What to Expect When You Are A Military Spouse
Each of us is on our own journey as a military spouse but at the same time, we all experience a lot of similar events and feelings to go with them. Although this “cycle” is not true for every military spouse out there, it is true for a lot of us. When you know what to expect during your time as a military spouse, the easier things are going to be.
Your Duty Station
As a new military spouse, your first introduction to military life is arriving at your first duty station. This could mean getting packed up after basic training and moving to your new home with your spouse or it could mean moving on post after your wedding even though you have lived in that area for a while. This could also mean having access to the post but living in an apartment or house off post. This will be the first time you see military life in action. You will start to understand how things work. You will learn about the Commissary, the PX, MWR, where the parks are, where your spouse will work and anything else to do being around the military. You will learn a lot at your first duty station. Everything will be new but you will figure things out.
Sometimes you will have a few months, others will have a few years but eventually, you will hear news of a deployment or other type of training your spouse will have to go to. For us, this happened right after we arrived at our first duty station. He deployed about five months later. It’s difficult to hear the news that your spouse is going to have to deploy. Preparing for the deployment is very emotional. Then you have to say goodbye and work hard to get through each and every day. You want to stay busy but you will still have that deployment ache, no matter how busy you are.
Whether they are gone for just two months or for over a year, homecoming is going to be a great day. You will spend time getting ready, you will get butterflies, you will get nervous, you will feel the sweet relief that only comes knowing they are no longer in a war zone. The time after deployment can be tricky but homecoming is the end of the separation and something to be celebrated.
After they get home there will be a period of time where you try to get back to “normal” life. You will work hard to get through the reintegration period. This period can be very difficult for some couples and it is important to find help if you need it. The military does offer some help right after they get home but make sure to ask for more if you and your spouse need it. There should be no shame in that. “Normal” life won’t look the way it did before. You have changed and so has he. It will never be like it was before the deployment. You will be changed.
Time to PCS
Unless you stay at the same duty station for longer than 2-3 years you will probably end up pcsing before he would deploy again. This time, you might move overseas or to the other side of the country. Maybe you will be closer to home or going to a part of the country you have anyways wanted to explore. Be excited! Look forward to where you are going. You will have to wait for orders and then they might get changed. You might think you are headed to Germany, you will plot out all the day trips you are going to take once you get there and then the orders will get changed to Florida and you won’t know what is going on. Plans change, especially when it comes to PCSing. You have to just go with it and be patient. Hurry up and wait.
Bye to Friends
With every PCS comes having to say goodbye to your friends. Those people who stood by you during the deployment, your neighbors, your children’s friends. It’s hard to say goodbye. And if you are not the one pcsing at the moment, your friends will be the ones to move. Military life is a never ending cycle of meeting new people and then having to say goodbye after a time. You never get used to doing this, you just find ways to make things a little easier on yourself when it does happen and you find ways to stay in touch when you are no longer living in the same place.
You are now at a new duty station and the process will start all over again. Only this time, when deployment orders come, you will know a little bit more about what to expect. You might have another child this time. You will be more seasoned and you will be able to offer advice to others. Right before our first deployment I was talking with my FRG leader and she explained a lot of what things would be like. At the time I had no idea. Now, ten years later I know a lot more then I did back then.
Military life is an adventure. Sometimes it is good and exciting, others times it disappoints and you are not sure how you are going to get through the next few months. Remember, things change. People change. Life changes. Where you are today will not be where you are next year or the year after. Make friends and work with your husband to get through any issues you are dealing with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be you as you navigate your military spouse journey.