Military spouses are a strong group of individuals. Though being the spouse of a service member is not an easy job, most of these spouses have proven to be highly adaptive and have acclimated to and navigated through their many obstacles beautifully and virtually on their own. Still, military life is difficult and much different than that of the civilian world. Every day worries consist of things that most people could not fathom. Often this life can be daunting. As adaptive as military spouses may be on their own, it is much easier to learn the ropes and to cope when you have the support and knowledge of someone who has been in your shoes. For many military spouses, it is sometimes difficult to find a good support group, especially when they move to a new area or when their spouse is Reserve. Well, unsurprisingly, they found a solution for this.They discovered blogging.
Military spouses have taken the blogosphere by storm and are now using it as a platform to connect, share, cope, and tell the world their stories that previously often went unheard. Blogs like SpouseBuzz, a well-known blog owned by Military.com, are large and combine the voices of many military spouses in one place to write about news, personal experiences, and advice from many points of view. The most typical mil-spouse blog, however, is smaller and personally owned. These have become extremely popular with spouses in the last five years.
For many, blogging has not only helped them in coping with their own lives, but has helped others as they search for advice on similar experiences or are simply in search of someone to relate to. This sharing of information has quickly created a close-knit and fast growing community of military spouse bloggers whom many of them refer to as their family. As the community grows, so are the opportunities available to them. They are now able to network on sites like Milblogging.com, meet in person at yearly conferences such as the Milblog Conference which holds an annual award for best military spouse blog among others, and support each other through Facebook groups and local meet-ups.
Kris, a Military spouse and blogger, has been married to her husband, who is in the Army National Guard, for 10 ½ years. After he deployed in March of 2011, she began searching the internet for resources to get her through the deployment. She wound up stumbling across many mil-spouse blogs, which prompted her to start her own in which she entitled The New “Normal”. In her words,
“…it quickly became an outlet for me during this difficult time and I found the support network I so badly needed through the other amazing bloggers that I met.”
Because Kris’s husband is in the National Guard, they are located in a civilian community far from the other families in his unit. This often leaves her feeling very isolated, a struggle that many National Guard and other Reserve families have in common. With the mil-spouse blogging community, her and other families are now able to get the support they need.
“Connecting with other spouses through our blogs helped me to feel a part of the military community in a way that I had not experienced before,” she said,”My blog gave me an outlet for my feelings, and through the connections with the other spouses, I realized that how I felt was normal.”
Kris plans to attend the MilBlogging Conference, held in Washington DC this weekend, for the first time this year. She’s excited to personally meet the friends she describes as, “…closer friends than my ‘real life’ friends.”
Many military spouses use their blogs as a way to document deployments and the every day events of typical military life like Kris. But in many cases, these blogs become even more. Kristle Helmuth and Mary Lucas are perfect examples.
Kristle Helmuth began writing her blog, Forget the Dog Not the Baby, in 2008 after her husband of seven years was involved in multiple IED blasts where he incurred PTSD, TBI, and severe lung damage from inhalation of chlorine gas. Overnight, this event changed her role from military wife to military caregiver. She began blogging later in his injury as a way to cope and document her experience as a young military caregiver.
“I began writing when I was at a time in my life where we were either going to make this new life work, or we were not going to work out”, she said,”I needed somewhere to put the frustration, anger, and confusion that had seemingly taken over my life.”
She says that PTSD and TBI have essentially become their life and often writes her way through the obstacles that come with that life in her blog. Through her writing, she has received a ton of needed support that she otherwise may not have gotten. She goes on to say,
“It was the ear to listen when I had no one else, and a non-judgmental place I could just spill my guts. Now it has turned into a way for me to give back, to share the stories that are making up my life, and offer hope to others in the same way that it was offered to me.”
Kristle continues to use her blog as a way to cope and a way to help others. She remains candid and honest about her experiences in hopes that awareness will be spread of the struggles facing families in similar situations. She will be speaking on a panel at the MilBlog Conference this weekend, one of the many opportunities that her blog has presented her.
Mary Lucas’ story is tragic. On August 1, 2011, she received news that her husband, a United States Marine, was killed in Afghanistan by a grenade that hit two feet away from him. Mary has been blogging for five years, but says she only became serious about it months before her husband passed when she found out she was pregnant with their third son. At that time, the blog was primarily a “mom blog” in which she used to educate women on doing natural birth. Upon news of her husband’s death, it quickly became a place for her to document her grief while still carrying their unborn child. Her blog is now a tool in which she can process her grief and cope with the new life that has been handed to her.
“Blogging has been such an amazing tool for me to get my feelings and thoughts out”, she says, “ I am not a ‘good griever’ which means I don’t cry and/or show my feelings well in front of other people. Sharing what I feel with other people, including my loved ones, is easiest for me when I am writing.”
Like the others, Mary hopes to help other widows through her words and spread awareness about her version of military life. Her blog is called, Building Our New Normal.
After speaking to these inspirational women, it is apparent that blogs have become a strong platform for giving military spouses a voice, providing a free therapist (something we could all use from time to time), and bringing them together as a family. The benefits over time have exceeded all of their expectations as they enjoy new opportunities in friendship and in life that they would never have gotten if it weren’t for their blogs. After asking each of them if they would recommend other military spouses to blog, they all agreed with a hearty “Yes!”
Military Spouse Blogs To Check Out:
To find more military spouse blogs, visit Milblogging.com.