10 Military Mindsets I Don’t Share

 

10 Military Mindsets I Don't Share

 

There are some military cliches you here about that are actually pretty true: we are good at moving, our kids switch schools multiple times throughout their education, and our laundry piles are bigger than most civilian households.  But then there are some stigmas that only ring true for some of us, like the fact that some of us enjoy moving while a few never experience “the itch.”  Here are 10 military mindsets I’ve heard tossed around, but that never sat well with me.  This post is entirely opinion, so feel free to disagree with me.

1. Don’t Buy Nice Things Until You Leave the Military

I definitely have trust issues when I see the movers snatch up my wedding dress and it gets sealed into a faceless generic box, mixed with all my others on a big moving truck that may or may not have a second shipment on it.  But I don’t let the concept of moving every few years keep me from decorating the way I want to, or owning things I want.  Granted, I think being a military family requires a dosage of detachment from material things.  And at the end of the day, moving will always come with a small price to pay (bye, bye, dryer machine foot, you were good to me).

But by in large, you can own beautiful things and decorate as audaciously as you want.  Because life is definitely too short to be living in decorating limbo for years and years.  It’s okay to hold off from buying a glass table or a ridiculously expensive and large vase.  But don’t condemn yourself to plasticware only, or the same sofa you’ve owned since college.  It’s okay to buy new things.  Even if the Army breaks a few of them.  It’s still worth it, to me.

2. Don’t Have Kids Until You Leave the Military

I hear this one all. the. time.  And I never ask people to tell me why they aren’t having kids–I don’t think it’s any of my business!  But since countless people have looked me in the eyes and told me (while I’m holding my own baby) why they think the military is an unsuitable lifestyle for a family, I think it’s fair for me to say why I have found it extremely suitable.

First off, it’s a myth that the “dad” is never home.  True, he deploys and other dads don’t.  But he gets a LOT of compensation time off that civilian dads don’t get.  And the thing about how kids are too expensive to afford on a military salary?  Our babies are free.  (Like the actual birth part).  And from there on out, they get 100% free healthcare.  There is on-post childcare, and some of it is tailored to the family’s income.  And obviously free we have free schools.  Not to mention, you make plenty of money in the military to support a family.  It’s called dependent pay for a reason!  Kids aren’t more expensive in a military family, bottom line.

Yes, living in a military family may come with sacrifices (unique stress, frequent relocating, etc) but it also comes with amazing benefits (experiencing all of the USA instead of just one hometown, bonding with siblings as you move, appreciating the presence of your parents, etc.) I think the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  So to any childless critic who thinks that military families can’t survive– try it out and you’ll see how wonderful it actually is.  That’s coming from someone who actually has kids!

3. Don’t Live On-Post

I’ve lived off-post and I’ve lived on-post.  They definitely both have their benefits.  And while I do recognize and appreciate the benefits of living off-post, I prefer being on-post.  I don’t share  the mindset that you’re selling your soul to the military if you live on-post.  Sure, your neighbors are often your co-workers.  And you bump into the same people frequently around base.  But I don’t agree with the stigma of on post housing being “dumpy” and “dated.”  Some are old.  Some are dumpy.  But many aren’t.

Many are wonderful, and I’ve had friends tell me their on-post house is much nicer than the one they could afford when they were civilian.  And while you might be able find a better deal off-post, you can also spend WAY more than your BAH off post if you’re not careful.  I think some people are afraid that if they live on-post, they have somehow surrendered themselves to the military completely, and no longer will have a “normal” life.  Well, unfortunately normal went out the window the day your soldier went to Basic!  haha So living far away from post still won’t change anything.  I’ve found that embracing the lifestyle is better than running away from it.

4. I’m Totally Independent

“They can call me a ‘dependent’ but I’m actually super independent and have a life outside the Army.”  You’d be surprised how many people not only live by this creed, but take immense pride in not being “one of us.”  I definitely don’t think there is anything wrong with having a professional career, making a great salary, taking care of a family, staying home with the kids, or having an extremely busy volunteer schedule while married to a soldier.   But the truth is–you can’t reverse the fact that you are the military dependent.  That’s what you legally are.  You are provided for like you’re a dependent.  The military support networks wants to be there for you.  Your soldier gets different considerations/pay simply because of your presence.  No matter how many different ways you try to beat the system or not look like you’re a part of it, at the end of the day you’re a dependent.  Luckily for me, I don’t mind!

5.  Be the Tough Cookie of the Family

It’s true, you have to know who to vent to, and when.  For instance, venting to your spouse in a letter during his first week of Basic Training is a bad idea.  And telling your unsupportive relative that you miss him and are having a hard time coping without him is probably an invitation to a fight.  But, I think a lot of spouses feel the need to bury everything and be the strong one.  But shutting down your feelings when you’re around your soldier for the sake of “protecting him” only builds walls as the years go by.

Of course you don’t want to be that spouse that begs him to get out of the Army every few months.  And you don’t want to throw a stink when it’s time to move, even though you finally made a group of friends.  But still, realize that as a human you are entitled to emotions and in a marriage, it’s fundamentally important to share those with your spouse.  There is no award in the military for “least emotional spouse.”  So yes, while excerising prudence is all part of the military sacrifice, don’t “grin and bear it” for 10+ years or you might be creating an interior bitterness that will only snowball down the road.  Be tough, but don’t take it upon yourself to have “that role” for your family in all situations, for all reasons, for all times.  Sometimes cookies crumble too.  It’s okay.

6. It’s Us vs. Them

I know this is literally the most delicate topic in the military, so I won’t go too into detail here.  I will simply say that I have been on both sides of the fence (my husband served as an enlisted soldier and now as an officer) and I have been treated well and shunned by both sides when I was on the opposite.  However, more importantly, I have been extremely accepted and befriended by women whose husbands were different ranks than mine.

Unfortunately, some wives have a bad experience with another spouse and rank ends up playing an unnecessary role in the blame-game.  And both walk away with a bias against the other “type” of spouse.  But it’s wrong.  And it’s definitely not everywhere.  It is 100% possible to stick with military traditions (observing rank in a work setting, etc.) while still being completely neighborly, professional, and female.  Please don’t let someone’s bad attitude make you distrust an entire “type” of spouse, whether it’s enlisted or officer.  Yes, they have different “roles” in the family team building environment because their husbands have different roles in the workplace.  But treat each spouse you encounter as a new experience–don’t let someone else’s mistakes ruin another’s innocence!  I don’t think the real Army family sees it as Us vs. Them, just certain individuals who don’t want to be part of the family at the end of the day.

7.  I Didn’t Sign Up for This, He Did

Yes, he did!  But we did too.  For better or for worse– that really describes the military in a nutshell!  haha  True, at the end of the day, he wears the rank and you definitely don’t. (see above)  But there is no “washing your hands clean” of the military once he joins.  Remember “normal” going out the window?  There are things expected of you (like spousal positions in the military family team building world).  When he deploys, you go through every. single. day. of. it.  The money you share goes towards new boots, as well as your new heels.  To quote the 15th Cavalry Regiment– All for One, One for all!

8. Wardrobe Sharing is Okay

Not so fast.  This is definitely an opinion thing on my part, and totally a pet peeve thing.  I completely understand the attraction to wearing “his clothes” and feeling cute.  But military uniforms aren’t high school football jerseys.  And while it isn’t likely for a soldier to wear his PTs in combat–it’s still part of “the uniform.”  A uniform that men and women have been buried in.  That have died in.  That died and were buried in that uniform for you.  Please don’t play dress up and wear his clothes.  I can’t think of anything more embarrassing then being out in public like that and to have a mourning veteran ask you to change.  Unless you serve in it, don’t wear it.

9. The Healthcare Stinks

I don’t think I’ve ever, in my entire life, heard of someone complain about the cost of our healthcare.  🙂  You can’t get much better than free! haha  But I have heard people rail on our options, especially our military hospitals, and say how horrible it is to be chained to this kind of healthcare.  Maybe I’m just brainwashed since I’ve only been “off” of military healthcare for 2 months of my life.  But really–it’s not that bad.

I’ve delivered babies in military hospitals, gone to the emergency room, received vaccines, etc.  There is nothing inferior about our hospitals or options.  If there is some kind of proceeding needing to be done that can’t be done at our hospitals, we simply receive a referral to go off-post for that issue.  Like, really– military hospitals are great.  I can’t speak for every doctor, and certainly not every staff member (because yes I have met horrible ones)…but that kind of variety of poor to absolutely excellent exists in any large hospital.  In short, our healthcare doesn’t stink.

10. Our Families are Strict, Punctual, and Disciplined

Let me put it to you this way– a toddler is a toddler.  Army brat toddlers aren’t any better at speaking softly or not breaking things than their civilian counterparts.  They certainly don’t listen better, inherently.  I think the stigma comes from the fact that adults with military bearing often expect the same thing from their children.  And that can be true in lots of families.  I’ve definitely seen “squared away families.”  But it’s not always the case.  I remember my college friends being shocked that I was always “the late one” even though I was the Army brat.  Some of my fellow military friends “discipline” their children with gentle reminders and soft voices.   Even if we wish we were punctual and on top of things, some military families just aren’t.   My husband is the soldier, we are his happy dependents, and my toddler is still a toddler.  She still colors on walls…it’s just that her crayon is Army Green. 🙂

 

*Read next: 10 Things I Learned During Our First “Real” PCS*

Continue Reading

Military Love: Maximize Your Military Love Life

 

Military Love: Maximize Your Military Love Life

 

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, today’s post is all about love.  Particularly, ways to maximize your love life while living the military lifestyle.  Because loving in the military life sometimes looks different than loving in the outside world.  It’s beautiful in it’s own kind of way.  Military love is so often criticized or pitied because of the hardships that come with our lifestyle– but there are more than enough ways to make up for the hardships!

 

Take Advantage Of Discovery

I think the role of “discovery” is a big reason behind the butterflies you got when you first met.  Falling in love with someone is all about discovering a person who makes you feel loved, and learning how to love them back.  Usually along the way, you discover a whole new side of yourself.  It’s the “complete you” versus the “incomplete you.”

Luckily for us military couples, this lifestyle affords a lifetime of discovery.  Chances are you grew up in one hometown, and chances are you don’t live there anymore.  Try to embrace and discover your new surroundings.  In the military, you will travel to places you have never been, and live in places you probably would have never picked on your own (ahem, Ft. Stewart).  Not every assignment is a grand OCONUS duty station, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore your posts’ backyard.  There are still adventures to be had and memories to be made.  Even in DeRidder.

Of course there is emotional discovery along the way too: learning just how much you can really miss each other, and just how good homecoming feels like.  Take advantage of that.  Even if you’re not a touchy-feely person, allow yourself to experience new emotions and embrace them.  Learn to miss each other in a healthy way.  Practice sacrificing things for each other with love as your motive, not necessity.  Discover a newness in yourself, as your situation changes throughout your dynamic military life.

Practical Application:  Google “Top 10 Most Romantic Things to Do” in your current city today.  Make plans to try one or two of them out.

 

Use Your Weekends Wisely

Anyone who has had a soldier go through weeks of training can attest to the fact that 2-days weekends are often “catch up” days.  All 48 hours become devoted to getting real sleep and real food, as well as stocking up for the next leg of training.  It’s hard to turn those weekends into a mini-vacation.  But it’s also hard if you’ve been the one on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to go out on some real dates together, only to have the weekends blow by anonymously. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to veg out, or “get stuff done” but your love life does require some together-time.  Luckily for us military couples, there’s a little something called extended-weekends.

I can’t think of many full-time jobs that offer so many 3 and 4 day weekends as the military does.  You can maximize your military love life by using these weekends to your advantage.  Make plans for them.  You don’t have to do something big every time a 3/4-day weekend pops up, but if you have a DONSA coming up, go into the nearest city overnight.   Make those long weekends your “date” weekends, if the 2-day ones are just too short.  Bank on your 4-day weekends as an untouchable period of together time, and then enjoy them together.

Practical Application:  When is your next 3 or 4 day weekend?  Find out and make 1 concrete date plan.  You can look up your installation’s MWR site and find discounted tickets for date ideas.  (MCCS for Marines, and AFSVA for Air Force).

 

Go Old-School

Many careers have away-from-home stints, but none are quite like the military.  Civilian couples don’t get separated for months on end the way military do, and when they do, phone calls and texting opportunities abound.  Military couples, on the other hand, feel like they got lucky if they hear from each other once a day during a deployment.  During field training, we don’t even expect to have contact.  Spouses go for weeks without communication at some schools like Basic Training.  You can look at this as unfair, or you can get creative and go old-school.

If you’ve never sent letters to each other–do it.  There’s something about holding the physical paper in your hand that makes it more romantic than emails.  Bouquets are also vogue and extremely romantic.  Even if you’re not together on a special day (see above), order flowers and have them delivered to your girl’s doorstep!  Care packages aren’t just a thing in movies.  Soldiers love receiving a care package (even if they have access to stores while on TDY).  It’s just the feeling of opening a gift packed tight with treats and love that makes those packages so significant.  These old traditions were commonly-used romantic actions for a reason!

Sweetheart gestures are also a very effective way at emphasizing your love despite the challenges of the military.  While his & her tattoos are the modern version of this, don’t be afraid of the old-school “promise ring.”  Wearing a token that means “I’ll be back” is significantly strengthening.  Engraved necklaces or bracelet pendants with his location’s coordinates are meaningful tokens that will provide much needed comfort on those difficult days.  Don’t feel cheesy for sleeping with his dog tags under your pillow, or carrying her picture in your chest pocket.  These little romantic gestures are habits that have been practiced by countless US military couples before us.  Trust those who have tread our path before us!

Practical Application:  Write a hand-written note today and save it for tomorrow.  Leave it on the steering wheel, in the lunch box, or taped to the mirror to set the tone for the day.  If you are separated right now, pop it in the mail tomorrow.

 

Ignore the Dates on the Calendar

It’s only natural to want to spend holidays together, and the military can be pretty good at making sure that happens.  With the exception of your birthday.  His birthday.  Your anniversary.  And if you put too much stock in the actual date circled on the calendar, rather than the meaning behind it, you may become disappointed during your military life.  You’ll feel like you’re missing out.  Like your love life is somehow being robbed of monumental days.

But you can maximize your military love life but not being robbed of any romantic landmarks.  Celebrate those days on a different date.  If you know you won’t be together on a certain holiday, celebrate before or after the “actual” date.  It’s better to celebrate your anniversary a week early than not at all.  Don’t be the girl who has to “skip” St. Valentine’s Day.  Being in the military doesn’t mean you have to skip anything.  You just have to be flexible.

Practical Application: Let go of the memory you are harboring of that missed holiday.  You have this year to make it right.  And if you won’t be able to celebrate that same holiday together in 2018 (it took 4 years before we actually spent a Halloween together), then make plans to celebrate it early or late together.  This year can be more celebratory than last year, if you make it a choice!

 

*

There are ample opportunities to maximize your military love life–you just have to know where to look.  Take those 4-day weekends…explore your surroundings together.  Be flexible, and make memories you can treasure forever.  There’s a reason that people say that military couples are some of the strongest ones in the world.  Because if it wasn’t possible, there  wouldn’t be so many of us doing it.  You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but that’s because it’s actually true: “Distance does to love what wind does to fire. It extinguishes the weak and feeds the strong.”

Thanks for stopping by.  If you have any romance tips to maximize your military love life, please share in the comment sections below.  We’re all going through this together. <3

 

This post contains romantic yet affiliate links.

Continue Reading

Army Basic Training: Phone Call Rules

 

Phone Calls during Army Basic Training + Cell Phones at Army Basic Training

 

I remember as a kid riding past one of the Basic training areas on Ft. Knox (back when there was a bootcamp there) and seeing lines of soldiers standing at a series of pay phones.  It was a moving image of just how much the soldiers wanted to check in with home.  They would stand and stand and stand until they got the chance to say hello–to hear a loved one’s voice.  I’ll always remember that picture of love.

Fast-forward 10 years later and my husband became one of those soldiers in need of a chance to use the phone.  But in the world of cell phones, long lines of pay phones aren’t really necessary at Basic Training.  (Fun fact: I do see phone stations on post still…But they’re always empty).

A quick disclaimer: policies stated in this post can vary depending upon the platoon, as cell phone usage is completely dependent upon the Drill Sergents’ discretion in each platoon.  So anything you see here regarding the frequency of calls is DEFINITELY subject to change.

Cell Phones At Drop-off

First off– when you drop your future soldier off with the recruiter, leave his phone with him.  You might have heard “he can’t have his phone at Basic” or he can’t have it when he processes.  True, he can’t use it.  But he can bring it with him.  So definitely encourage him to take it.  His phone will not get confiscated and thrown away.  It will definitely get taken, but it will be held safe and secure until he is allowed to use it.  SEND IT WITH HIM.

When he lands in the airport (if he flew), he might be allowed to call you.  This is the infamous 30-second phone call you might have heard about.  It’s just a chance for him to tell you he is okay and just landed.  It’s a nice call to get.

Cell Phones At In-Processesing

Almost nobody talks about in-procesesing.  In fact, I feel like I need to write a whole post on it.  But basically, before your soldier begins his 10 or 14 or 16 weeks of boot camp, he has to process into the Army.  For OSUT guys, for instance, this takes 7-10 days.  This is the point that his cell phone will be turned in and stored away.  He won’t get to use it here, but they will give it back to him when he leaves for his official Basic Training area.

Cell Phones At Basic Training

The first day of Basic Training, he will once again turn his phone in.  The phones are kept locked up with the Drill Sergeants.  They aren’t stored in a huge mass pile in a warehouse where your soldier will never see it again (thank goodness).  It’s definitely not like having an item confiscated in an airport, never to be seen again.  The Drill Sergeants keep a labeled crate of each platoon’s phones and chargers, and they bring them out at the same time when soldiers are given the chance to use them.  Don’t worry about the safety of his phone–it won’t get stolen or lost.

Phone Call Frequency

The first three weeks of Basic Training (Red Phase) are the most strict.  While it is extremely unlikely that your soldier will be allowed to call during this time, it is still possible.  And onward from Red Phase, the likelihood of your soldier being able to call is increased.  It is all according to the discretion of the Drill Sergeants.  They feel under no obligation to let the soldiers call (unlike mail call, which is a regular occurrence), but they might use it as a morale booster or reward for excellent training.

During training, platoons will sometimes earn a perk for finishing the best, and often that reward is a phone call.  Sometimes too, the Drill Sergeants are feeling nice and will give the soldiers their phones for a bit on Sunday, to make calls.  This is why its KEY for your soldier to have brought his phone.  If he doesn’t have it, he will have to ask one of his buddies to share their phone.  And while a good battle buddy might do that, both soldiers will get significantly less time to talk on the phone!

Again, phone call frequency varies IMMENSELY depending on the Drill Sergeants, and even the Company’s SOP.  While one platoon might get to have their cell phones 4 times during Basic Training, another platoon might only win 1 phone call, and never be given another opportunity to call besides that.  It is all completely dependent upon a variety of facts that change throughout the training year (and with each Drill Sergeant).   I have heard of spouses getting as many as 8 calls, while others received as little as 2.

Phone Call Length

You probably already have guessed this, but phone call length varies enormously as well (especially if your soldier is sharing a phone!)  My shortest call was the 30-second one, and my longest was 3 hours.  It just depends one when/why your soldier gets to call you.

Sometimes the soldiers are given their phones to make calls at the end of the night, and they don’t have to be turned back in until training the next morning.  This is rare, but it is really, really nice when it does happen.  Nothing is better than an all-night phone call!  But if this never happens to you, don’t feel bad.   Any call and every call is amazing.  Length doesn’t matter once you hear their voice on the phone!!

Phone Call Privacy

Contrary to popular belief, the Drill Sergeants will not stand over the soldiers and listen to their phone calls.  All calls are conducted in the bay (barracks) where the soldiers sleep.  So while there isn’t total privacy, since your soldier will be surrounded by his entire platoon, he will at least have privacy from his Drill Sergeants.  And to be honest, the other soldiers won’t be sitting there listening to each other’s calls–they will be too busy making there own!

The same goes for texting–the Drill Sergeants will not stand over the soldiers and read all their texts.  If your soldier gets the chance to text or call you, rest assured that both of you will be able to carry on a normal conversation.  Talking in a busy bay might not be the best setting for a phone call, but it beats sitting in a phone booth with a line of 20 people behind you!

Final Takeaways

  • Phone calls from Basic Training are completely inconsistent, unpredictable, and amazing.
  • Soldiers–TAKE YOUR PHONE to Basic Training.  You’ll want it.
  • Loved Ones–ANSWER EVERY CALL YOU GET.  Answering unknown numbers is scary.  But missing a call from your soldier is worse.

Hopefully you found some answers here regarding phone calls and cell phones at Army Basic Training.  If you’re wondering about something I might have missed, please ask in the comment section below!  As always, thank you for stopping by.  Come back soon!

 

~Read next:~Army Basic Training: Letter Writing Myths~

Continue Reading

An Open Letter to the Girl that Just Said Goodbye to her Future Soldier

It was the hardest hug we ever had.

I know we hugged, I’m sure we kissed, but the entire goodbye was so shaking that it was an instantaneous blur.  The moment his arms slid off me, my heart crumbled into a million pieces.  I got back in the car and watched him walk away for Basic Training Camp.  I burst into tears and sobbed harder than I have ever cried.  We had only been married for three weeks.

I don’t feel the need to share this with you because I think I’m the only one and somehow my story might make a dramatic impression on your mind.  I feel like I need to share this because I know that I’m not the only one.  I’m one of the thousands of girls every year that had a goodbye.  A really, really hard one.  One that American girls have been doing since 1775.  Your man is going off to be a soldier.  And though you want to be that proud Army-strong girl– in that goodbye moment–you are simply just his girl.  And it hurts to let go of that hug.  Because it hurts to let go of him.

Some of you have asked me if it gets better.  I can honestly say yes and no.  Missing him never goes away.  Loving him never changes.  Feeling like your world isn’t right when he’s not there will continue on, throughout this separation and into the next one.  But what does change is you.

It’s hard to believe that, because he’s gone and you’re still the same person that he left behind.  Or are you?  I bet that you didn’t know that it would feel quite like this.  And in examining that, you’re learning more about yourself.  About your emotions–maybe even an emotional side of you that you’ve never discovered before.  And learning to face them is definitely an exercise in change. You might have tried to distract yourself with something–and that’s developing a new skill or interest in you.  It doesn’t have to be a new crazy activity like skydiving.  Even just picking up extra hours on your shift to pass the time by is you doing something different.  It’s YOU changing.

The thing is, we all know that we can’t change our soldier’s situation.  He can’t accelerate through Basic and come home early.  He can’t stop training and come home for our birthday.  And no matter how much we wish he could, he can’t just pick up the phone for a goodnight check-in.  But we can change our situation.  And like I said above, a lot of times we change our situation (or ourselves) without realizing it.

The first night home alone, I cried myself to sleep.  And I’m not going to pretend it was the only time I cried while he was gone.  But I will say, I didn’t cry myself to sleep every night.  And it’s not because I stopped missing him.  It’s because my heart started learning how to cope.  It’s almost as if my heart got stretched, all the way from Virginia (where I was) to Georgia (where he was).  At first, it hurt terribly.  My heart was so, so sore from the stretching.  But over time, it became limber.  I began to feel how flexible my heart was.  How I could indeed be sad, but how I could also spend many days happy.

The easy days didn’t come automatically, and they didn’t come early on after he left.  But eventually, a few weeks in, I was able to begin making my peace with our situation.  I could either fight within myself for all 16 weeks and feel gutted, lonely, and crushed.  Or I could begin to become the Army-strong girl I always pictured myself being.  I had to do this, because I knew that he would walk out of Basic Training camp with 16 weeks of change in his heart and on his shoulders.  I didn’t want him to be the only one that grew.  I wanted to change with him.

I think I want to share a post about all ways I learned to change, and things I did to help my heart cope with the cure. But for now I at least want to say that, to the girl who just said goodbye to your future soldier: thank you.  Because people will stop your soldier throughout his service and thank him.  And they should.  But almost nobody will thank you, and you’re the loving force behind his service. I’m not making that up either.  Your soldier will tell you that he couldn’t have done this without your support.  And he really means it.  His leadership will also tell you that.  They always do, and they always mean it.

I’ve always felt this about us Army-girls: “Behind every great man is a great woman.” And I think any soldier would tell you that’s true. So let’s be gentle with ourselves, right now, while we’re hurting.  But let us take comfort in the fact that one day, our hearts will learn to stretch.  We will grow and change and somehow learn to cope along the way.  Because this is only the beginning of our journey in supporting a great man, for our great country.  And we can really, truly do this.

~~ Now go get your pens and start writing him a letter! ~~

 

Read next: The 5 Secretes I Learned to Nailing Army Basic Training Letters

Continue Reading

Military Wife Must-Haves

 

Military Wife Must-Haves

I’m sure everyone has their go-to’s when it comes to kitchenware, beauty, fashion, etc.  I definitely have a running list in each category!  Kitchenaid ANYTHING for starters.  But then there are those things that don’t necessarily fit under the same category (or any) but tend to share one common theme: they are must-haves if you’re a military spouse.  Some of these have been gifted to me, some I have bought for other, and some I have bought for myself!  They are either “necessities” for getting through the military lifestyle we live, or they are the perfect way to embrace and celebrate it.  Do you have any of these?

 

1. Address Book

It’s no secret I’m a firm believer in stationary, especially as an Army wife.  But this one isn’t actually meant for all those Basic Training love letters you write.  I have found that the frequent moves (both of our family and our military friends) has created a great need for change-of-address organization.  I think the Kate Spade address book is a cute and classy way to do it.  However, there is a pretty cheeky address book that leaves room for nicknames and shoe sizes.  And then of course there is a classic and more tame little pink book version.  Take your pick and fill it up!

 

2. Push-pin Travel Map

Speaking of moving around, you will probably fill up one of these too!  A push-pin map of the USA not only gives you a visual reality-check on just how many times you’ve set up a home somewhere, but it also is a great way to document your lifetime of travel.  If you want to go all-out (or if you are lucky enough to live overseas) a push-pin map of the world is also a beautiful career display.

 

3.  American Flag

I feel like this is the initiation gift that every military wife should receive, or gift to her husband!  It’s the perfect salute and symbol of what your family stands for.  Fly it proudly outside your home!  And if you have an apartment and no balcony (like my first 2 years of our marriage), then hang it as a wall tapestry behind your couch or in your dining room.  It’s still a beautiful way to celebrate your lifestyle and the country we are all so proud of.  A final option, though it’s a little less visible, is to invest in a glass flag case and keep your folded flag displayed in it.  A very classic, very respectful display of the flag!  If you want the whole flagpole kit, and not just the flag, this is all you need.

 

4. The Army Wife Handbook: A Complete Social Guide

For all my Army girls out there!  There is a complete set of “social rules” and expectations that come with the territory of being an Army wife.  And navigating through those can be tough!  This guide is geared towards etiquette and social obligations, which I find to be one of the least “discussed” topics among Army wife literature.  It’s not really a crash-course about acronyms and what to expect on deployments, which is what this book covers.  But the social rules can be really tough to “pick up” naturally, and having a guidebook is extremely helpful.

 

5. The 5 Love Languages ~ Military Edition

I’m not saying this because I’m a love-book junkie (thought I am), I’m saying this because every military relationship deserves a book celebrating and coaching the tumultuously beautiful journey of a military romance.  I have great respect for Gary Chapman’s interpretation of love languages and how they are spoken.  Even if you’re not a military couple, a firm understanding of how to identify your preferred language, and how to speak your spouses’s is extremely important.  The love languages are a true eye-opener in any relationship, but most significantly in a romantic one.  Curious what your love language is?  Take the test here.  (Then buy the book and learn about how you give and receive love based on it!)

6. His and Hers Silicone Wedding Bands

These are often more necessary for the military member than the spouse.  But for those of us that like having matching wedding bands, or who want to feel a special connection, getting a his and hers set is the way to go!  Wearing a metal wedding ring during training can sometimes be dangerous for your soldier (if he is paratrooper jumping out of an airplane, etc) and other times it can just be painful (pull-ups during PT).  Having a silicone option can be useful for your soldier to slip on before a training exercise, or before he leaves for an Army school if he worries about losing his real ring.  During those times, it can sometimes be nice to switch rings with him, not because you have to, but because he does.

7. Military Wife Jewelry

This one is pretty basic.  It’s like having a tee that supports your favorite sports team.  Everyone should have at least one.  Even if you’re not the kind of jewelry-wearer who wants a black and gold charm bracelet that says “Army” in capital letters, you can still have military-themed jewelry that supports your lifestyle.  (Like this Morse Code bracelet).  One of my favorite ways to connect with my soldier when he is gone is to wear a meaningful necklace or ring that reminds me of him.  When he went to Basic/OSUT in Ft. Benning, I wore a Georgia shaped ring every day.  Other times, even when he is home, I often wear sapphires, as their “Infantry Blue” color celebrates the lifestyle we have chosen together.  Get creative with the meanings and treat yourself to some bling!

8. Amazon Home Services

Not a traditional must-have, but I put on because WHO hasn’t had their fridge break an hour or two after their soldier leaves for a few weeks? *raises hands*  My internet goes out when he is gone, computers crash, and of course some kind natural disaster occurs (Hurricane striking the NIGHT that he leaves).  #myreallife.  Anyway, Amazon can’t control the weather, but they CAN and DO offer home services.  Meaning no matter where you live in the US, you can have someone come over and fix your problem when your soldier isn’t home to do so.  Seriously, they have tons of services: from mounting TVs to painting the baby nursery to ASSEMBLING FURNITURE.  Basically, they’re the magic fairies we always hoped would exist.  Now they do.  Click here to browse their services!

I feel like there are a million military wife must-haves…haha…but that’s really not true.  The only thing I must have is my soldier by my side!  And of course my babies.  And my faith.  Okay, so there are a few biggies.  But the small things can be really fun too, and can make the military wife life a lot easier!  What is a must-have for you?  Leave a comment below, sharing your faves!  Thanks for stopping by, and come back soon.

*Note: the links I provided are affiliate links*

Read next: My Favorite Stationary Supplies for Writing to My Soldier

Continue Reading