We have now heard about all of the different perks of military life from the perspective of a military spouse of each branch of service. One of the incredible things about the military is that there is SO much diversity in our community.
We are all from different walks of life, have different beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of doing things. This is also true of each branch. They all have their individual perks and quirks.
But there are some things that we ALL have in common. There are perks that we all, regardless of branch, share. I am not talking TriCare, or the dental plan or GI Bill. We all know about those, and to be frank…well, I am not sure that we will be able to count on those things forever.
The perks I am talking about could actually be called something more profound… ‘blessings’ perhaps. Here are the five I consider to be on the top of my list.
Things I have gained as a result of being a part of the military spouse community for 14 years.
Things I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Things that, even though I would never tell Congress, are much more valuable to me than any benefit they could toy with give us.
5) An Incredible Network
This is a direct result of that diversity previously mentioned. There is almost no profession, no expertise, no point of view that I can’t find in my incredible circle of military spouse friends.
Our baby gets a nose bleed one night? Call your milspouse nurse friend for advice.
Have a legal question? There is a milspouse attorney you can call for some ‘unofficial’ legalese.
Is it time to have ‘the talk’ with your son while Dad is on deployment, but you have no idea where to start? Another milspouse friend is an expert at this after raising six boys, or is a father himself.
Really want to understand an opposing political view? Your milspouse neighbor can probably explain why she believes something completely different than you do.
This networking is also a valuable tool when we are moving from place to place, trying to find employment, or need help spreading the word about a cause. Military spouses know how to network better than anyone else, hands down.
4) A Wicked Sense of Humor
Most of us figure out VERY quickly that we must have a sense of humor to survive. How many times can Murphy knock on your door exactly one hour after your spouse leaves for deployment before you go stark raving mad?
How many times does your car have to breakdown in the middle of the desert during a PCS move before you lose your marbles?
Keeping a sense of humor about the quirks of military life is essential and it has served me well in other parts of my life. That doesn’t mean that there are not very serious things we deal with that require much more than a little dose of laughter.
But learning to laugh at the things in which we really have NO control over, frees us up with energy to deal with everything else.
3) Knowing Our Own Strength
I am not a believer in the statement ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ There are some things in life, and yes, in military life, that may not kill us…but don’t necessarily make us stronger.
Ultimately, we have to make the decision to either become stronger after adversity, not let it matter, allow it to make us weaker or seek help when we need to do so.
I am also not the person who thinks that we, as a community or as individuals, should always have to be a pillar of strength because we are married to someone in the military. Yes, being a strong support system is important, but just because we married a service member doesn’t mean that we stopped being human.
BUT I think military life gives us insight into how strong we can be both alone… and as a community. Most of us have that moment during deployment where we are convinced we simply cannot go on. But we make it to the end.
If you had told our community in 2001 that we would still be fighting a war, many of us would have questioned that we would survive. But we are stronger than ever.
Military life spotlights our strengths…and that is certainly a perk we can use in every other aspect of our lives.
2) An Excellent Community
As a military spouse, you and I belong to an amazing community. I have heard spouses say that they have been unlucky in finding this wonderful community I speak of, that they have had experiences with spouses who were petty, mean or unsupportive. That is unfortunate, but we are just like any other group of people.
We have some stinkers too. Please do not let this discourage you.
Because many of us have found that the milspouse community is unlike any other. We volunteer at a much higher rate than the ‘civilian’ population, we are eager to help each other, we support one another and we genuinely care about others.
We understand each other on a different level. If you have not found this to be the case, start looking in different milspouse circles…or create your own! I know many milspouses who will tell you the same thing…the milspouse community has enriched my life in countless, amazing ways.
1) We Get the Best of America’s Heroes
I believe the majority of the American public values and respects our military personnel. They feel a sense of pride when they see them in uniform. They are grateful for the sacrifices they make for our country.
But no one has a better insight into our service men and women than the military spouse. America just gets a glimpse of what ‘service to country’ means, while we see it every single day. We live with the men and women who have dedicated their lives.
Many times it feels like perhaps America really doesn’t ‘get it’…they don’t understand how incredible our military is… they don’t see what they go through. But I think that has more to do with what we DO see…what we DO understand. When I look at my husband in uniform I am overwhelmed with gratitude, a sense of pride, and of course that, ‘Wow…he looks really good in that uniform’ feeling.
It is because for 14 years I have seen firsthand how hard it is for him to leave his family, not knowing if he will return.
I have seen the guilt in his face when his daughter cries, because she has to leave her best friend, again.
I have seen the pride he has in his branch of service.
I have seen the devastation in his eyes when he learns of another casualty of war.
I have seen changes that no one else would pick up on, after multiple deployments.
I can FEEL how much this country means to him when I am next to my husband, standing at attention, when our National Anthem is played.
That instinct, the one that makes us want to scream from the rooftops, is simply our desire for everyone else to see our heroes through our eyes.
Call them perks, blessings…whatever you choose. What are the things that have enriched your life as a military spouse?
Click on each branch to read their Top 10 Perks List: