Military Life

10 Ways the Military Family is Unique Vs. Civilian Families

In so many ways, military families are no different than our civilian family counterparts. We all have to get up in the morning, get ready for our responsibilities, go through our daily grind, enjoy whatever time we can together… and then attempt some shut-eye so we can tackle it all again tomorrow.

We have successes…and failures.
We have triumph…and tragedy.
We laugh…and we cry.
And through it all…we put our pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.

But being a part of a military family also presents some unique challenges, experiences, and joys that folks who have not shared our way of life may miss out on.

Here are my Top 10 Ways the Military Family Is Unique. What items could you add to the list?

10) We speak a different language.

At first, I didn’t understand half of what my husband said when talking about military-related topics. To be fair, after 13 years, there are days I still wonder what in the world he means. But after all this time, I find myself speaking the lingo more often than not. I am constantly speaking in acronyms, much to the chagrin of my “civilian” friends, and can’t help but cringing when someone says they like my husband’s “hat” when he is in uniform.

But, unlike many of my military spouse friends, I never got the hang of military time and at this point I am too stubborn to integrate. It is hard enough to remember what time zone it is in every part of the world where my loved ones are… 17:00 will just have to be 5 o’clock. (Wait! Is that right?!) I am too old to learn a snazzy new way to tell time.

9) We are masters at moving.

Sure, we dread the boxes, packing paper and stress of moving just like everyone else… but we probably have a system in place that will blow your mind. Whether we are moving ourselves, or letting the military movers come in and do the heavy lifting, we have done it so many times that it is a science. Those eight numbered stickers on the belly of the dining room table are badges of honor! Give us two weeks, surprise orders, three kids, two dogs, one goldfish, and no other choice… we will OWN that move from North Carolina to California!

8) We are accustomed to getting along with all kinds of people.

Military installations are truly melting pots filled with folks from all walks of life. You will never find that everyone you meet at one base or post is the same. You are from Jersey, your husband is from Oklahoma, and your neighbors may be from Alabama and Spain.

Everyone grew up with different religious and political backgrounds, and have all had many experiences since that may have shaped what they believe today. Educational backgrounds vary, and there are numerous cultural differences… all on the same block.

I can honestly say that my family has become very well-rounded as a result of the many different people with whom we have shared our military life. When my friend from Ireland sings French lullabies to the baby, my husband’s dear friend calls with his thick Boston accent, or my best friend cooks me a pot of Louisiana style gumbo…I know that my life has been enriched by my husband’s career.

7) You might call our homes eclectic.

All that moving around allows us the opportunity to live in places we would never have imagined. If we were stationed in Japan, for instance, you will probably know immediately when you see the cool piece of furniture we brought back proudly displayed in the living room. The family pictures hanging in the hall taken in Hawaii weren’t from a vacation, but the three years all our military friends hated us for having the good fortune to be stationed there.

Just take a look around our homes and you can probably make some good guesses as to where we have spent our lives. The Texas star in the kitchen, the conch shells in the living room, the lighthouse painting in the dining room… they are probably all treasures from our many different “homes.”

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