In this post you'll hear a little bit about my personal experience about joining the military spouse community and hopefully find some solace in your journey to become one as well.
The connotation of military spouse is one often associated with negativity or privilege. I know when I got to my first base that's the notion I had built up in my head and I instantly wanted nothing to do with it. I wanted to work, take care of my family, and not be associated with the title entitled military spouse whatsoever. Oh, they do exist. They exist out of boredom, idleness, and loss of identity. If you let it define you as so or fail to look past the stereotype then you will fit snug as bug into that category. Don't let it do that. Be in control. But don't be delusional, you go through things other spouses will never experience, in a way you are entitled (just not the snobby way ;) ). Don't abuse the title. This military life is a big part of you now. You sacrificed, started over, rinsed and repeated. Allow me to show you.
The military spouse gig takes a little getting used to but you'll get it in no time. You have to quit your job, uproot your home, your whole life, and it's not easy, but you got this. From a teacher's perspective, and from someone who spent thousands of dollars out of pocket for their education, working graveyard shifts and 3 jobs at a time, and never taking a summer off, the following may sting a bit: some states don't count your years teaching if it's less than a certain amount, so be prepared to start from the bottom. Your certification may not transfer and you'll have to take the test all over. It's going to be a little bumpy at first, and of course you have the right to be upset that the $700 dollars worth of tests and certifications and years of teaching don't count for anything, but just keep pushing, don't let that feeling control you. Life has changed forever but how you allow the change to affect you will dictate what kind of military spouse you'll become.
I had to tell my kindergartners who moved up with me to first grade that I was moving in the middle of the year and explain why. I think apart from leaving my family, that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to. Their belief in me to guide them and teach them was a feeling like no other. It didn't help when they wrapped them selves around my desk on the last day of kindergarten, made me cry (that was before we knew I'd be their first grade teacher the next year), and made me realize how much I truly loved teaching. I would do it over when I left our last assignment and I'll keep doing it until I retire. The best part about all that was I made/ and continue to make the best connections with my students because of our short time together.
After that difficult parting and leaving my hometown and state that hugged me with it's warm rays of sunshine I was on the road with a suitcase, my hedgehog, my husband in the car in front of me, and no idea what was ahead. As I saw the Oklahoma sign my heart sank because in that moment I realized this was really happening; the tears started and wouldn't stop. You'd think a thousand miles of driving would have given me some indication, but the road trip was so much fun I barely realized we were gone for good!
The New Place
I lived out of a hotel for a couple weeks...little did I know that hotel living would be a normalcy for military life. It's pretty nice getting to live out of a hotel, it kind of feels like a vacation...the first couple times. Then you have 2 huge dogs and are living out of a suitcase and just want your own kitchen and backyard back. So you take this hotel living as an opportunity to discover the area around you. After we got into our house and set up an air mattress in our living room (because our home goods were delivered a month late) I got to exploring good old Enid, OK. I found every antique shop, coffee shop, transferred my certification, applied for a teaching job, got a call 15 minutes later (woohoo!), visited their historic downtown area, and started to meet the locals. It was all going to be okay. You're going to be okay ;)
Now I started thinking, how do I make a doctors appointment with this new insurance, how do I get to know other spouses, do I need to switch my state tags (the answer is no, only if you want to do so ;) ), is there a Facebook group I should join, what am I allowed to say on Facebook ...where...do...I...start?! Okay, let me tell you!
First of all, for spouse groups, if you're in the Air Force, the squadron your husband is assigned to will be the spouse group you'll want to look for. Sometimes they find you, but sometimes you need to reach out and find them. The FB group will most likely be set to private and you'll have to search for it and confirm your affiliation. This is one of the greatest resources because it allows you to connect with spouses who are new like you or have been at that base for a while and can help you with whatever questions you may have. You should have a group of key-spouses that are trained to help you with whatever comes your way. Being a key-spouse was one of the best choices I made. I love to help others because I too was once in their shoes and I want to see them succeed and thrive in this new life. Your key-spouses attend quarterly trainings and are always up to date on the latest resources. Find them, talk to them, and use them! They're there for you!
Oh, and here's a really good resource (Guidelines) for what you should/ shouldn't do/say online now that you are part of the military life. At first I thought, "I must take down every picture of our faces and no one can no where we are!". Seriously! I freaked out! It's not like that y'all. The military life is something to be proud of and you want to share this part of your life, as you should. Just be smart and basically the less info the better.
Adulting with TriCare
One of the best benefits of being a military spouse is your insurance. At first it's so confusing! Fear not, though, it's actually really simple. At one of my briefs our group gathered some really great FAQ's, take a look at it, because it is super helpful! Also, attend those briefs if you can! Click Me (thank you Sara for putting this together ;) ) I'm not going to lie, sometimes dealing with Tri-Care and your constantly changing on-base physicians can feel a lot like jumping through hoops, because it is! You have to ask for what you want. When you go to the clinic you need to know what you need done and ask for it specifically. You are your own advocate now more than ever when it comes to your health. I want to emphasize that only the very basics are covered at your clinic. You may be used to looking up your own doctors and specialists but now you'll need to get a referral through the clinic, or risk paying 100% out of pocket (thanks Mel for reminding of all this ;) ). Just be patient, because it's not always that difficult.
Adjustment doesn't happen overnight. You don't have to find a job, make friends, and jump onto the social scene right away. Take your time. Absorb this new life, get your air mattress out of your living room first, then jump in!
Do you have an experience you'd like to share about your military spouse journey ? Any advice for our readers? Questions about something you're experiencing that I didn't cover? Please leave a comment below ! Knowledge is power and I'd love to hear from you ❤️
Thank you for reading!
P.S. In next week's post: We'll focus on beauty and my favorite products I've been using for years as well as some newfound products!