Since 2004, the day I said “I DO” I became a military spouse. Before then I was a military girlfriend, and made the decision with my now husband to enter into this lifestyle. I was excited about it and ready to be all in. However, I didn’t enter into a typical active duty lifestyle. What I entered into was the Active Guard Reserve lifestyle of the Air National Guard. Every morning he put on his uniform and went into work. But the work he went into was on a teeny tiny Guard base in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have a host of military support non-profits located near us. We had no commissary, exchange or base housing. It’s this feeling of belonging, but being on the very edge of the group you belong to. You feel isolated and alone, especially when it comes to activations and deployments. Many states try very hard to assist those of us that are remotely serving. We had great doctors and hospitals we accessed through Tricare Prime Remote, and the local WalMart had a card we registered for and carried around that gave us tax-free status. But when it came to programs for our children and our families, we were severely lacking.
It was during these early years that I started this blog. I began an endless searching for support organizations that helped families like mine. Gathering resources and housing them here on this blog. I knew that I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way and I wasn’t. It even came to my attention that there were service members in my husband’s unit who didn’t even live in the same state, or had to get on a plane to come to drill. It would be about five years and we would become that family. There are obvious flaws in the system, and families fall through the cracks. And you can’t always rely on the idea that, “Well, they are a National Guard family, they probably live in their ‘hometown’ or with their extended families.” We definitely did not, and after many years I discovered that that was more common than I realized. What are some of the most important take-aways one should understand about the National Guard (and Reserves) life?
- We are both Military and Civilian, balancing between these two lives.
- There’s a significant lack of understanding coming from the civilians AND fellow military
- Programing available to National Guard and Reserves can be significantly different
- Transitions can be quick and drastic! When a active duty service member deploys their transitions are difficult but transitioning quickly from civilian life to military life when there are no standards for support.
- Fighting an uphill battle because of the change of National Guard life over the years. When talking to leadership, or those involved in the advocacy circle, you may be dealing with folks who served over twenty years ago, when things were very different. I have experienced this before and its a difficult conversation to have.
- TELL YOUR STORY!!! Don’t stop telling your story!! If you ever want to write about it let me know. Homefront United Network is always looking for guest bloggers and writers to tell their story. Even if you don’t think you are a writer, try it!!!!!
- TAKE THE SURVEY! The Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey is a survey that tells your story. It gets into the hands of non-profits, advocacy groups and those involved in the political world.