My husband joined the military back in 2005. These were heavy Iraq and Afghanistan days. Deployments were long and the breaks between were way too short. This was my intro to military life, and the years following shaped me into who I am today.
I was also a SAHM. Choosing to be home vs working on my career, at least for the first few years. We were stationed in Germany and at the time, I just wanted to be home with my boys. However, it was in that environment where I gave birth to this blog, which has led me to my career as a freelance writer.
This type of job fits in easily with military life. We no longer move, but if we did, if we had to be stationed somewhere else, I could take my career with me, as many of my active duty spouse friends do. So many spouses have made their careers work through military life, working on their own dreams within the crazy that this life brings.
During my early years as a military spouse, I was surrounded by the military pretty much 24/7. I depended on them for everything it seemed. From the schools my son went to, to where I bought groceries, to where I got my mail. We lived and breathed it.
There were FRG meetings, and balls to attend, and military events. So many of the spouses I met along the way were SAHMs or those who worked part-time. This fits in well with the military culture which seems to assume that if a service member is married, their spouse is at home, tending to everything they can’t.
But times change. People change. And I am not sure as many military spouses are choosing to stay home. I am not sure as many military spouses want to give up a career for their service member. If their spouse wants to join the military, they expect to be able to keep their own career path, and I don’t think that is asking too much.
The military needs to figure out how to embrace the modern military spouse. Yes, some spouses will still want to be stay-at-home parents, and that is totally fine, but if a spouse chooses not to be, can their service member still serve? Will they just walk away?
What about the FRG? Run by so many volunteers. How will that structure change with the needs of the modern military? What can be done to take that burden off of the military spouse volunteer and still provide the services that military communities need?
Will the military put money behind any of this? Will they care or just assume that things will always stay the same? Will they just assume that even within the modern military there are enough military spouses to fill in those gaps?
Age is another factor. More people are waiting longer to get married. How does this impact the military community? How will this shape the future of military culture?
I am not sure what needs to be done but taking the spouse’s career path in mind is important. Maybe making the norm of being at one duty station 5 years instead of 3 would be a great start? That would allow the spouse to put down some roots, at least for a time. I just have to believe there is more that can be done.
I know I am not the only one who has thought about the future of the military and the military spouse. There is a lot that needs to be done. There is a lot that needs to change. But the question is, with those who have the power to change things work to do so?
What do you think needs to be changed about the military in general to reflect a more modern military culture???