Growing up Army

The Concordian’s own Vanessa Comtois led a somewhat unconventional childhood. She lets us in on what it’s like to be raised in the shadow of the military. Jessica Simpson is coming out with a new movie called Major Movie Star. In it, she plays an out-of-luck actress who decides to join the army.

The Concordian’s own Vanessa Comtois led a somewhat unconventional childhood. She lets us in on what it’s like to be raised in the shadow of the military.

Jessica Simpson is coming out with a new movie called Major Movie Star.
In it, she plays an out-of-luck actress who decides to join the army. Vanessa Comtois is watching the movie preview with incredulous eyes.
According to her, this movie, like many other army movies that depict a somewhat glamorous image of military life, are a load of something else.
One would be surprised to know what someone as sensitive and delicate as Comtois knows about the army.
She doesn’t fit the “tough chick” profile, but Comtois perhaps knows better than anyone else the non-glamorous side of the army because she grew up so close to it.
Comtois was born to a Lieutenant Colonel father. She has led the kind of childhood that would be hard even on the toughest kids.
Yet, Comtois has emerged optimistic and doesn’t regret the army life she has led.
After spending the first two years of her life in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she and her family left for Germany where her father was stationed.
Within Germany, the Comtois family moved twice. In total, they stayed five years. Her father was then called to Ottawa, where they lived for three years.
They then moved to Chicoutimi (approximately seven hours north of Montreal) and finally to Montreal.
Upon moving here her father gave up his army career to allow his family to live a somewhat normal life and retired from the force.
Growing up army means inevitably living a lonely childhood.
Moving quickly and frequently prevented her from building solid friendships as a young child.
“Most of the students here have known people for more than, let’s say thirteen years. Not me,” says Comtois.
And although sadness clouds her eyes at that recollection, she is quick to find the positive side. Moving also meant traveling.
Traveling meant learning about other cultures. Comtois is no complainer, and that can be sensed from the second you begin speaking with her.
The only time Comtois really disliked her family situation was when her father was stationed in the Gulf War.
She recalls with teary eyes, times when she, her younger brother and her mother would wait from their German home to hear from their loved one, without being able to contact him.
“I remember when I used to cross every day my Dad was gone on a calendar. I was waiting for him to come back without knowing if he would come back alive.”
The moment has passed and Comtois’ eyes are dry again. She will not cry.
Instead she starts thinking about what she has learned from this lifestyle.
Being more independent is one thing. Comtois moved out of her parents’ house earlier this year without any fear or regret.
Because of her upbringing Comtois is also extremely close to her family.
Her philosophy is that people come and go but family always remains. In fact, she considers her mother to be her best friend.
Vanessa comes off as someone quiet and reserved; traits she attributes to her upbringing.
Though she can be quite the party animal, bearing one tattoo and hoping to get another soon.
“I am always on my guard before getting too close to people because I feel they or I could always leave,” she says.
You would think that after all of this, Comtois would have had enough of the army. On the contrary, she is asking for more.
Her younger brother Matthew is currently in military training at the Royal Military College in Kingston.
The idea of being able to live vicariously through his training excites her.
She even considered joining herself. Instead, she chose to study in journalism in the hopes of one day being able to cover war zones, a not so coveted job.
If her dreams come true, she is going to live on a base, wear a helmet and report the progress of our troops.
She is going to live as close to a real army life as possible, without all the glitz and glam of a Jessica Simpson movie.
And that is just fine with her. Comtois may be one tough chick after all.

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