by Laura Maravillas, MacDill Happenings blogger
Resources for New and Not So New Military Spouses!
Being a military spouse has been described as one of the hardest jobs you will ever do. Life as a spouse and parent is challenging enough, but add on deployments and frequent change of duty stations and the stress level goes up. But military spouse life can also be an exciting adventure! How many of our civilian spouse friends can say they’ve lived in Germany, Okinawa, Guam, or even Bahrain? As military spouses, we’re constantly reinventing ourselves, wearing several hats at one time, and keeping a marriage fresh thousands miles apart. With these changes come so many rewards, like the pride you feel when you start a new career or when you fix the toilet by yourself, but one of the sweetest rewards is that first kiss when your active duty member arrives home safe.
Military spouses face many challenges such as PCS moves, employment and education issues, making new friends, and finding time to take care of themselves. Here at MilitaryByOwner Advertising, we know all about these challenges as 95% of our employees are military spouses themselves! We’ve compiled these resources to help take some of the stress out of those challenges that we face as military spouses.
· Move.mil. Once you receive orders, you’ll create an account on Move.mil to start planning your move. You’ll get
information on which company will move you, information on household goods weight allowances, what you cannot move, housing allowance, and per diem.
· MilitaryByOwner.com Once you have your move set up, you’ll need to find a new home at your duty station. Not only can you shop for homes for rent or sale on the site, but you can also find information on base housing, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and property managers.
· Military Housing Office. Checking in at this office is part of your active duty spouse’s check-in process. The housing office is a great source of information, including off-limits areas and lease information. The housing office will also direct you to privatized housing if that’s available at your duty station. You can find the information for the military housing office by going to the "search by state section" of MilitaryByOwner.com, then click on the state you’re headed to. Find the base or post, then click the "more base information" button.
· MilitaryBases.com is another good source for gaining information on your new duty station. The site offers information and a connection to the base website.
· Overseas PCS check-list: moving overseas can be intimidating! Here’s a starting point.
Employment and Education:
· Spouse Education & Career Opportunities. A great resource to help you with your job search, resume writing, and education along with other tools addressing education and employment questions.
· Military Spouse Employment Partnership. Another great tool for finding employment, writing a resume and interview tips. This is especially a great resource when looking for a new or portable career.
· MyCAA. For spouses of active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2 and O-1 to O-2. Great resource for those spouses whose active duty member is just starting a military career.
· Post 911 GI Bill Transferability. This Bill allows active duty service members to transfer their GI Bill education benefits to dependents, including spouses. Check the eligibility requirements for this benefit.
· U.S. Department of Education. This is a great resource for finding information on grants and scholarships.
· U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Information on education and employment.
· MOAA Spouse. A great resource to keep you update on any new legislation being passed in reference to spouse employment and education. They also share a lot of resource information on those same subjects.
· Spouse Scholarship information. Great list of scholarships available to military spouses.
· My tip: Reinvent yourself! If finding employment in your chosen career is not an option, then make use of talents you have such as cake decorating, dog walking, or direct sales. I even met a spouse who started her own lawn and gardening business. Spouses like me who did not like to mow the lawn were thrilled to pay her to do the job!
Making New Friends:
· Joining your local spouse club can be a good way to meet people. This can be an intimidating step and may take several attempts before you find your comfort zone, but you may make friends you’ll have for a lifetime. Most spouse groups have sub clubs such as book club, gourmet club, and Bunco. Joining one of these smaller groups may be less intimidating and can give you the courage to participate in the bigger group events.
· Volunteer. This is another great opportunity to make friends. Volunteering not only gets you out of the house, but it also looks great on your resume and may be an opportunity to learn a new skill set.
· Take classes at the base gym, hobby center, or Family Service Center. Every branch of service has a different name for their family service center--this is where the official website for your duty station will come in handy.
Taking Care of You:
· Make sure you schedule your yearly checkups.
· Give yourself a break once in a while! Go get a manicure, massage, or just go for a walk.
· Know that we all have our up and down days, but make sure if you seem to have more down days than up you should let your doctor know.
· Know who your family readiness contact is. The name is different for each branch of service (Marine Corps has a Family Readiness Officer and the Navy has Ombudsmen). These groups are designed to help spouses deal with the stresses of being a spouse, especially when your active duty member is deployed. If you have questions on pay, moving, or mental health support, this is one of your best resources.
· The military chaplain is another resource to help you take care of yourself and those around you.
· Military Crisis Line. 1-800-273-8255
· TRICARE has many resources and programs.
· Talk to someone. Don’t let your feelings stay bottled up.
· Find a hobby that makes you happy and keeps you busy, whether it’s running or crocheting!
General Military Spouse Resources:
· Military Spouse Magazine
· Army Wives Network
Life as a military spouse can be the most rewarding "job" you’ll ever have. And just remember--if the place you’re in at one moment is not where you want to be, give it a year or so and a new set of PCS orders will give you a change of scenery and a new adventure!