Fewer PCSes In Our Future? DoD Says ‘Maybe’

by Chloe Moore , Guest Contributor

Ask a military spouse to list the top 3 distinct challenges faced in their military life and you can bet most of them are going to say PCSing. The constant relocation can do a serious number on a family’s ability to thrive.

This makes PCS news from the Pentagon eyebrow-raising: they’re considering limiting the amount of moves that a military family has to make.

Fewer PCSes In Our Future? DoD Says 'Maybe'

In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness John Wilkie said that while “nothing is set in stone” (Is it ever?) it is “more than idle chatter.”

The idea is that large military installations, like Fort Bragg and Naval Station Norfolk, have the capacity to support military families for extended tours that stretch beyond the typical 2 or 3 years. Extended tours would ultimately allow troops and their families to enjoy fewer relocations and the associated challenges of those moves.

Today’s Military Family Is Changing The Department Of Defense’s Systems

At the core of the shift lies the military family. In Wilkie’s overview of why the challenge is being taken seriously, he returned repeatedly to the modern military family.

According to him, “It (the PCS system) was built at a time when less than 10 percent of the military had families. Today, 70 percent have families.”

So there’s that; there’s the fact that the family unit is a foundational part of the military like it has never before been in American history, and that families oftentimes suffer because of the manner in which the PCS system operates. Not only that, but we’re operating within a volunteer service model, which means that at this point the government has to acknowledge that if needs aren’t met, their volunteers will dry up.

Drew Brooks, the military editor for the Fayetteville Observer, wrote

“While many in the Pentagon are focused on big dollar programs that lead to new ships and planes, Wilkie said the readiness of the military is one of the issues that keeps him up at night. He said new planes are worthless if there are no people to maintain or fly them.”

At the very least, it’s refreshing to hear someone recognize that the driving force behind successful or unsuccessful military operations are its people.

The Potential Benefits Of Fewer PCSes

In terms of personal health, there are a plethora of positives. Most of us have felt at least a tinge of relocation depression as we’ve unpacked yet another round of boxes. Most of us know what it is to compare a new duty station with the well-loved one we’ve left behind. And more than that, we know what it is to have readjust relationally.

Professional Health: A few years ago a study came out that showcased the fact that a whopping 90% of military spouses are either underemployed or unemployed. Beyond the implications of that on a personal level, it’s been estimated the economy also misses out on nearly one billion dollars a year because of the trend.

There’s not a lot of upward mobility on the career ladder when frequent moves require you to constantly start over.

There are certainly employers who want to utilize military spouses. But, there are also those in military communities who recognize the trail of locations on a resume for what they are and become less likely to hire knowing that that individual is unlikely a long-term investment.

Do you want want a PCS proof career? Listen to the NGMS Happy Hour Episode 56!

Psychological Health: The PCS system can negatively impact the emotional and relational well-being of service members and their dependants in a vast amount of ways. It’s an overwhelming subject to tackle. In an overview of social work in conjunction with service members, the University of Nevada, Reno found that, “3.8 million veterans live with a service-connected disability.” For those 3.8 million who struggle with everything from PTSD to anxiety and depression, and for those still serving, by default they must consistently re-start with caregivers.

And, of course, beyond the service member, dependents suffer emotionally as well. While the research isn’t conclusive, there is some that points to the fact that military kids struggle to cope. When Healthline looked at a study that compared military kids with non-military kids, the military kids had “a higher prevalence of substance use, violence, harassment, and weapon-carrying than their nonmilitary peers.”

And a suspected core issue, up there with frequent deployments, is the reality of frequent relocations for kids who are typically less equipped than adults to cope with the upheaval of frequent moves.

It’s not difficult to see how fewer moves could potentially make things, even a smidgen easier for both the service member and the family that supports him or her.

Fewer Relocations Is Not A Brand New Proposition

There have been times when different government entities have suggested the same type of shift. Ultimately, while nothing substantial has shifted, it is still worthwhile to note that the problems military families see with the system are also seen among the very highest levels.

Fewer PCSes In Our Future? DoD Says 'Maybe'

In 2012, the Army went public with its efforts to limit PCSes. In an attempt to strategize for the increased stability and health of troops they came to an unsurprising conclusion: one of the most straightforward ways in which to secure a force that would be more consistent and effective was to make sure that those troops remained in one local for at least 36 months.

The Cost Of Frequent PCSes

In 2016, Zachariah Hughes wrote for NPR that

“Every year, the U.S. military moves hundreds of thousands of service members and their families all across the globe. In 2014, the Defense Department spent more than $4.3 billion on moving costs, but officials don’t know where all that money is going.”

This statement, depending on how long you’ve been a part of the military lifestyle, may or may not surprise you. The hope would be that in a world where the paychecks of those who serve at the most nitty-gritty level are threatened whenever there’s a budgetary issue, the money would be streamlined.

However, that’s not the case. When Brenda Farrell interviewed officials for a report she authored for the Government Accountability Office she ran into an interesting something: “When we asked the DOD officials during our review ‘When was the last time an evaluation was made of the PCS program,’ none of them could recall such an evaluation being done.”

For those among us who may be skeptical that the family health angle will really inspire change, there is perhaps a greater degree of hope when considering that the government knows that there is a financial incentive to move military families less often.

The Drawbacks Of Fewer Moves

Obviously, this would not fix any and all duty station grief. In fact, in some cases it would likely only make some struggles worse. The reality is that while we can all call to mind duty stations that we loved and hated leaving, and friends we still miss, we can all also remember those wherein the goodbyes couldn’t come quickly enough, and we really never looked back.

Because at the core of the issue stands the truth that moving frequently as a way of life is hard and to some degree that can’t be fixed. There will always just be places and people who fit into our lives easier than others.

However, it’s also true that if the Pentagon does decide to implement longer tours, for some of us, one of those sets of orders may come just when our family needs it most.

How would your military family benefit for fewer PCSes? Share your thoughts in the NextGen MilSpouse Facebook group

By day Chloe Moore writes content for an internet marketing company, and by night she freelances. She’s a parent and a Navy spouse who enjoys rereading “East of Eden” and rewatching “The Office” when the stars align and she has the time.

What You Need To Know About Military Base Housing

So you decided you want to live in military base housing, huh?

Now that you’ve made the choice to live on base, you need to follow the procedures to make this rental home a reality. Use the information below to make this transition as smooth as possible.

What You Need To Know About Military Base Housing

Source: Langley Family Housing

The Smart Military Spouse’s Guide to Military Base Housing

You searched for “housing” and your new duty station and found some answers online. You realized that most locations have privatized housing. This translates into on-post neighborhoods with newer houses and this management company – not the military – is responsible for the daily upkeep of the homes. Some of the companies even have photos and walk-through tours on their websites.

Be ready to fill out a form (or two). This is something the service member will be able to do once you have PCS orders. Within 30 days of arrival, a DD Form 1746 should be completed. This is the application for an assignment for housing. On some privatized housing websites, you can complete this form online. Military spouses will need a power of attorney if the service member is deployed.

You need a copy of your orders to your new location that shows your detachment dates. Your service member’s LES (Leave and Earnings Statement) will tell the housing office what type of house you qualify for. You also need certification of your dependents (if you have them).

Each service has a different form to complete this requirement but a DEERS enrollment card or RED (Record of Emergency Data) will also suffice. The last official document needed is the form disclosing sexual offender status. Again, check with your service branch for specific forms.

What You Need To Know About Military Base Housing

Now you are put on a waitlist. This list is dependent on pay grade. The size and location of your house also depends on how many dependents you have. Unfortunately, this step can last a few days or a few years depending on your military installation. Don’t get discouraged. We all know that the military works in mysterious ways.

There are other aspects to the wait list that you must understand. Your eligibility date is based on your orders. A newly married service member’s date is determined by your legal wedding day.

New to the military and to married life? Your date is what you find on your Military Entrance Processing Date.

Again, you may not know many of these forms but that’s where your spouse or his chain of command can help.

Time has passed and you finally get the call that a house is available for you! You jump for joy and then set out to see the house. The representative from the housing office meets you there and they walk you around and answer any questions you have.

You step into the entrance and you see that there is no furniture. All of the houses are unfurnished. Then you walk into the kitchen and see a full array of appliances. These all stay. What a relief! Now you don’t have the added expense of that! Washers and dryers may or may not come with the house, as this is dependent on the management company. As you move to the back of the house, you notice that some of the surrounding homes have fences and some do not. This is not unusual either. Without a fence, the included lawn service takes care of your whole yard.

What other amenities are included? Utilities in unmetered houses. Otherwise, you will retain part of your BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) to pay that expense. This is true for the garbage collection as well. And, the housing representative tells you your rent is based on the rank of your service member. This is all so eye-opening. You complete your inspection and the person from the housing office asks if you’d like to take the house.

You have a choice in military base housing? Yes, you do.

If you pass on the first house, you still maintain your position on the wait list. You would then have to take the second house that they showed you or you would go to the bottom of the list.

But wait! Before you make that decision, you need to know about their pet policy. The representative tells you that you can have 2 or 3 pets depending on the management company overseeing your location. You look at your spouse with a twinkle in your eye; you can get another pet and still be in code! There are some breed restrictions as well as exotic pet bans but you can check with your representative at the housing office for that.

You decide to accept the house. Enjoy the community and the ease of living on base. It is an experience like no other and you will make memories that will last long after you leave the service. Maybe you’ll encourage others to do the same. After all, you have all of this information at your fingertips.

I Feel Like I’m At A Theme Park With People From Around The World

by Rachel Tringali Marston, Guest Contributor

I’m going to be honest. When military orders dropped for South Korea, I was a little disappointed.

My spouse did an unaccompanied tour here already and I had been to South Korea when I was younger. I had a “been there done that” moment when we found out we were moving to South Korea.

Once the initial shock wore off, I realized that being in South Korea would open up several doors for new adventures with my husband.

One of the most important thoughts that came to my mind was the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Even before setting foot in country, I was determined to make it to PyeongChang!

My Experience At The 2018 Winter Olympics

When we rang in the New Year, I started getting the ball rolling for our trip. It was quite easy to get tickets online and find a local place to stay. There were several pensions (almost like a bed and breakfast) available the weekend we wanted to visit. I was getting so excited and nervous about the Olympics. It was becoming more and more real!

My Experience At The 2018 Winter Olympics

With tickets in hand, my spouse and I drove to PyeongChang. It took us about 3 hours to get into town and we reached our pension before our first game, the 7.5km Women’s Biathlon Sprint.

I knew it was going to be COLD. But, I don’t think anyone could have prepared us for how cold. I wore many, many layers and I was still freezing.

My spouse, who is from Boston, kept seeking shelter throughout the event, while the folks from Scandinavia kept at it.

Despite how painful it was to be outside, we were determined to make it until the end of he event. Here we were watching these amazing athletes killing it on the course, doing something that I can never fathom doing, the least I could do was rally to cheer them on.

Team USA wasn’t the favorite to win in the biathlon, but that didn’t matter to me. The best part of our first game experience was being among the international community. I was so humbled to have the opportunity to come together with other fans to celebrate sportsmanship. Everyone was in such good spirits. We met fans from France, Canada, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden and more! Germany won the gold and we came across a huge troupe of Germans that supported their athlete.

Our day two at the Olympics was what I was most looking forward to…figure skating!

My Experience At The 2018 Winter Olympics

I purposely picked a weekend that included figure skating because that was priority one for me. Figure skating is my favorite Winter Olympic event.

What spectators don’t realize is that all the games are spread out from each other. Snowboarding, all the rest of the snow games, and the ice games are about an hour from each other. We had to drive about an hour to make it to the “coastal cluster” for figure skating, but the traffic was light and easy. I was getting pumped!

We saw ice dancing, the ladies’ short program and the pairs’ short program. I was yet again impressed with how easy the skaters made their axles and toe loops. Of course, when there was the occasional fall, the audience’s gasp echoed the stadium, but was quickly followed by applause for their effort.

When we were watching the figure skaters, it almost seemed like an out of body experience because I’ve watched it so much on TV. It was almost like I was sitting in my living room, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe I was sitting as a spectator for the performances.

Also, I have to mention that I completely geeked out when I saw Johnny Weir!

We ironically sat in the next section over from NBC’s booth and bordering the press area – if only I could have heard what they were saying!

My Experience At The 2018 Winter Olympics

All in all, it was surprising how the Olympics felt like being at a theme park. A theme park that included people from around the world.

I’m so happy we decided to bite the bullet and go at it on our own by driving there because we were able to travel around on our own time. Attending the Winter Olympics was so much easier than we expected.

Never in my dreams did I think I would make it to see the Olympics.

But, for us, everyday Americans, it doesn’t happen. Because the military sent us to South Korea, it gave us the opportunity to make a dream a reality. Now, we can say we’ve been to the Olympics and as a pleasant surprise, the military made that happen for us.

The countdown to the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo is on! So, for anyone that gets PCS orders to Japan in the near future, you have something to look forward to!

Rachel Tringali Marston is an Army spouse and daughter of an Air Force retiree. Before getting married, she lived in New York City for almost 10 years and worked as a publicist. Currently, Rachel is the president and owner of Wanderlust Public Relations and works as a freelance communication professional taking her career where ever the Army sends her. Rachel enjoys learning and exploring the area around her husband’s duty station and is embracing life in the military. In her spare time, she shares her adventures on her personal blog called Wandering Rae of Sunshine.

How I Designed My Positive Social Network

The other day I opened up Facebook and all I saw were political diatribes. People were posting and commenting back and forth. The name calling and personal attacks were vicious. As I scrolled further down my newsfeed, it didn’t get better.

At lunch with a friend, we got stuck in an endless loop of general complaints, gossip and finger-pointing. When I left, I felt more dejected and upset than when I arrived.

Generally, the last year or so have seemed like a never-ending cycle of bad news, nasty attitudes and general terribleness. It’s been a lot and it’s been depressing. I seriously cannot take any more of the negativity.

It was time for a radical change.

How I Designed My Positive Social Network

How I Designed My Positive Social Network

All of the nasty posts and negative conversations started to take a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I decided I really needed a change. So I chose to overhaul all my social connections.

Permission To Be Positive

Start with yourself. After all, the best changes start at home! Try keeping a journal or alerting yourself when you start to complain. I really like some of the methods I found at The Orange Rhino. Their challenge is all about stopping parents from yelling at their children. But the same principles can be applied to anything.

Put money into a complaints jar, like a swear jar, whenever you find yourself stuck in a cycle of grousing about life. Keep track of your positive comments and try to meet a daily minimum. Give yourself daily prompts, like The Love Dare, to complete. Your prompts could be specific (say something nice about deployment or 24-hour duty) or more general (compliment someone today). Another idea is to journal about what makes you happy.

When you feel happy, you’re more likely to radiate that to others!

End Negative Talks

Whether you are talking to yourself or with a friend, set clear guidelines about positive and negative conversations.

Internally, give yourself permission to be upset about things. It’s normal to be unhappy, sad and angry. These are valid emotions. But you’re only hurting yourself when you start the negative self-talk.

With your friends, stop conversations or redirect them when they turn to the complaint tracks. Pause and say “I hear your concerns and I understand them. How can we fix the situation? Can we talk about that?”

Another option is to say “I know you’re upset about (situation), but I feel like we talk about this all the time and never solve it. I’d love to share one thing that’s good right now.”

Actually, one of my favorite podcasts does this. At the end of every episode, the hosts share one positive thing that happened to them that week. It brings up the tone of the conversation and ends on a high note. (Full disclosure: My Favorite Murder is a true crime podcast, so it’s often a bit of a downer.)

If you find that a friend just can’t bring it back to the lighter side or work toward positive solutions, it might be time to start distancing yourself. I recommend this not to be mean or end a good friendship, but for mental health purposes. It’s hard to be positive if you are in an echo chamber of negativity. Think about that.

Curate Positive On Social Media

Facebook is where I’ve seen a lot of the most divisive and hateful comments lately. People seem to think that being behind a screen gives them permission to be ugly toward others. Words hurt, folks!

I’ve gotten tired of seeing yet another political rant, comment or post in my feeds. I don’t want to unfriend folks right away. After all these are some of my family and friends! But I can’t deal with the negativity overwhelm anymore.

How I Designed My Positive Social Network

So I did a thing.

Go to Facebook. Look at a post, any post. In the top right corner of each and every post are three little dots. Click there.

A menu of options should appear. It’s magic. Find the second, third and fourth options.

  • One should be “Hide Post.” This means you’ll never see that particular post again. You can even hide posts from particular third party pages, like hiding every post your Facebook friends make about Caillou.
  • You can also “Snooze” your friend for 30 days. This lets you take a short break from seeing their posts without removing them completely from your feed.
  • The next option is to “Unfollow” your friend, which takes all of their posts out of your Facebook newsfeed while still keeping them as a friend.

Genius.

Next, go through your pages and groups. Next to the “Liked” and “Joined” indicators should be something called “Follow.” Click there. You can decide how and when you see posts from that group or page.

For pages/groups that are mostly positive, you can opt to see them first in your feed. Go ahead and do that.

I personally have Following Atticus set to appear first in my newsfeed. I love to see the adventures of Tom and his furry companions. Who doesn’t love sweet puppy stories first thing?

When I set clear boundaries online and in real life, I’ve found that it’s been way easier to be positive and happy. I don’t have the endless barrage of insults, so I can focus on the good in life.

How to do build positivity into your life? Share your best tips in the comments!

How I Used Social Media To Land My Job

by Sam Lark Jr, Guest Contributor

How This Military Spouse Used Social Media To Land His Job

As a military spouse, I’ve realized that applying online for a job and waiting to be contacted by the hiring manager doesn’t work.

I used social media to establish my personal brand, bypass job applications, get noticed and hired (twice).

In order to tell this story, we need to lay some groundwork.

I have a chemistry degree. I worked for several years in research and development. In 2011, I left my position on good terms, and the only place I ever knew to be home, Philadelphia. I moved to Orlando to follow my heart. My wife Michelle (who was my girlfriend at that time) was living in Florida. I dropped everything and took a chance on love. Looking back, I’d do it all over again.

The economy in Florida was tough. After struggling for 3 years, we took a chance on Michelle getting into the Workforce Opportunity Services’ (WOS) program designed to get veterans careers in the corporate world. We had to move to New Jersey for this program.

In the beginning of 2015, I attended a job fair for veterans and military spouses. I met a regional manager of Orkin Pest Control. We exchanged information and connected on LinkedIn. At the time, I was working as a telemarketer. Some would say this role didn’t use the full potential of my degree.

However, I turned those lemons into lemonade.

I wrote an article on LinkedIn, “Why You Should Value Your Job As A Telemarketer.” No more than 12 hours after publishing, the regional manager I met at the job fair several months prior, sent me a message on LinkedIn. He said that a role became available and invited me in for a job interview.

If he and I weren’t connected on LinkedIn, he wouldn’t have gotten the notification about my article (note: I was able to see that he viewed my article) and may not have thought about me for the position. I went in for the interview and accepted their job offer.

After nearly a year of working as a contractor in the WOS program, Michelle was offered a full-time role! We had to move from New Jersey to Texas. When we arrived, I applied for a role at Main Street Hub.

I didn’t rely solely on my job application.

I used these 5 approaches on social media:

  • I used LinkedIn to make connections with employees holding the same job for which I applied, managers and the Co-CEOs/Founders of the company.
  • I had ongoing Twitter conversations with my current manager about his favorite college football team.
  • I created a Twitter list with current employees, managers and the company account.
  • I watched what was shared to learn more about the company culture and current projects.
  • I engaged with the company by commenting on and sharing their social media posts.

The above activities put me on Main Street Hub’s radar. Several weeks after submitting my application, their recruiter reached out to me for an interview. I ultimately became their first-ever hire from Twitter. They featured my story on the company’s blog.

Utilize social media to build your personal brand and control how potential employers see you.

– Sam Lark Jr, Military Spouse Who Works It

As a military spouse, you can use various social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to stand out when applying for jobs. Social media will allow you to build your personal brand, frame your story how you’d like to be perceived and connect with people who can get you an “in” within companies.

As you interact on social media, it’s important to approach networking by seeking to provide value rather than only asking for things.

When companies are hiring, they aren’t only looking for candidates to meet the technical qualifications of the role. They are looking for culture fit as well. To determine this, they look at a person’s personality. Social media provides you a platform for companies to get to know you as a potential employee.

How This Military Spouse Used Social Media To Land His Job

Whenever sharing content on social media, ask yourself these 3 questions before posting:

  1. “If a potential employer saw this, would it skew their view of me?”
  2. “Does this enhance the message I’m relaying with my personal brand?”
  3. “Is this a political, religious or controversial topic?”

If allowed, people’s perception of military spouses can become reality. By only sharing what you want people to see on social media, you control the narrative and determine how people see you.

Sam Lark JrSam Lark Jr is an account manager at Main Street Hub. He is passionate about sharing my message with students, career seekers, active duty & transitioning military, veterans, and military spouses. You can connect with Sam on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Stop Hustling And Start Succeeding In Your Business

by Jenny Hale, Guest Contributor

The draw of entrepreneurship and the flexibility that comes with it is attractive to the military spouses.

Entrepreneurship is an exciting adventure that offers a sense of pride, purpose and accomplishment for military spouses who are looking for an alternative career path that works around the demands of military life.

I’ve learned this first-hand working with military spouse and veteran entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship offers the opportunity for military spouses to set their own schedule, find the freedom to move their online businesses across the country if their spouse receives PCS orders, and spend the time they want with their kids and their family.

Entrepreneurship is hard work and doesn’t come easy.

There’s a saying that you work 80 hours a week as a business owner so you don’t have to work 40 hours for someone else.

While it depends on the business you run, I believe in embracing the hustle. A business isn’t built overnight and it does require time and effort.

If you’re passionate about your business, it shouldn’t feel like “work,” but you do want to ensure that you’re actually spending time on business tasks that bring a return on investment (ROI). Without ROI, you’re just hustling with no end in sight. Time management is key in business ownership and learning to prioritize the things that matter in order to make more money is vital.

Stop Hustling And Start Succeeding In Your Business

As a military spouse entrepreneur, it’s easy to spend your whole day on social media and feel like you accomplished nothing. Your business needs marketing in order to make money, but it’s the No. 1 thing entrepreneurs lack a strategy on from my experience. Your marketing needs to be purposeful and focused.

Here are 4 ways to stop mindlessly hustling and better manage your business to make money.

Understand How Marketing And Social Media Works

When I speak with military entrepreneurs who are struggling with their marketing, I always find an underlying issue preventing them from finding success. Every entrepreneur knows they need to market their business and everyone says to use social media. However, beyond that, there is no strategy in place on what to post or how to use it.

Before you waste your time online, you need to understand how marketing works and how social media marketing is crucial. First, as a business owner, your job on social media is not to sell your product. This concept is shocking to business owners.

Think about it! Before you started your business, what did you scroll on Facebook for? Often, it’s to see pictures of your friends and family. It was to post elements of your life and share experiences.

It wasn’t used on a day-to-day basis to buy a product or service from someone.

Your customers aren’t on social media to be sold to! They’re on social media to be social!

It’s your job as an entrepreneur to build their loyalty through relationships and by sharing your story too. People buy from those they like and know. So, if you’re on social media posting constant links, sharing promotions of your product or service, and otherwise not being social or providing helpful value to the community, you won’t find success on social media.

If you’re already doing that and you’re not finding success, it may have nothing to do with your content, but actually how you’re posting. In fact, it probably has a lot to do with the pesky Facebook algorithm. Your content may be amazing, but it may not be published on your page in a way that Facebook or another social media platform wants you to post it for maximum success due to the algorithm.

If you don’t understand the data, trends and concept behind the algorithm and how you’re posting and using social media, you’re going to be hustling with no momentum that leads to success. To learn the ins and outs of the Facebook algorithm and why your strategy isn’t working, check out my blog on Beating the Facebook Algorithm by Finding Your Perfect Audience.

Create Your Content In Batches

Once you understand what to post and how to post your content on social media, it’s time to create your content marketing strategy. To maximize your time creating content, I recommend doing it in batches.

As a busy entrepreneur, find moments where you can focus on letting your creative energy flow. I find times where I’m stuck without my phone or reception to be the most productive for me (no distractions allows my best writing to happen).

I get a ton of work done on planes, traveling (dealing with time zone changes is the worst!) and late at night after everyone is asleep.

Once I start, I’m able to dedicate a few hours to letting myself write and share my story. It’s been great to batch create this content all at once and I’m able to get a month’s worth of blog and social media content created during these times. Find time where you can focus on writing and don’t let any distractions get in your way.

It’s OK if it’s not perfect – you can fix it later! Just set time aside to write and create!

Schedule Your Social Media

Once you have created your content, you don’t want it to go to waste! Set time aside to schedule posts. Facebook’s native scheduling tool allows you to schedule up to 6 months in advance.

Twitter is a fairly labor-intensive platform, as the life of a tweet lasts less than an hour on average. Scheduling tools like RecurPost (my favorite) and Hootsuite are great free options.

Stop Hustling And Start Succeeding In Your Business

To save the most amount of time, batch create and schedule evergreen content, meaning it can be used again and again no matter what time of year it is. As you grow your business, collect this content and re-use it.

To save even more time, expand on your content through multiple mediums. If you wrote an article on a topic 6 months ago, create a video on the same content this month. Then, schedule your links through social media on repeat to continue to drive constant views back to your evergreen content.

Outsource When You Can

It’s good to ask for help! If you’re not sure about social media or marketing, reach out to a business that supports entrepreneurs in mastering it. Learn all you can and then, ask for help when you need it.

Jenny HaleJenny Hale is a marketing and social media coach consultant for military spouse and veteran business owners with military-themed businesses. Nicknamed “The Military Social Media Guru,” she uses her extensive background working with military non-profits, military-focused corporate companies, the Army, and as an entrepreneur to help others struggling to meet their business dreams. With the goal of bringing financial freedom to the military community, Jenny works to make an entrepreneur’s vision come to life. You can follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook Groups, and Facebook.

New Legislation Takes Aim At Military Spouse Employment

by T.T. Robinson, Guest Contributor

You finally get the job of your dreams, and it’s time to move.

Or you can’t find child care.

Or your credentials aren’t accepted in your new state.

Or you started your own business and you can’t find a way to operate on post.

Or…insert one of a million other scenarios that military spouses continue to endure in the great plight of finding (and keeping) a job.

For me, the scenario was moving to Guam. I had a great job in Washington, D.C., and I (very wrongly) assumed I’d have no problem finding a job. When we got to island, I sent resume after resume after resume (after resume!), and I didn’t hear a thing. I finally found a position that actually aligned to my experience and was ecstatic to apply. I heard back from the hiring manager the next day and we excitedly discussed my knowledge, skills and abilities. We both knew I was the most qualified candidate that would apply; I’d done nearly the exact same job they were hiring for on the national level in D.C.

Then the hiring manager asked The Question.

“What brought you to Guam?”

I didn’t hesitate in telling him – I was proud of my husband’s service. I also didn’t think it would result in my interviewer responding, “Oh. We’ll let you know,” only to never hear from him again.

We all have (or know someone who has) had a similar experience. Fortunately for us, someone is listening:

This week Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, hoping to stem the tide of military spouse unemployment.

Last week, I had the opportunity to tell my story (along with three of my co-advisors on the Military Family Advisory Network) at Senator Kaine’s announcement of his intention to introduce the bill.

At the event, Kaine talked about the national unemployment rate and how it compares to that of military spouses. Spoiler alert: Ours is much, much higher, and Kaine is committed to fighting that. Fortunately for us, he understands the struggles and complexities of military families firsthand; his oldest son is a married, active duty Marine.

While there are several facets to this legislation, and many involve commissioning studies in order to have more data points, there are 4 main foci of the bill:

New Legislation Takes Aim At Military Spouse Employment

Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018

Employment Opportunities

This aims to bolster military spouses’ competitiveness in the job market by modifying federal hiring authority so that federal agencies can expedite the hiring of a candidate who is a military spouse. Additionally, it requires DoD to come up with a plan to increase the participation of military spouse friendly businesses in defense contracts. Last but not least, it encourages DoD to submit a plan on how to best facilitate military spouse entrepreneurship on installations…as in, how do you get a contract for one of those little kiosks outside the PX/NEX/BX? And how do we ensure you can actually earn a livelihood from said kiosk instead of paying an unreasonable amount for rent?

Continuing Education and Training

This pillar instructs DoD to evaluate how to expand and increase awareness of existing programs to military spouses, specifically the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA). MyCAA provides an incredible opportunity to receive a non-competitive scholarship of up to $4,000 to pursue associate degrees, certificates, professional licenses and even the costs of recertifying credentials.

Child Care

Child care is very near and dear to my heart as I was supposed to start a job 2 weeks after moving to our new duty station, only to find out it was almost a yearlong waiting list. Living far from family and not knowing a soul, too often, we have to choose between affordable, reliable child care or working.

This part of the bill instructs the DoD to examine ways to increase the number of cleared child care providers while ensuring DoD adheres to child care safety rules. So, another study, but I’m remaining cautiously optimistic that some headway will be made as they look at finding more options for child care.

Counseling and Transition Assistance

This part of the bill allows transitioning service members and their spouses an additional six months of access to Military One Source (currently limited to only six months after transition). This might not sound like a big deal, but every spouse I’ve talked to says that the six-month mark is right about the time the honeymoon of retirement sets in and the “needing resources” phase begins. An extension will be so useful for families. Additionally, this provision allows military spouses to attend Transition Assistance Programs (TAP) with their service members, allowing for smoother transitions to civilian life for the whole family.

Kaine hopes the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 will be attached to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, with bipartisan support.

“It’s a military readiness issue,” Kaine said. “And of course all want to help our military spouses advance.”

TT RobinsonT.T. Robinson is a Navy wife, mommy and political correspondent for NextGen MilSpouse. She also currently writes the Deployment Diary for Motherlode, the New York Times parenting blog, and is a regular contributor for SpouseBuzz. Follow her on Twitter, find her on Facebook or visit her website, www.ttrobinsonwrites.com

I Have A Message For The Ladies

by Sean P. O’Driscoll, Guest Contributor

Morning ladies, I am looking to get some advice on what would be the best way to get my kids to help around the house while my husband is deployed. Thanks!

When reading those first words, can you tell who my question was directed to? Did you immediately quit reading the question and go to the comments section to remind the author that this is

1) a Facebook group of spouses (not wives)

2) expressed your feelings with some sort of emoji

3) replied with “I’m not a lady so I guess you don’t want my advice on your problem”

I do a combination of the three and so do other male military spouses. Why? Well, because that is what guys do.

It happens all the time. Most military spouse Facebook pages/groups have changed their description from a military “wives” to a “spouses” page/group after a request from one of us.

I was told I can join and be the male voice or I can create a group specifically for the male spouses of that particular area.

I messaged the admins of one military wives Facebook page about it, since they are a “multi-branch organization made up of Spouses, Girlfriends and Significant others of Military Personnel,” and the reply I got was “let me talk to our CEO but the branding came years ago before Facebook. Give me 10 minutes.”

Well, that was September 1 and I am still waiting for a response. After looking at their page description recently, it hasn’t changed but, they are “an organization that supports Female/Male Spouses and all Family members covering all branches of service.”

I was told I can join and be the male voice or I can create a group specifically for the male spouses of that particular area.

Now what good would that do? Aren’t we all supposed to work together and help each other out? I didn’t join their group, nor will I because it has already been made known that this is a “wives” group and yeah, men can join but would it really be worth it?

I wonder how many other male military spouses have seen this group but were turned off after reading the name and description of the group.

The days of the military being only something that men do while the wives stay home and take care of the household are long gone. More women are joining the military in ALL fields and with them comes male military spouses, female military spouses and their families.

What’s the difference between a male military spouse and a female military spouse whose service members are in the same unit and on the same deployment? Do the female military spouses not have bills, child care questions, yard work, car maintenance, and other similar things that male military spouses have? Maybe each other’s kids would like to interact with other kids whose parents are out defending our freedom?

I don’t have kids but when my wife deploys, I need some adult interaction! I love my dogs and all but they don’t talk much and can’t carry on a conversation. They only “talk” when the postal worker drops off a package or they see a deer in the yard.

Other than that, it’s pretty quiet around so having some sort of local spouses group to be a part of would really help out in the socialization department.

So the next time you post a question in a military spouse Facebook group, please take into consideration who is in your audience. Because we might have a solution to your question too.

Sean P. O’Driscoll is an Emergency Medical Technician and has been a military spouse for 6 yearsSean P. O’Driscoll is an Emergency Medical Technician and has been a military spouse for 6 years. His experiences in military spouse groups lead to his decision to start writing as a military spouse. More of his writings can be seen at militaryspouse.com.

How To Watch The 2018 Winter Olympics Without Cable

When my husband and I cut the cable cord after our last PCS, I was worried. How would I watch my beloved TV? Thanks to a combination of streaming site subscriptions (Hiiii Netflix and HBOGo, I need my “Game of Thrones” after all), I was fine.

I didn’t miss it, until now.

Why now?

THE OLYMPICS!!!!

Sorry, I get excited.

You see, I LOVE the Olympics. Summer Olympics. Winter Olympics. Doesn’t matter. They are both AMAZING. I love seeing all of the countries in the Opening Ceremony. I love discovering new sports. I love cheering for underdogs.

But without cable, how do I watch it all? It’s really the main downside of not having a cable package – sports are difficult to watch.

That’s where some very excellent news comes in for me, and you too if you cut the cord: AAFES.

Yes, your favorite place to shop on post (besides the commissary, obviously), has a great deal for service members and veteran families – STREAMING the Olympics. For FREE.

Yes, I said free.

So whether you cut the cable like I did or you’re living OCONUS and have to hear that iconic Olympics theme song from NBC, AAFES has you covered.

Here’s how you can watch:

  1. If you haven’t already, set up an account with ShopMyExchange.com. They will ask for your veteran or service member’s information (the usual Social Security number and date of birth), then you can create an account. If you already have one (or your spouse does) be sure to have the login information handy, e.g. email and password.
  2. Download the NBC Sports app to your mobile device or tablet. Watching on your computer? Bookmark NBCOlympics.com. Both will allow you to live-stream events or watch on demand. They will also have highlights and video features.
  3. Starting February 6, which is 2 days before the games begin, NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports app will list the Exchange as an authorized service provider alongside your standard Comcast, Dish, and other cable and satellite dish companies. They advise you to have the latest version of the NBC Sports app and then select Exchange as your service provider. You’ll then be prompted to login with your account.
  4. Voila! You’re ready to watch the games!

Now here’s my pro-tip: you’re going to need to remember your log in beyond the initial time that you log in. I have an Apple TV and it routinely asks me to reauthorize apps, so be prepared for that to happen on mobile and your desktop. It’s totally normal, don’t curse at your screen, just follow the steps and the Olympics will be back on in no time.

A couple other disclaimers from the powers that be, aka NBC/AAFES: if your service member is deployed, this may not work depending on their internet. And it definitely won’t work if they are on a ship. So if that is your service member’s situation, warn them in advance.

It also does not work on streaming apps, like AppleTV or Roku, which is a bummer. But to watch it on the big screen plug your computer into your TV or connect your screen via bluetooth (if you can), so you can see the action on your TV.

Is this really free? Yes. 100%

We don’t lie to you here at NextGen MilSpouse and if there was a cost we’d tell you. Scout’s honor.

If you have a virtual reality device, some of the coverage (more than 50 hours according to NBC) will be available if you own one of these devices that supports the NBC Sports app. This sounds awesome, I don’t have a VR device, but if you do please tell me how awesome it is. Or send me one for my birthday which is on the day the games begin. I will love you forever.

And that friends, is all that you need to know. Happy watching!