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.
So what can you do to combat this?!
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.
It’s Military Appreciation Month and its time for the Military Family Lifestyle Survey! I have been involved with this survey for about five years now. Each year I have seen it grow and its reach spread further and further. The potential impact for this survey is huge! Individuals with significant power to affect the welfare of military families see the results of this survey. It goes a long way to educate individuals on the needs of military spouses, service members and even military children! It is a leading resource for policy makers, corporations and non-profits. Taking the survey is a way for your voice to be heard!!!
In 2016 the survey provided us with some very valuable information. Across the board Military Pay/Benefits was at the forefront of military spouses, service members and veterans minds. The top five concerns for military spouses were as follows – military pay and benefits, spouse employment, change in retirement benefits, Impact of deployment on kids and family stability. One of the most astonishing, yet not shocking, results was that 88% of survey takers felt like those in the civilian world did not understand the sacrifices made by service members and their families. Survey results also include information about military kids, retirement, suicide, mental health and caregiving.
After 15+ years of war military families are tired. Our emotions are raw, issues of mental health are at the forefront, and we don’t want to be forgotten. While 77% of those surveyed are happy with their military life, 72% believe that the current optempo causes an undo amount of stress for a healthy family life. That is a very relatable finding. We love our military life, but it can be exhausting for our families.
If you want your voice to be heard, and for that voice to have a real impact on military support this is the best way to do so. This survey goes directly into the hands of those that can make a difference and they do read it! Keep sharing your story and never stop!
Don’t miss your chance to give your story a voice, a voice that has the potential to make a real impact! And if you take the survey you are entered to win a $100 gift card!
You guys!! I was the luckiest girl in all the land last weekend. I got to go hangout with some of my fellow milspouses at Project Cinderella! I had heard about this event but had never been able to attend before. But this year I decided to make it happen, and boy am I glad I did. It was so much fun. Really I had more fun watching everyone else have fun. Thinking about all the military spouses or female service members who were in attendance that maybe just really needed this day of pampering for whatever reason. I saw so many smiles that day it just made my heart swell. This is such a great event and I urge you to find out if your USO is hosting something similar. If you have dresses or shoes or other products that you could donate to an event like this do it! Some of these spouses really need these simple blessings and this is fantastic way to get rid of what you have that you might never use again while touching the lives of others.
I was so happy to run into my fellow Spouse of the Year sister, Natasha!!! She’s amazing and we don’t get to see each other very often
I’m also convinced that DC is the smallest place in the world, because I also ran into fellow DC Blogger/Fashionista lover, Patty from @Stylebypatty (go look her up on Instagram). She’s a milspouse as well?! What?!
I also want to give a big shout out to the main sponsor of the event, EY (Earnst and Young)! They did so much for this event and continually support military spouses and families! THANK YOU!
The Fabulous Elaine Rodgers, who runs the USO metro
We had so really fun sessions to sit in on. One was all about etiquette and just what to expect when you attend a fancy military dinner or event with three forks! It was fun! We laughed and gave each other tips and advice. It might sound corny, but it was good.
We also got a visit from Miss Virginia and who else can say they had Elaine take a picture of them with a beauty queen!?
I also want to take some time to acknowledge an amazing woman who came to speak to us. I knew of Veteran’s Court, but knowing about it in a general sense was about it. Melissa Fitzgerald left her amazing Hollywood Life to move here to the DC area to be in charge of Justice for Vets. Giving back was always a part of her life and I wish I could spend more time telling you her story. Look it up, because it is inspiring and encouraging! Consider checking out Justice For Vets and educating yourself about this amazing program!
I play the “I’ve got it card” a lot! It’s my jam. When your spouse is gone what seems like all the darn time you get tired of saying that it’s hard. People say, “Oh that must be hard,” and you slap a smile on your face and say that you’ve got it. Thank you for your sympathy and probably sometimes your pity. When I hit that three week mark, right before the stride of our new rhythm kicks in, is when you see me. I’m probably frazzled, ordering take-out and making peanut butter and jelly because the thought of going to grocery store actually makes me want to cry ugly tears. I probably smiled and said something like, “oh, you know we’re making it through.” Right now, one of my friend’s reading this is probably laughing hysterically because I have in fact said that to them.
But sometimes its not easy. You tell me that its okay for me to admit its not, and I hear you, but admitting that to myself isn’t something that is easy for me to do. It’s like flood gates on a dam. Once you open them its incredibly difficult to close them. When I didn’t have children I found it much easier to be mope about, but these days its harder. I want so much for my children, for them to be happy and not be filled with worry and sadness. Their whole lives have been this way, they know nothing different. We have an open home when it comes to their father’s career. We allow them the freedom to talk about how they feel, to cry and to be angry. There is no secret when mommy is sad, but I want to give them security and peace as best that I can.
So, yes, sometimes it isn’t easy. It is very very hard. And I know its asking a lot to expect you to know that without me having to tell you….but sometimes that is how it has to be. I hate to place that burden on you as a civilian friend, or even as my another military spouse. But sometimes the thought of admitting what is really going on, or having a conversation about it is just too much to deal with.
Sometimes it isn’t easy, and I probably won’t admit it
As a military family who loves our moto gear, these little guys from Hallmark are right up our alley!! I am so excited about these little guys, but can you really blame me? They are so darn cute.
We added our Camo Ittys Bittys to our collection, which currently consists of this little guy from Rainbow Bright.
You can find Itty Bitty’s exclusively on Hallmark.com and at Hallmark Gold Crown stores! You can even get free pick-up at your local store. If you are looking for fun stocking stuffer for your military kid, or maybe something easy to send to your milkid or family member while you are deployed, these are a great option!
I’m so excited to partner with Hallmark and giveaway a pair of your own Camo Itty Bittys!! Simply leave a comment below telling me who you would give them to, or if you’d just keep these little guys for yourself (no shame in that! I want to steal them from my kids!!)