I have been around the military as a girlfriend and spouse for over 16 years. When I was younger, I was blissfully ignorant about military spouse life and available resources. However, there are abundant resources available if we know where to look. So, let’s take a look at what new spouses need and how to find assistance.
I reached out to several new spouses across various service branches, including the Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Army. All had been military spouses for less than two years and had faced at least one deployment.
If Only We Had Known
Hindsight is 20/20. Many spouses do not fully understand what they are signing up for when marrying into the military. So, what information is beneficial to know before becoming a military spouse? The spouses I spoke with had the following advice.
Prepare yourself for not knowing a lot about what your military member’s day-to-day work entails. Expect things to change regularly and be ready to hurry up and wait. Military life is a real-life roller coaster. If you have any questions, ask. Your spouse does not have all of the answers, and plenty of information gets lost in translation.
Likewise, I asked what information would be helpful to know before facing your first deployment as a couple? Existing spouses had many words of wisdom to share.
It is critical to know who to turn to for help during the deployment. Having a “key spouse” is terrific. However, you need to know how and when to contact them. Set low expectations for email communication as it can be slow and infrequent. Be ready for port calls during deployments to be costly and budget accordingly. Ensure you and your family get life tasks situated before deployment. Become familiar with your household finances and what you need to do when your spouse is gone. Know who you can call for help and in case of an emergency.
Military Spouse Resources
We owe it to ourselves to be aware of the vault of assets that exist to help us on this crazy journey. Check with your base to see if they offer new spouse orientation programs. There are specific resources dedicated to military spouses regarding childcare, employment, tuition assistance, mentoring, entrepreneurship, discounts, mental health, support groups, legal aid, financial planning, wellness, fitness, and more.
Are you aware of how many publications exist for military spouses? There are countless print and digital magazines, blogs, and social media outlets to address our needs, concerns, and current events. Here is a list of a few to get you started on the path to success.
- NextGen MilSpouse
- Army Wife 101
- Retail Salute
- Military Families Magazine
- Military Spouse Magazine
- Military.com Spouse and Family
- We Are The Mighty – Military Spouse
- Legacy Magazine
- The Military Wife and Mom
There is a vast array of spouse-centered social media at our fingertips. Each branch of the service, including the National Guard, has a spouse Facebook group, Instagram account, or a few to follow. You will find base-specific and general pages for wives, girlfriends, and significant others.
Do you know how many organizations are available to help military spouses and families? The list below is an excellent starting point for learning the ABCs of spouse life.
- Blue Star Families
- Hiring Our Heroes
- Military Spouse Employment Partnership
- Hire Heroes USA
- Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs
- American Corporate Partners Active Duty Spouse Program
- Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program
- Military Spouse Advocacy Network
- Military One Source
Never underestimate the power of networking and communicating with other spouses. Seek to find a mentor who is willing to share knowledge, resources, and information with you. In return, please pay it forward, and do the same for someone else. Here are a few recommendations from new spouses on tackling military life.
Be sure to follow your local base spouse groups on social media to gain knowledge, meet people, make friends, and find comfort in one another. It is essential to recognize you have an entire community around you going through exactly what you are. Utilize tuition assistance and other resources to further your education and improve your career opportunities. Ask for and use welcome packets when you are new to a location. Finally, support groups can provide much positive reinforcement and understanding.
Being a military spouse doesn’t have to be isolating. Many others are willing to help who have walked in our shoes. Let’s seek to find and utilize resources to make our lives easier. In doing so, we will improve our quality of life, our military members’ mission-readiness, and our overall satisfaction with the military lifestyle.
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