It’s hard to believe that at this time in 2011, I had no clue about anything regarding the military. Ryan and I started dating in late 2012, and even in the beginning of our marriage, I was utterly clueless as regarding the complexities of military life. That’s a large part of why I started this blog seven years ago; I wanted to connect with others, have a place to log my thoughts and feelings, and learn to grow in this lifestyle. I haven’t posted a lot about military life lately because, honestly, so much is in flux right now. But with the year wrapping up, it felt like a good time to share the most common questions I get as a military spouse.
I feel like I should caveat this post with something broad and disclaimer-ish like, military life is a personal journey. Motherhood and the military is a whole different ballgame and, when push comes to love, I’m still learning. I feel like I’ll be learning the ins and outs of this lifestyle until the day Ryan retires. Nevertheless, this is what people have asked, so these are my personal answers.
The Most Common Questions I Get As a Military Spouse
Where do you want to go next?
OCONUS! For those unfamiliar with the military, OCOCNUS means “outside of the continental US.” Ryan and I have thought about this one a lot, and we feel like it’s a great time in both ours and our children’s lives to move overseas. They’re young enough to adapt to new cultures and new languages, and I think it’s safe to say we love a good adventure! That being said, the military gets the final say, so while we can put our preferences in the marketplace, at the end of the day, the Army gets to choose.
But your housing is free if you live on base, right?
No, it’s actually not. It can feel free because we never actually see the money that’s paid for our housing but, no, it’s not free. Each month, our rent for this house on JBLM is taken out of Ryan’s paycheck, and it’s simply put towards this housing community. If you live off post, BAH (basic allowance for housing) is still included in your paycheck, so it’ll look higher, but that money in your paycheck then goes to rent.
Is military life really like Army wives?
Yes, I actually do get asked this question a lot, and while I’ve never actually watched the show, I’m going to hazard a guess and say no. A lot of the cinematic portrayals of this lifestyle are highly fictionalized and dramatized, which I’m assuming Army Wives is, too. Honestly, our life is pretty normal as a whole; we just have some extra challenges and speed bumps along the way.
What was your favorite duty station?
I think each duty station has its own merit! While there are duty stations that, as a whole, I wouldn’t choose again, I think we’re lucky to be given the opportunity to live for a set period of time at any given station. That said, for us, Fort Drum has been our favorite thus far, which is funny because most people hate it! Fort Drum is at the very tip of of New York, right on the border of Canada, and I feel like it takes a special breed of human to thrive in that small-town environment. We loved our little community in Black River, and we loved all the beautiful open spaces. And, though highly deployable there, when Ryan was home, he was actually home.
How do you make it through a deployment?
You just do it! No, seriously. I spent the first half of Ryan’s first deployment drowning in self-pity regarding all the things. It was a hard deployment, and we had a ton of challenge to face, like Danny being hit by a car, both boys being hospitalized, our basement flooding, etc. But, you either pick up and keep going, or you settle for being miserable. This last deployment, Mieke was a brand new baby, and we still thrived. I make it through the same way my service member does – day by day.
What is your favorite part about military life?
The adventure, 100%. Military life is challenging, it’s chaotic, it’s fun, and it’s exciting. It presents a world of adventure and, if you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone, it opens a world of possibilities. I love those possibilities, and they far outweigh our challenges thus far.
Tell me – what sort of questions do you have about military life?