I’m Not My Momma’s MilSpouse and Neither Are You

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As a military brat-turned-writer, I’ve shared lessons learned from my childhood and also my new found respect for my mother as a military spouse herself.

Well, it doesn’t stop there. My grandmother was also a military spouse. Yes, I’m a third generation military spouse–and to be honest, I didn’t have the intent to become one! In fact, it was because of what my grandmother and mother experienced as military spouses that I was terrified of what the lifestyle could bring to me and I wrote it off completely.

The military always dictated or influenced my family’s decisions growing up. I was ready to break away permanently…or so I thought!

When I reached dating age, I went for the rebel dudes with long hair that were so not military-like. I was adamant about putting the lifestyle behind me and exploring the world on my own AND on my own terms.

In an ironic twist of fate, a handsome young soldier came into my life like a ton of bricks in the best way possible. As the story goes, I fell in love and had to be with him…military and all.

Then, reality set in (cue the dramatic music) and I remembered the challenges that the 2 most influential women in my life faced.

  • As an Army wife would I lose my identity?
  • How many sacrifices will I have to face as a military spouse?

The detail that resonated with me the most about my mother’s military spouse experience was her struggle with maintaining a career. When my parents met, she was making a great living as a musician. My mother went through college with a music scholarship and can play the violin and guitar. Aside from her talent in music, she studied accounting and finance, so ultimately that’s the field she wanted to break into once she was done with music.

Once they got married, it took my mom almost 10 years to secure a position in the field of her preference. We moved around too much for her to showcase her skills or she was too afraid to step out of her comfort zone. It wasn’t that other military spouses wouldn’t understand. On the contrary, it was because they didn’t think it was possible and they had ZERO resources for military spouse employment at that time.

My mother’s amazing tenacity lead her to her dream job. But, what happened to those that really didn’t have the help, guidance or tenacity?

pin not your momma milspouse

Fast forward to today, there are a serious amount of amazing resources out there for military spouses. Think: In Gear Career. Think: MyCAA Think: Military Spouse Preference Program. Think: My SECO. To boot, there are a serious amount of military spouses (National Military Family Association, SpouseBuzz, Military Spouse magazine, Military One Source, and every instillation’s spouse Facebook group) out there to help each other armed with all those resources!

Not Your Momma’s MilSpouse Fact: 93% of active duty spouses are female.

Military spouses have always been there for each other. From duty station to duty station, the military families we interacted with were the best. Truly, they were extensions of our family. My grandma is even still apart of the military community going to church on base and my parents have to make their monthly visit. Despite the trials and tribulations the military brought to your life, it also brought togetherness.

Luckily for this milspouse generation, there is still a strong sense of community. Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard seasoned spouses say that the military spouse dynamic is changing. As an observer from generation to generation, I see a big difference. It’s happening and things are real.

Military spouses are in the workforce, kickin’ butt and takin’ names.

For starters, there are more working spouses. I think it’s becoming easier for military spouses to enter the workplace as more and more women as a whole are following suit.

The Internet is a HUGE help in keeping connections and also allowing the ability to work from wherever the heck you want. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without it!

Not Your Momma’s MilSpouse Fact: 40% of military spouses are employed. 12% of military spouses are service members

There is still a struggle for military spouse employment. According to the 2014 Blue Star Families military lifestyle survey, 43% of military spouses find that military spouse employment is an issue. The amazing thing out of this though is we have a voice, which is refreshing. So, don’t stop voicing your opinion and let’s keep working to stomp out the employment issue.

Military spouses are a diverse bunch.

Although, there are still things that are frowned upon like complaining to your spouse’s command for days away, the identity crisis issue has subdued a whole lot. My mom used to tell me that their first year was the roughest part of their marriage. That was mainly due to the complete and drastic life change coupled with living in a foreign country. She couldn’t easily connect with the friends she left when she got married let alone when they moved from one duty station to another, the best way to maintain communications was through long distance phone calls or snail mail and this was in the 80s and 90s!

As a result, she felt like she lost herself a bit with getting used to everything that being an Air Force wife brought. It was easy to have your husband’s job be at the forefront of conversations. At least for my mom, she spent a lot of time trying to figure out where she fit into the equation.

Not Your Momma’s MilSpouse Fact: There are nearly 187,000 male military spouses around the world according to DoD.

Today, military spouses can easily remain connected at all times without needing a long distance phone call. We can just hop on our computers or smart phones to video chat. Because I’m able to maintain and connect with the life I had before the military came back into myself, I don’t associate with my husband’s job a lot. I write about being a military spouse, but I talk about me and my experiences–and to tell you the truth, what my husband does isn’t that interesting anyway.

Now, I’m so proud to be among the ranks of military spouses as we continue to push the envelope everyday! From my grandma’s generation to today, the changes may seem small, but all in all these changes are making a huge difference in our lifestyle.

What changes have you experienced in your tenure as a milspouse?

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