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We are the Scattered

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Written by Guest Writer

Kasie Purvis


It was 2017, and, y’all, I had it all. I was married to a wonderful man, we had two very young and energetic boys, and I was working my dream job for federal law enforcement. I was set up to be able to work there for the next 30 years and achieve as much professional growth as I wanted. I was living in the future that I had planned for my entire life. But, on a day that I never thought would come, I started to feel like the hustle and bustle of my career and my husband’s career had started to put a strain on our family.

Over the next several months, we would stay up until midnight discussing the pros and cons of one of us leaving our professional careers. Neither of us had a clue what to do if we left our current jobs. After those months of sleeplessness started to take their own toll, we changed our method of trying to figure out this complicated problem on our own. So, we came together one night as we were lying in bed, faced each other, grabbed each other’s hands, and began to pray out loud together. I believe this moment changed everything for us.

A Serious Change

We stopped our late-night discussions, and, a few months later, my husband came to me and said that we should pursue Army Active Duty. I definitely gave him a look, because we were in our thirties, had already spent 12 years in the Army National Guard, and had two children. I myself served for six years as a CBRN Sergeant in the Alabama Army National Guard, having joined in 2009 when there was still a strong military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kasie & her husband, Justin, in military service

With my own experience in the military and this life changing decision that we were facing, my mind quickly went to a time when I was on a night-shift team with the Army National Guard helping locals with tornado disaster relief. In the National Guard, our job is to respond to natural disasters that occur within the state. In this particular situation, therefore, I helped prevent looters and worked alongside the local police department to ensure safety in this disaster-affected area of Alabama. I remember sitting in a HMMWV, checking the news, and learning that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. My team and I had our mission on the home front, and another military team had had that mission in a compound in Pakistan.

This memory had surfaced because what my husband was saying we needed to pursue was not a decision we could make lightly; missions like those I described are real, deployments are real, and being stationed anywhere in the world with the military is real, too. Looking this opportunity in the face, I felt such a range of emotions. I was extremely proud when thinking of my husband serving on active duty, scared to death of where we would go or what dangerous missions he might be assigned, and excited for all the experiences that would be headed our way.

Amidst these swirling emotions, a huge question still loomed in front of both of us. How in the world were we going to make this change and leave all of our family and friends behind? This was certainly not how I had envisioned that prayer being answered when we were seeking guidance and more family time.

Culture Shock

Shortly after that conversation, we put in the application to go from National Guard to active duty, and we waited. Then we lived by the “hurry up and wait” motto, and, wouldn’t you know, we were on active duty four months later. I have to say it was a seamless and low-stress process for us, which gave us so much peace about moving from Alabama to North Carolina while we left everything and everyone we knew behind.

Once we arrived in North Carolina, we lived about 45 minutes from the military base. It was like we were in the military but surrounded by everyone else who wasn’t. …and we were in culture shock. It was the first time I had ever lived in such a large neighborhood, the first time we were able to cut the grass in 20 minutes because the yards were so small, and the first time I had a recycling garbage can. Don’t judge me—I was just a country girl moving to the city for the first time. Also shocking was that, on my street alone, no one was native to the area; we were all just transplanted in for a new job. This was such a foreign concept to me because, back home, everyone living in our little town in lower Alabama had been born and raised right there.

I quickly wondered how I was going to find community with people who were from all over the world. I was just hoping someone would befriend a girl from Alabama who had a thick country accent, loved football, and would talk to anyone who locked eyes with her. Getting over my initial overwhelm, I started looking for friends who would want to explore the new area and share new experiences with me. The first place I went to was my backyard. We had a concrete walking path that wound around our house, and people were constantly walking by. As I started talking to a few folks, I found that they were also looking for community because they had just moved into the area as well.

Out of those four years in North Carolina blossomed some of the best friendships I could have ever imagined. We were all in search of community because many of us didn’t have family in town to rely on for date nights, to attend our kids’ birthday parties, or to just be recognized in the grocery store. Our family had come from a hometown where community is already built, where friends stop by after work and hang out for dinner. When our community place changed, we had to completely change the way we built our community within it. It’s just like Leonardo DiCaprio is quoted as saying: “Every next level of your life will demand a different you.”

"…there has to be a way to bridge the gap between civilians who move often and military spouses who don’t live on base." @iwillwaitvsp Share on X

Bridging the Gap

After our time was up in North Carolina, we had a PCS to South Carolina. This time, the culture of community was the opposite. Everyone was from that area…which meant everyone already had their community built. Similarly to our previous duty station, we lived about an hour away from base, so connecting with military spouses on our assigned base was not feasible. In some ways, it felt like we weren’t even a part of the military community because we were so far removed from it. It was like we were living in the civilian community but were just unusual people who moved every 3 years. Honestly, it was lonely.

This got me to thinking: there has to be a way to bridge the gap between civilians who move often and military spouses who don’t live on base. Trust me, I tried to find that bridge but couldn’t. There were Mom Groups, Mom of Toddler Groups, and Military Spouse Groups for those who lived on base. But what about the military spouses scattered around the military base who don’t fit into those groups? Frustrated but determined, I decided to come up with something to help others transition into their new communities and find their people along the way. After consistently brainstorming, I created Gather The Scattered Podcast.

This podcast helps me continually work toward my mission of bringing together the spouses that feel like they don’t belong in a specific group and those facing the same obstacles of displacement—whether they fit into military or civilian categories. There is something to learn from both sides, and there’s community in that. Common themes have already shown up when I’ve asked my variety of guests about their experiences with being “scattered.” They’ve described how hard it is to find truly connected friendships—those friendships where you meet up with each other more than just once a week, the ones in which you can confidently share some of the hard things you’re facing, the ones with people you just do life with.

With each guest, I’m always surprised with the takeaways. Sometimes, I feel like their encouragement is not only for my listeners; it’s for me, too. We all have had very different experiences in the same military, but what I’ve come to realize is that we all want the same thing: a support system and a community that will hold us through the ups and downs.

As is always the case with life, I’ve experienced those ups and downs while running the podcast itself. Because the mission is so personal and important to me, I’m emotionally attached to the direction it takes. I know how hard it is feeling like the outcast each time you move somewhere new. I constantly think of the spouse who is sitting in her home surrounded by a culture she’s unfamiliar with, feeling lonely because no one even knows she’s new, and feeling confused because we don’t have built-in manuals on how to make friends as an adult.

A Place for the Scattered

Looking back on those sleepless nights my husband and I spent mulling over what life change to make and then whether or not life as an active duty family was truly something we could handle, I felt so resistant and fearful. I would love to be able to go back and tell myself that the resistance can turn into resilience if you allow yourself to lean in.

My broader hope for this podcast is to have a place for military spouses and transient civilian spouses to land when they are entering a new community. There is so much domestic migration within the U.S. People are scattered all across the nation and need community. My vision is to bring those people together and to eventually have in-person meetups in order to continue growing that connection. Ultimately? I want to serve as a community welcome party for those missing out on one.

As someone who is part of the scattered, I would tell other military spouses that there is someone who is waiting on your friendship in the community you’re in right now. Let that comfort you and motivate you to find your people! Don’t be scared to join that local Mom Meetup, in-person Bible study group, or that pickle ball team.

At the end of the day, whether you’re moving because of a military PCS, a civilian job, or any host of other reasons, there are people to help you actually move to a specific area. There are movers, realtors, and contractors who will get you from point A to point B, but there is often no one there to help you connect because we are…The Scattered.

While that may just be what life looks like for you right now, you don’t have to be scattered alone.

There’s a place for you. You just have to be willing to find it. 

The Purvis Family

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Kasie is a small town country girl, veteran, and military spouse. She worked for the federal government for 10 years and served in the Army National Guard for 6 years. She is the host of Gather The Scattered Podcast that helps families transition into communities and find their people along the way. 

The link to the podcast can be found on the Apple Podcast platform. 

Gather The Scattered | Finding Community, Military Spouse Community, Building Friendships on Apple Podcasts


Are you an active duty or veteran milspouse interested in being a guest writer for VSP? Get in touch with your details and topic interests on our contact page!

Tags :
Career,Community,Loneliness,Military Family,Military Life,Military Moving,Military Spouse,Milspouse,PCS,Podcast,Veteran
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