the military minute: first duty stations & advice

Welcome to the first week of The Military Minute, a joint feature with Bailey from Becoming Bailey. This collaboration is designed specifically for military spouses, significant others, and those connected to the military way of life. Each month, we’ll share a linkup prompt and post our responses the third Thursday of the month. Today, I’m thrilled to share my answer to our very first prompt:

What was your first duty station, and what are your best tips for adjusting to a new place?

When Ryan and I got married, we lived in two different states. He was stationed at Fort Huachuca at the time, so I joined him shortly after our wedding. For those unfamiliar with Fort Huachuca, it’s located in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a tiny southern border town near Mexico – and a far cry from any sort of state I’ve ever lived. It’s a small area, and Fort Huachuca is the town’s lifeblood, bringing population to a town that might otherwise not be more than a blip on the radar.

Fort Huachuca was my first taste of Army life, and I’ll be entirely honest and say that I was pretty much a useless Army wife. I worked from home, I rarely explored, and the only people I ventured to meet were those Ryan introduced me to. I lived in our little bubble, and I didn’t try to venture far beyond post or my home. Ultimately though, it’s what inspired my take on Army life because I learned a lot through our 11 months there.

We PCSed to Fort Drum in December of 2014 with a new baby and a new outlook on Army life, as a whole. We realized how much we’d squandered our time at Fort Huachuca. While petite, there was so much to explore. Sure, we went to Bisbee a few times, and we made our way to Tombstone and Phoenix occasionally, but that’s about it. Once we got to New York, we decided to make a point of exploring, even when it seemed inconvenient. I’ve shared some of my favorite tips for staying sane post PCS before, but here are my top tips for making a new state or country your home.

  • Get outside. Explore. Don’t feel like you have to make your house or your state, for that matter, your home overnight. Give it time.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone. It’s not going to feel like home unless you let it feel like home. Do the work.
  • Find your sunny side. Sometimes the military sends us to places we don’t want to go, but there’s always something to see and experience there. You just need to find it.
  • Don’t be afraid to reinvent your home, your space, or your goals. You don’t need to replicate your house at every duty station. See what feels right, do what works for you, and enjoy the process.
  • Make a bucket list. Most military families can attest to the fact that duty assignments are fleeting, and 3-4 year stints fly by. Bucket lists help you figure out what you want to do, where you want to go, and what you want to see while you’re there. We made a Fort Lewis bucket list, and we’re slowly chipping away at it.
  • Find your tribe. I’ve mentioned before that the people you meet are the best part of this military life – but they’re also the worst because you inevitably part. It’s possible to expand your tribe though. Don’t be afraid to extend that network and let people in.

I’m lucky, in a sense, that moving is in my blood. I have wanderlust, and I’m always excited for the next big thing. PCSing and exploring new duty stations gives me an excuse to see the country, meet new people, and experience new things, which gives back so much to me in the end. While this life can be hard, this is actually one of the many positives, I think.

Now it’s your turn! We’d love for you to join in on The Military Minute. Whether you’re a new or seasoned military spouse, an active duty soldier or veteran (or heck, anything in between), The Military Minute is inclusive, and we want to hear from you. Drop your link below, and I’ll be sure to check it out!

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