Great Question!

This post is the result of a great question posed to me this week while being prepped for an interview. While I’m pleased with my base reply, I encourage everyone to think of their own answers and share them here. The question is about how you make your military life easier for you. We’d all like to know your thoughts and hope that by sharing we can learn from each other.

The question ::
What are three things a military family can do right now to make their life easier (maybe one for the Service member, one for the spouse, and one for the kids)?

The “answers” ::
Maintain “Readiness”
You know you’re a Service Member when …
You always back into parking spaces or each page of your vacation atlas has two routes marked. 

Service members are trained to be “ready.” Or maybe more than that, like one Service’s slogan says, they’re Born Ready! The member’s job is to be Always Ready! Initially that translates to mission readiness and physical fitness. But as a Service member gains maturity—perhaps grows their family—that includes financial readiness and family readiness, spiritual and psychological readiness, and employment readiness for their eventual transition out of the military.

The programs are there: programs such as the one coauthor Kathie Hightower blogged about recently, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (#167). Financial Readiness programs are offered on post with Family Services or off post ones are often offered free for the military like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (#553) or Consumer Credit Counseling Services. There are important “family readiness” avenues available as well.

Being ready means knowing your personal obstacles and family habits and working to minimize the difficulties that arise operationally and logistically. Start with one program in an area where you feel least ready and learn about strategies and contingency plans to “get ready!”

You know you’re a military spouse when …
You just spent your second wedding anniversary in a row alone.

You have a Service member you love and a reason why you’re connected to this military life. Unfortunately you’re apart a lot and so in creeps loneliness. But, it doesn’t have to be that way and you can shift your focus.

We want those who feel destitute of companionship and support to hear this, “You are not alone.” Neighbors, co-workers, family members, church goers, children, veteran wives, support organizations, people you don’t even know yet stand ready to support you and are looking for companionship too. Let them fill the void while your spouse is gone or become a pleasant diversion when they are here and you need a “spouses’ night out.”

If your “new home” is intimidating initially remember to stay connected and encouraged by the friends you made at a previous installation. #413 reminds us to stay connected to friends across the globe. Skyping is not just for deployments. Keep up with everyone virtually by e-mails and websites and use those connections to network. You may not know someone at your new duty station but if you’re connected where you came from odds are you know someone who knows someone, who knows someone you can connect with.

Be encouraged that once you get past the hard part and start talking you will find #465 in effect : The instant connection you feel with other military families.

You know you are a military brat when …
You have to tell your math teacher the last school was teaching subtraction, the new school was on division, and you missed multiplication.

Children say the darnedest things. Like the other day when my son said that military children had it easy. What!? I had to ask and learn more. He talked about all his wonderful experiences and how strong we are as a family. How we have a purpose and great connections. It was a proud moment and one my husband and I have worked very hard to achieve.

We were just coming off of a weekend where we spent time with a longtime military family who are very dear friends. They’ve retired and we had to visit so they could “kid sit” my brats while I was out connecting with military spouses. I think my son saw how they are always there for us and how we always have someone to turn to while we experience this amazing life. That’s what it sounded like to me. That moment came at the price of many moments before, many tears and arguments about why we have to move and why we have to say good-bye to friends or even daddy once again.

I attribute this single success (there will be others and more failures to be sure) to communication. We have always asked age-appropriate questions about our children’s feelings and have always allowed them to express their discontent.  Military children’s books (#528) are great resources as well as the National Military Family Associations Purple camps (#610). These resources give our children the tools they need to communicate their triumphs and their fears about this military life.

They are just a couple of the many many resources out there to help make our military life easier. You are your children’s greatest resource. Be their advocate and example when it comes to navigating this life.

As I said, these are “answers.” We’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes your military life easier for you. We also stand ready to hear your challenges. Our book arms you with resources to curb the difficulties and all four of us authors love to brainstorm and strategize so you too can LOVE this LIFE! Comment here or connect with us  anytime.

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