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military spouse

Military

Why Military Spouses Make Great Friends

June 22, 2017

Dear civilian readers,

Please become friends with a military spouse. I know it may seem like we have a lot of drama in our lives, but that’s all Hollywood nonsense. You may think that we would make cruddy friends because of all the extra stuff going on. But that’s so not true! In fact, we make really good friends thanks to the lessons we’ve learned as military spouses.

We’re flexible.

I’m not sure you could find a more flexible friend than a military spouse. Have to change plans 15 times because of your work/kids/in-laws/hot water heater? No worries, the military just changed where we were moving 16 times so you’re still coming out on top.

We won’t be clingy. 

Our spouses leave for months at a time. We move halfway across the world where we know no one. We’ll be ok if you have a busy week at work and don’t return our text.

We have a pretty good sense of humor.

You don’t survive life as a military spouse without a sense of humor. When Murphy’s Law comes knocking during deployment, you have to laugh or you’ll straight up cry. We can find humor in every day situations, even when it seems like everything stinks.

We have random skills that could come in handy. 

Need something fixed around the house? Call us! Odds are we’ve had to fix it ourselves or know exactly who to call.  We’re resourceful, independent and most of us are fairly familiar with the contents of a toolbox.

If you don’t like us, no worries. We’ll move in a few years. 

Sometimes friendships run their course, but the person is still in your life every single day. You don’t have to worry about this with military spouses. Every few years, we pack up and move to a new spot, giving both of us chances to let the friendship fizzle out.

We’re good at maintaining relationships, even long distance.

But on the flip side of that, take comfort in knowing that we are very good at maintaining relationships, even when they are long distance. We’ve had plenty of practice staying in touch with people far and wide and will stick by you no matter how far apart we are.

So to all of my civilian readers: find that military spouse in your life and become friends! We may just be the best friend you’ve ever had.

What makes the military spouses in your life such good people to have as friends?

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Amanda From Airman To Mom

June 1, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

I’m Amanda, former Air Force member and now military spouse and stay at home mom. I have two boys, ages 3 and 1. We currently live in Southern California, enjoying the beautiful weather and frequent trips to Disneyland. I blog about thriving in the transition from military to motherhood. I love finding way to inspire others through the transition.

What inspired you to start blogging?

The transition from military to motherhood was rough. My husband had to go to 8 weeks of training about 8 weeks after my first son was born. Those eight weeks were so hard and I was so lonely and pretty sure I was failing at motherhood. Through it I found blogs, the most influential being Lisa Jo Baker’s blog. I ended up joining her launch team for her first book, Surprised by Motherhood and by the time her book was released I joined the blogging world and started sharing my story. I wanted to encourage other moms.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

You can do it. It doesn’t matter what you have done or what you are going through now. You can do it and you can thrive in the transition. It is going to be hard and you may fail a few times, but when you come out the other end you will be stronger from what you have gone through.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

Getting to live in so many different places. Moving is a good and bad thing because you don’t really get to put down roots and when you do you have to move again. But I have made some amazing friends and I have loved learning and traveling this great nation of ours. I am dreading the next move, since we will be leaving my home state, but excited about what new friends and experience we will have for the rest of our military life adventure.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

I started out as military spouse who was also serving in the military. I had a hard time finding my way between being a spouse and being in the service. Luckily my first base had a great spouse club and they loved me just the way I was. My second assignment I transitioned from military to motherhood and it was a really hard experience. I was so lonely. I knew people, but most of them knew me as military Amanda and not mom Amanda. And apparently the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. When we moved to LA, I was determined to make friends and fill the void I had felt. I got lucky and found friends quickly and have had so many amazing experiences at this assignment. It will be hard to leave and go on to the next adventure, but that’s the military way.

It has been hard to be on the other side of the military, when you are in your job is easy and you know a lot of the why and so you just do what you have to do. But I have realized how much harder it is to be a spouse to support your spouse when you don’t know the why and often have a harder job being left behind to take care of little humans who sometimes can suck the life right out of you. There isn’t a lot of hoopla for the spouses and they deserve so much gratitude and respect.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Be ready for the adventure and try to enjoy it. My husband keeps asking me where he should try to get the military to send us next, but I have realized it doesn’t matter where we go, but that we are together, which is one of the main reasons I didn’t stay in. Each base, small or big, in the middle of nowhere or in a big city all have things you can learn and see. I have made friends and seen so much at each assignment.

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

One of my friends who served with me in Afghanistan got out a few years before me. Her husband was also in the military so she was similar to me. I feel like she paved the way and gave me the confidence to actually get out. I have enjoyed talking to her now that we are both moms and have gone through so many similar experiences.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

When I was deployed to Afghanistan I got a mid-tour break and my husband decided to meet me in New Zealand instead of having me go back stateside. It was an amazing vacation and one I hope we can do again with the boys when they are older.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? I don’t watch a lot of tv, but I do currently like Scorpion and I used to watch Agents of Shield until it got a little weird.
  • What’s your favorite hobby? I love to run. I have run a handful of half marathons the past few years. I’m planning on doing three in 2017. I completed the first one in January at Disneyland.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate for sure!!
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. Man, I used up all my go to facts in the interview. I normally say I was in the military. But I guess I will go with the fact I have been converted to a crazy Disney person since we moved to LA. Last month we went every weekend so we could get special buttons. Only crazy people do that and I am one of them.

Many thanks to Amanda for sharing her story! People often forget that you can be a military spouse and a member of the military at the same time.  I’m glad folks like Amanda are sharing their stories. You can find Amanda on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Military

Dear New Military Spouse

May 25, 2017

Dear new military spouse,

First off, welcome to the club! You are now part of a diverse group of men and women from all different walks of life who do amazing things every day. Second, how are you feeling? Maybe a little overwhelmed? Excited? Scared? Flat out confused? All of that is 100% normal and something most of us feel on a regular basis no matter how long we’ve been married to the military.

You’re going to hear a lot of ideas and opinions from seasoned military spouses about how to survive in this crazy world. It’s completely up to you to choose what you advice you take and what advice you leave behind. It may begin to get a little overwhelming so I won’t give you advice today. Instead I’ll share a few of my hopes for you in this new role.

My hope is that you will make the most of this life. There are sure to be some ups and downs, which is just about the only thing that is certain in military life. Because you never know what will be around the next bend (or in the next set of orders), I hope that you embrace each new situation, smile when it’s raining and say “I love you” often.

My hope is that you will support and encourage your fellow military spouses. The unique challenges of being a military spouse should bring us together and we should take every opportunity to build each other up. Be a champion for your neighbor, celebrate each other’s accomplishments and act as an advocate for military spouses’ education and employment opportunities.

My hope is that you will educate civilians about the military lifestyle. We all have a responsibility as military spouses to educate others, dispel myths and be solid ambassadors for our group. You can do that by remaining authentic to who you are and speaking up when you hear misinformation. People can’t understand this lifestyle if we don’t teach them about it.

Being a new military spouse can be scary, overwhelming and nerve wracking, but it can also be wonderful and so much fun if you allow it to be. Head into this new stage of life full of hope and be open to the world of possibilities stretching out in front of you.

What advice would you give a new military spouse?

Military

Military Spouse Myths (Plus The Real Story)

May 18, 2017
Military Spouse Myths

People are fascinated with the military lifestyle. And who could blame them? Thanks to Hollywood, it appears very glamorous and dramatic: spouses fighting, tearful reunions and more scandal than a TV show on ABC. But so much of what you see on TV or in movies is dramatized and exaggerated to the point that it’s not even close to accurate.  Unfortunately, the public’s idea of the military spouse lifestyle comes from these dramatizations and military spouse myths become so deeply ingrained, they seem like fact.

As a military spouse, I firmly believe that it’s in our best interest to tell people the truth behind military spouse myths. Only when people know the truth can they begin to support and help military spouses in the way they need it the most.

Military Spouse Myths

Myth: We were all young when we got married.

Real story: Yes, some of us do get married at comparatively young ages (i.e. right after high school), but that is not the case for all of us. For example, I was 25 when I married my husband, certainly not a kid anymore. Some of us don’t become military spouses until much later in life, think 40s or 50s.

Myth: We’re all female.

Real story: No. Just no. There may have been a time when this was true, but it’s not anymore. There are some kick butt military husbands now and they deserve far more credit.  Now more than ever there is greater diversity in the military spouse community and we need to celebrate it!

Myth: We don’t work.

Real story: I will admit that there may be a nugget of truth to this one, but not in the way you likely think. First of all, the work done at home counts as work, especially when you’re doing it all solo. We do not sit around and eat chocolate all day. But military spouses do face some major challenges when it comes to working.

According to the 2016 Blue Star Families Survey, 48% of military spouses are employed. But because of frequent moves, solo parenting and our spouses’ work schedules, we are often underemployed or go through long periods of unemployment.  Think about it: how easy would it be for you to find a good job with benefits that fits your skill level, education, experience and pay requirements when everyone knows you will likely have to quit within 2-3 years? Not too easy.

Myth: We knew what we were getting into.

Real story: Find me a military spouse who tells you that things worked out exactly as he/she originally planned and I will show you a unicorn made of cotton candy. The only thing you can be sure of with the military is that things are going to be unpredictable.

I don’t think any of us (military or civilian) go into anything, let alone a marriage, knowing 100% what will happen every step of the way. Why would a military marriage be any different? Did I have a general idea of what life would be like before I said “I do”? Yes. But did I know that my husband would be gone for more than half of our first two years of marriage and how hard that would be? No, I did not.

Myth: We always agree with our spouse’s boss.

Real story: Do you know who my husband’s boss is technically? The President of the United States. Do you know who I don’t always agree with? The President of the United States. The military community in general gets painted with a very conservative brush, as in that’s the way we all vote. That is decidedly untrue.

And it’s not just our current President. Anytime someone makes a decision that puts my husband’s life at risk, you can bet your bippy that I’m going to have issue with it.

Myth: We get to spend a ton of time with our spouse he/she is home from deployment.

Real story: Ha! My husband came home from his last deployment on a Saturday. I was back in the office on the following Monday and so was he.  Work does not stop when deployment is over. We both put in 40+ hour weeks even before you take into account trainings or travel.

Myth: We are constantly pregnant and have at least four kids.

Real story: Oh for heavens sake. No. So many of us don’t want children or want children, but can’t have children. Of all the military spouse myths, this is the one that bugs me the most.  Personally, raising a child in my husband’s current job climate scares the beejesus out of me.  And remember that whole “gone more than half the time we’ve been married” thing from earlier? Not all of us are constantly pregnant or even want to be pregnant.

We can thank the entertainment industry for a lot of the most common military spouse myths. But each military spouse can do his/her part in making sure folks learn the real story.  What’s the craziest military spouse myth you’ve come across and how did you set the record straight?

Military

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

May 12, 2017
Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day to my fellow ladies and gents holding down the home front! Being a military spouse can often be a thankless job, but today is the day that the service of all of these silent heroes is recognized.

Military spouses go beyond stereotypes: we’re men and women of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. We’re business owners, college and graduate school grads, marathon runners, musicians, artists, parents, superheroes.  We learn how to fold uniforms, how to make the most of a flat rate box, how to do things solo and that sometimes we have to come second to the military.

Being a military spouse is the craziest rollercoaster you could ever imagine riding. You get the highest of highs when your spouse comes home and you get to act like newlyweds again, followed by the lowest of lows the next time a deployment rolls around. There are a lot of sleepless nights, tearful goodbyes and lonely times.

But more than anything else, there is so much love and pride. I am so proud of my husband’s decision to give of himself so selflessly to people he doesn’t even know. I am proud of all the good things he does for the country and that I get to support him in some small way. I love finding ways to make the most of the time we have together. More than anything else, I love my sailor and would not trade our life together for anything in the world.

There are many ways to support military spouses, but don’t discount the power of saying “thank you”. Say thank you for our many days, nights and holidays spent alone.  Say thank you for every time a pen left in a uniform pocket has ruined a load of laundry. Say thank you for every time we’ve said goodbye to our spouse and watched them walk away, taking a little piece of our heart with them.

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day to the amazing men and women who I get to call my fellow military spouses. You all rock and I consider myself very lucky to be among your ranks!