I’ve been a “new” military wife twice in my life. Once at 19 when my husband was a Marine and stationed in Southern California, and the other when he joined the Army last March.
Both held very different experiences for me. I’ve learned significantly more about stateside military life as an Army wife than I did as a Marine wife, but on the flip side I learned more about separation and war as a Marine wife.
There are quite a few things I wish I’d know before each, and pass on to new military wives now:
- Your life is now also dictated by the military. It really is – your moves, your husband’s pay and raises, his work hours, often your vacations – all up to the military. If he’s off on a 4 day weekend and someone needs a replacement for a 24 hour duty, your husband goes in. If you live on base, you can be subject to housing inspections and are expected to follow community rules.
- Your time at a station is what you make of it. You may get to move to the post you want – or you may get the one you dreaded (ahem – us). But regardless – you’re there. Probably for a while. So make do; find a women’s group, buy memberships to the local zoo and museums, get out and enjoy the area. It’s not permanent and hating it only makes it that much longer. Trust me.
- Remember that the humdrum of daily life can be over quickly. One day you might be thinking, “Every day is the same,” and that night your husband tells you he’s deploying in 3 weeks. It’s happened to us. Life changes quickly in the military, so enjoy the routine you get into while it’s there.
- Find out what the terms your husband is using on a daily basis mean. Things like hatch, cover, and PX took quite a while for me to learn. Also, if your husband is as in to AR’s as mine is (Army regulations) become at least familiar with a few of his favorites to use. You’ll be able to have a conversation a lot easier if you know what on earth everyone is talking about.
- Your actions reflect on your spouse. Just because you’re not in the military doesn’t mean what you do doesn’t affect your husband. Chewing out his officers or being catty to other wives is hard on him at work. Be courteous and professional around his soldiers and staff.
- Your ID card is really important. Really. Because you won’t realize it until you lose it that everything you need to do on base requires an ID. From grocery shopping to even getting in the gate on some. It’s a pain to get a new one.
- Military benefits are pretty darn good. The first kind of insurance I had on my own was Tricare. So imagine my shock when Sam got out of the Marines and we had to pay for our insurance through his new job – and had things like $3,000 deductibles, co-pays, and bills. I was never so glad to see our military insurance again as when it kicked in last year after he joined the Army. There might be some drawbacks to it – but I found many, many more with civilian insurance.
Are you a new military wife? What do you want to know about? Any of you “veteran” wives want to chime in?