On Power in Community: Words of a Military Wife

When K’Lee Reynolds decided to marry her husband back in 2010, she was in for a life-changing journey. “I knew what was coming, but I also didn’t.”    K’Lee has been living as an army wife for the past ten years. She lives in Kansas, now with her husband and four children. Her husband has been serving in the US Army for almost 14 years. “We’ve been together for 12 years, and married 10 years.”   K’Lee is one of the founders of the Homefront Heroes Ministries. It is a support group whose main purpose is reaching out to young military wives, who face struggles and loneliness on their own.    Plenty of challenges enter the life of a military family. There’s the moving: “You have a lot of different transitions,” she said, “you develop friends, just to find out you’re moving to a new duty station, where you know no one.”    Other difficulties include the times K’Lee had to act as a single parent, or explain to her children ‘why Daddy has to go away’. “He is a combat engineer, so he would go out on long missions,” she recounted. His longest time away was a 16-month deployment in Iraq. Throughout these seasons, K’Lee’s strong community of fellow military families has kept her going.    Kansas has long been her home. In late 2018, when her family was living off-post, there was large rainfall, and their whole area flooded. “We lost furniture,” she said, “everything in our house from the ground to 4 feet up.” Evacuating with her husband, each of them carrying a child, with the water up to her hip, K’Lee admitted it was very scary.    That day, her military family came to their rescue. “It was miraculous - by that afternoon, they showed us to a shelter,” she recounted. “One of my husband’s leaders said, ‘Here’s my son’s car, use it as long as you need it.’” One family willingly shared a house.    “We were a whole family, coming to stay with a whole family,” she recounted. “They gave us their master bedroom. We kept saying no, we couldn’t take it, but they insisted.”    She described it as support like no other. “It was incredible, the way people just showed up for us.”   It continues to be this shared love and care that gives her the strength to persevere, much like her husband in the line of duty. “I don’t think [community] is something optional,” she said, “it’s definitely a need.” And in these communities, the women combat their hardships, and thrive. “I would say relationships in general are important,” K’Lee finally said. “Having someone to lean on. People having people.”  

Mr Phillip Antippa: Finding Music in the Bustle

Phillip Antippa started playing the piano when he was five, the violin at eight, and the viola at around ten. Throughout this time, he also knew he wanted to pursue a medical career.   Now, he is a thoracic surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and a director of the Corpus Medicorum Orchestra. Antippa openly acknowledges the people who have shaped him throughout his journey, mentioning significant role models such as his first music teacher.   “You’re always influenced by the people you meet or surgeons who inspire you. I’m encouraged by colleagues who share my passion. They inspire me to enjoy music like I do and aspire for excellence.”   When asked who he finds most important in his life, he recites an extensive list of family members, co-workers and patients. He ends with saying, “The people that are important to me are the people I’m important to.”   Living a passionate life, he explains, means having to make sacrifices. Loving music and medicine (and the occasional skiing trip) takes a toll on just how much time you can devote to one thing without taking away from another.    “You need to work out for yourself if you think you can do everything, or you think you can do anything. Both of those are possible but they have limitations.”   In other words, find out what is most important to you, and fight for it. He adds, “I’ll never be the musician I want to be because I never have the time to practice. If I did, I would be better at it than I am. I can do anything but it’s limited.”   Antippa professes the importance of community within his musical pursuit, and how this has been highlighted by the COVID-19 shutdown regulations.    “Much of the pleasure that I derive out of playing music is chamber music or orchestral music, which means playing with other people. I play a lot of quartets for enjoyment over the weekends, and that I can’t do either. We depend on each other for our musical satisfaction.”   The orchestra has had to cancel one concert so far, and the future is on shaky ground. Still, there is some hope that, through it all, they will come out with a greater appreciation of everything that was almost taken for granted.   “We know that when it starts back up again we’ll enjoy [playing] in a way we never did before, because we know what it feels like to not be able to do what we want to do.”