Army Special Forces soldiers and their families live a unique existence. Often spending months to years apart, those in and supporting these operators must endure hardships both physical and emotional. However, for those soldiers lucky enough to have spouses and families that share in the belief that their profession is a calling, those times apart in rough and unpredictable environments are a little easier.
Special Forces soldiers must endure roughly two years of training and selection prior to even being assigned to a group. This is very tough, intense training, where language skills and unconventional warfare skills are learned and honed. Time off is brief, as soldiers move from basic training through Airborne and Special Forces-specific education within this period. Families usually live on-base in housing at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the this bank of training takes place.
Special Forces soldiers live the type of life that, even when not actively deployed, must be ready for it at all times. Although all Army personnel deal with this to one degree or another, Special Forces personnel and families usually have no idea where these troops will head off to. Unlike traditional Army reassignments where entire families know where they're going and when – with the Army handling most of the planning and logistics – Special Forces families sometimes remain where they are, while the operator heads off to parts unknown for an undetermined period. The Army does provide assistance and family networking programs, making these often-unexpected transitions a little easier.
Special Forces soldiers are often inserted into potentially hostile areas years before any conventional war takes place. The presence of Special Forces is primarily to train local forces, as well as politically and socially influencing local leaders – sometimes tribesmen in remote zones – to trust these foreigners in their lands. These "hearts and minds" operations are designed to soften or prevent any potential interference or insurgency during and after conventional forces arrive, making the "natives" more friendly to the mission's cause. These types of missions often require years of immersion in local culture, including taking on the physical appearance of the locals and learning language and customs as if by nature.
Special Forces soldiers train, fight and play hard. Operators may engage in family time, additional physical training and extensive visitation of local watering holes. Some families of operators find it difficult to accept and adjust to the fact that these soldiers develop such a bond with other teammates, they find it more comfortable to spend downtime with them rather than their families. Wives and children find it comforting to fraternize with other SF wives and kids, developing their own camaraderie.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.