And it’s not an easy life. Military wives move home almost every two years, uproot their children, put their own careers on hold, live in houses they did not choose and make friends only to move on and lose them.
But the greatest challenge of all is when their men say goodbye to travel to the world’s most dangerous places, leaving them behind to nurse their loneliness and learn to be both mother and father to their children.
Fortunately, military wives are also a stoical and enterprising band of women… not least that now famous band of singing sisters whose Military Wives Choir captured the hearts of the nation when they appeared in the popular BBC television series The Choir.
Under the guidance of Gareth Malone, the wives and girlfriends of servicemen currently serving in Afghanistan went through their scales to form a thriving choir in a riveting series of programmes which culminated in their performance of Wherever You Are at The Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2011.
It had been a momentous year and one that changed their lives forever. And now those same wives tell their individual stories in full for the first time – true stories of heartbreak, hope, love and loss that speak to the heart of our country.
From the loneliness and isolation of life on a military base to the challenge of writing to men facing unimaginable horrors and to the choir that gave them comfort, solace and friendship in the darkest of times, these are true, affecting and inspiring accounts straight from the wives themselves.
Most of these 25 women, all from very different backgrounds, had only the haziest idea of military life when they walked down the aisle at their wedding. They don’t claim to speak for all military wives but they are a good cross-section of ages and have husbands in different services and from the range of ranks.
Their stories are moving and fascinating, revealing the pressures and underlying vulnerabilities of their everyday life in the world of the military, as well as presenting a lively account of the exciting choral journey which led to that defining performance at the Royal Albert Hall.
Sales of the book will benefit the Military Wives Choirs Foundation, a network of choirs that now reaches across the military community to provide support, guidance and funding for individual choirs, and , most importantly, continues to bring women closer together through singing.
(Harper, paperback, £7.99)