We all know about the great sacrifices our military men and women make in order to protect our country. They are constantly training and learning to keep our country safe, live with the possibility of deployment and often spend months at a time away from their loved ones as they train and serve - often missing out on important life events like the birth of their children. And . . . depending on what is going on in the world they are sent to places that aren’t safe, see life changing things that cannot be erased from their memory and come back expecting to fit into civilian life 'just like that' . . . Not an easy task!
With my own son serving in the US Air Force and my fiancee having over 18 years into the Army, having heard stories and wondered how I would have “made it through that” - I am intrigued by the military - the constant sacrifices they make, the systems that are put in place for success and of course… the struggles.
As far as I'm concerned - men and women in uniform are heroes. But anyone who has spent much time with military families knows how difficult that life can be for their families, too. Moving every few years makes it hard to lay down roots and establish a network of trusted helpers, which we all know is so important when raising kids.
Just ask Kevin, Marti, and their son Keith. Kevin is in the Marines, which he says is its own kind of tight knit family, too.
I find military families beautiful and saw an unwavering strength in Marti and Kevin as a couple the first time I met them when I photographed their son Keith with Santa - at our “Charleston Santa experience” event this past November. Marti and Kevin have something that I don’t see often in young couples…. they are genuine, articulate, confident and incredibly decisive as a TEAM. They consult each other on decisions in a way I don’t see other couples twice their age do - all incredibly attractive qualities and I cannot help but believe that this is due, at least in part, to their military life! Not only are they respectful, kind and all the above - they are also an incredibly attractive couple who made an adorable little Keith- age 6 :) It was such an honor to work with them again and I truly feel like a better person for knowing them. My customers may not realize this . . . but they ALL affect me in one way or another. I get to be a part of their lives and see things and learn with them. I feel incredibly blessed because in a way I'll always be a small part of their story! Furthermore - I look at Kevin and I think…. ok - I REALLY hope my son who is now 20 finds an amazing beautiful woman like Marti and has the same type of values that this couple has. AND I really hope I get a little grandson like Keith! (and more!) in the future. I know I am not family to them - but in my mind they are like family now to me. No matter how much time goes by, I will never forget how this young couple affected me and how impressed I am by their values. I know their life is far from perfect because lets face it - life is not easy - but I feel like they have more going for them then they realize and I am so proud of them and what they offer the world.
Family is everything and when I meet a family that exudes the same values as I - working with them is even a bigger treat!
I learned A LOT about this couple and wanted to share a little about them!
Here are some questions I asked them and what they said....
Why did you join the Marines? Kevin: I joined the Marines because I wanted to have a tight knit family.
Have you been deployed? Where and for how long? Kevin: I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 for 8 months, leaving from Cherry Point. I am a firefighter in the Marine Corps (7051) While I was deployed, I was with Dust Off and my crew would assist in vehicle extrication and would assist the army medics with casualties.
What was your job? Kevin: I have had a few different jobs in the Marine Corps. I started out as a firefighter (7051) then I had the opportunity to be a Drill Instructor (0911) at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and while I was there I also obtained the MOS for a Martial Arts Instructor (0916)
How does Keith (age 6) feel about the military? Marti: He knows Kevin’s job and what the military does. He doesn’t know it to be anything special of “different” though. It’s just how his life is and I think it would be a shock to him to if Kevin got out and he wasn’t around military bases, uniforms, and regulations.
What are the biggest sacrifices that you feel you make to support Kevin? Marti: Moving. I give up the stability I wish I could have from seeing the friends I had growing up every couple of years because he moves so often. We can’t really set roots and do all the normal things others can. When we look into buying a house, we go into it saying “well, can we sell it in three years? Should we rent it out?” or when we buy furniture we say “Will this hold up? Will it fit into the next house?” We lose out being close to family for holidays, new babies, losing family members, etc. because traveling is costly and sometimes leave time isn’t always granted. It also has an effect on our relationship because when we move somewhere new with no family close by, we don’t trust anyone with our son so we don’t get a lot of alone time. We’ve gone 2-3 years with no date night so we lost “us” for a while in the early years. Losing friends has been tough. We talk even after we move but my son and I always go through the motions of feeling very alienated every 3-4 years because we move to where we know no one. It’s isolating and actually depressing. My anxiety has gotten worse over the moves meeting new people and I’ve become a lot more timid with every new duty station. (Currently on our fourth)
What is your favorite thing to do as a family? Marti: I think our favorite thing to do as a family is take trips when we can. We love visiting places and seeing old friends when possible. My favorite thing to do with Keith is taking him to do things he hasn’t done before. He’s at the age where he’s able to do a lot more now so seeing how he reacts or how he feels about certain things afterwards makes me really happy to see. We recently took him to play mini golf and he thinks it’s the most amazing thing ever. Kevin: I feel like my favorite thing to do as a family is do new things. I like being outside so just doing yard work and playing sports. I like teaching Keith new things like cooking, homework problems, shaving his face, using tools, grilling, etc.
Every time I see Kevin & Marti I learn more about them. When I last saw Marti we talked a little more about their life here in Charleston, SC. Currently at Joint Base Charleston - Kevin is going to school to go from enlisted to be an Officer at the Citadel a prestigious Military collage here in South Carolina - in the MECEP program. They juggle a lot but their priorities in life are exactly what they should be: supporting and loving one another, enjoying and making memories with their son and serving this amazing country we get to call home.
It is with GREAT admiration that I say, "THANK YOU Kevin for serving and keeping our country safe ad THANK YOU Marti for doing the same! You may not be a 'Marine' but along with Kevin you also sacrifice a lot. As for Keith - THAT FACE! :)
With a very grateful heart,
Maria Sampaio, the artist that will ALWAYS remember you guys!
You have filled my heart and moved me with your love, stories and exude so much of what this world needs. Don't stop! We need more families like you!