To say that being a military spouse is challenging is putting it mildly.
I experienced first-hand the trials of having a family member in the service when my older sister was in the Army for over 10 years. From that experience, I vowed I would never enter into a relationship with anyone affiliated with the armed services.
That was until December 2010 when I married the man of my dreams, who also happened to be an active-duty 10-year veteran of the Army.
Going into the marriage, I knew there were things I’d have to become accustomed to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was in for much more than I bargained for.
Within the first six months of our marriage, we experienced a move halfway across the country, the birth of our first child and a deployment, which prompted a second move back to the East Coast. Needless to say, our first year as husband and wife was facilitated by Skype and email.
Let’s face it, in a short period of time I had already become a veteran of Army life. In the first few months after returning to Fort Hood, I fought the ways of the establishment, thinking I could create my own rules of engagement.
Eventually, I had to concede and accept the fact that for the next decade almost every aspect of life will be influenced by Uncle Sam. Fort Hood became our first duty station, and as a self-proclaimed “Jersey Girl” I found the transition very difficult. Not only was I in a new place, but I was more than a thousand miles away from everyone I knew and loved.
One of the hardest parts of the adjustment came in May when the weather began to change and I noticed a considerable rise in the heat index. I knew I was in for trouble when I nearly passed out during a family fun day at Belton Lake and it wasn’t even summer yet.
I also struggled with finding ways to compete with my husband’s demanding work schedule. We both agreed that I would postpone working for at least the first year of our son’s life. So during that year, 90 percent of my time was spent alone at home raising our son and fulfilling my wifely duties. So the question was, how do I occupy my time while my husband is gone?
“Well,” I said. “Why not check out some of the activities on post?”
Surprisingly, I discovered a vast amount of resources at Fort Hood dedicated specifically to spouses. Slowly but surely I integrated myself into the military world. I began to form friendships with other wives and got involved in some of the activities and organizations on post.
What made my transition complete, however, was stepping back into the workforce. Doing so allowed me to cement a life for myself outside of the military.
If I could impart any wisdom on new Army wives, it would be this: in time it does get better. As a military spouse, we must learn to embrace rather than reject the role we assumed. And in the end, the benefits of choosing to serve one’s country, which ultimately is what a military spouse does, are immeasurable.