With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s easy to get caught up in glitter and rose petals, or perhaps in lamentations about being single.

However, there are so many other types of love worth reflecting upon, especially for those of us who journey through the jungle of military existence.

Anyone military affiliated — soldiers or family members — will tell you that military life is not always easy. In fact, it usually never is. Yet regardless of this reality, there are still people who give everything they have, even their lives, for the good of everyone else. This is an altruistic love.

How many individuals do you know who are eager to go to a hostile country and leave their loved ones, their flat-screen TVs and all other creature comforts to face an enemy that despises them, only to hope they will be lucky enough to return in one piece, faculties in tact?

Probably not many.

Inevitably, each serviceman or woman has their own reasons for wanting to embark on such a journey, but for them we are thankful — just as they are most certainly thankful for their battle buddies and families at home. This brings me to my next type of love — devoted love.

Now, let’s address something really quick and get it out of the way: Yes, we’ve all heard the sordid tales of spouses running around behind their soldiers’ backs the second they deploy. Got it. It’s a tough life, and some people just aren’t equipped to deal with the loneliness, the lack of attention. No one is excusing such behavior, but that’s what it is.

Still, apart from these wayward individuals, many of us remain devoted to our soldiers month after month, year after year. We often live in places we don’t want to live, raise children by ourselves, miss our extended families and trudge along through everyday life, counting down the days until our soldiers return. We remain trustworthy and steadfast in the promises we made to our spouses, sometimes long after they are gone (this likewise includes spouses from other countries who meet their soldier, marry and leave home for a new life in a foreign country, far away from everything they know).

Then there’s family love.

Recently, one of my favorite cousins came to visit me. Although we have always been close, I haven’t seen her in almost three years because she lives in New England. She was excited to finally get to meet my little boy and see Texas, but that’s not always the case.

For example, how many times have family members bought a plane ticket to a location they have no interest in visiting just to see a loved one? And, alternately, how many times have soldiers and their families forfeited vacations they would love to go on (:cough: Costa Rica :cough:) to fly or drive home to see their families?

Speaking from experience, a lot. So why bother? For starters, as nuts as my family can be, they are such an important part of my life. I can always enjoy a mai tai, but I can’t always enjoy them. Thus, when the opportunity arises, I head home rather than kicking back with a parrot on some glorious “vacay” (sigh).

But in all seriousness, all of these types of love are the reason the military community stays intact and functioning, even through the toughest of times.

So whether you find yourself enjoying a romantic dinner this Valentine’s Day, or spending the evening at home eating a quiet meal solo, don’t forget to order (or serve up) some chocolate-covered gratitude for dessert.

Abbey Sinclair is a Fort Hood military spouse.

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