When each of us began our role as military spouse, some of us might have had a vision of what our purpose would be, and others might not have had the slightest idea.

Not being active duty ourselves, how would we fit into this new world? How would we strike a balance between the military culture and civilian culture? Would there be a balance at all? Would the military life be something that’s checked at the door – just a job, not a mindset?

What sort of relationship would we have with the military?

Our expectations more than likely evolved as we became more experienced. Eventually (hopefully), we developed a sense of our individual roles in the military’s midst, a place and purpose where we felt most comfortable.

As I prepared for this article, I read and thought a lot, reflecting on the many different kinds of relationships I’ve seen military spouses strike with the military.

None have fascinated me quite so much as those who seem to approach their role as if they are called to serve.

What Does “Called to Serve” Mean?

You might say that those who are called to serve see the world around them with unusually keen eyes. They sense need more deeply and feel a strong compulsion to take action.

And when they take action, they sincerely believe they are fulfilling an important purpose. They are solving a problem that affects people not only in the present, but in the future, too. They look at the “big picture,” decide if they are satisfied, and act with a sense of mission.

Being called to serve can be done through small or large means, with spiritual or practical aims. Regardless, those who feel called answer with dedication, determination and a sincere desire to make life better for others.

How Do Military Spouses Serve?

1. Volunteer

Probably the most obvious way that military spouses serve is through organized volunteer work.

In fact, according to the 2016 Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey, 73% of military families volunteer, which is three times the rate of civilian families.

Evidence of this is all over military installations, as military spouse volunteers are behind the counters at hospitals, community centers and thrift shops. They are engaged in youth programs, holiday events and care package-stuffing parties for deployed service members. These military spouses dedicate themselves to the morale and well-being of veterans, active duty members and families. Many of them make it their life’s work to volunteer for the military community.

2. Just Being There

Many answer the call to serve their community informally, simply by being present for fellow spouses in times of need. When another family experiences an extreme trauma or loss, military spouses rally together to provide support. Without delay, they serve families in need by organizing a network of people to provide food, transportation, childcare and emotional support. Still others serve each other in smaller ways, with simple but sincere signs of fellowship, welcome and compassion.