from your family could be as simple as a few days of training across the country, or a couple of weeks on TDY (Temporary Duty) at a different base/post/installation or even an extended deployment for year across the world in an active combat zone. While it is true you may be away from your family physically, with modern technology such as email and video conferencing your family will be much more accessible than in times past. The military is fully aware of the emotional need that its members require to stay connected with their families and tries extremely hard, within certain expectations, to accommodate those needs.
If you have not already, I would suggest talking with other members who are already active duty and asking them how they successfully juggle family with work absences. Attend a family ward outside of a normal student ward. While there ask if there are any retired or active duty military families you can speak with and learn from them. If none reside in your area, and you are serious about your goal, I would suggest taking a trip to a military ward outside of your area. Hill Air Force Base may be your closest location, but well worth the 2.5hr drive.
The Church has also provided suggestions on their website: Supporting Military Families. Here we find the following:
Dealing with Family Separation
One of the main factors distinguishing a military family from other families in the Church is the frequent and sometimes prolonged periods of family separation associated with military duty. Spouses who remain at home with the children face challenges similar to those of single parents. The family’s challenges may be spiritual and emotional but can also include “everyday” temporal issues such as car repairs, lawn care, snow removal, transportation, finances, child care, work, and school. While the family at home is confronted with these issues, the deployed service member must focus on the military mission.
Families at home will benefit greatly by asking visiting teachers or other Church members to help relieve some of the pressure by providing breaks and activities that can uplift the spouse who remains at home. Relief Society programs, activities, and sisterhood can be a great help for the wives of military members during these times. In families where the military member is a son or daughter who has deployed, letters of encouragement from ward leaders and members can have a profound impact on deployed members and strengthen them in their resolve to live the gospel.
Although family separations are never easy, positive experiences can take place in the lives of those affected as they strive to grow closer to the Savior.
Through out my life I have seen many member military families rise to the occasion and successfully balance family and work loads. The formula to finding family success might be slightly different in the details, however the core fundamentals remain the same for those both inside and outside of the Military. Moving forward I would suggest to continue what you are doing and follow the counsel given in D&C 9:8
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
Thank you again TJ for your questions and may our Father in Heaven, in conjunction with your efforts to study this subject out, bless you to know what the right choice is for you in your life.