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This post may seem “contradictory” if you read my previous posts about how we were blindsided by our surprise PCS (move) this summer and how I felt devastated by it, but since that time, I’ve grown to accept it. In fact, my husband and I chose together that we would do the move. Andy’s enlistment is up next summer, and after speaking with HRC and USAREC, he could sign a “dec” statement to leave the school house and finish his term here at Knox instead of re-enlisting and being “forced” to do Recruiting (since he was DA-selected for Recruiting duty instead of volunteering for it.) It was an option we STRONGLY considered. We could still stay in Kentucky, and in fact, my husband could work in Louisville (45 minutes up the road from Knox) as a civilian employee in the same field as his MOS– same job, in fact– and make twice as much money as he does now. We could be near my family and friends; heck, we could even still continue to live on post since Knox housing is open to civilians. But we decided together as a team to forego that route; as a team to embrace the changes ahead. In fact, I’m actually getting excited for this new adventure!
This newfound optimism is thanks to the friends and family who reminded me of the blessings in store, especially my church friends. Fellow military wives and sisters in Christ who have walked the road that I’m on, who know exactly what struggles we face, yet they still have hope. I’m am so thankful God placed them in my life to change my perspective and thankful for a God who can change stubborn hearts like mine. As the Casting Crowns song goes, “I will praise You in this storm.” Even through the pain of saying “goodbye”, I can still see the goodness He has in store on the path ahead.
That being said, I completely understand if not everyone can stomach this post. If you’re struggling right now, it may sting to read these words. I completely understand. Truth be told, as I adjusted to the news that rocked my world, I couldn’t read a single military-related blog or social media post. If your heart hurts, I’ll be praying for you. It is my hope that the below list of what I am grateful for in this tough lifestyle will remind you of the blessings in your own life.
I may be a newlywed military wife, but I believe that like life, this military journey is what you make of it, and I intend to have the most positive outlook possible. Sure, it’s not always easy and it can be down right sucky at times (nobody wants to live without their husband for months on end and I certainly wasn’t thrilled about our surprise move at first, but am embracing it), but overall Andy and I are very grateful for the military and have discussed this a lot with his re-enlistment coming up much sooner than we had planned. In fact, even with all the “suck”, I have told Andy on multiple occasions that I want us to stay a military family for as long as possible unless he were medically retired or he himself decided the military was no longer for him.
I’m thankful to be a military spouse because…
-We have a (nice!) roof over our heads that we would never be able to afford otherwise. In the civilian world, we would have a 1 bedroom apartment, but on post we have a 3 bed, 2 bath single-family home with a garage
-We have food on our table
-We’ve made new friends here at Knox and have old friends from Polk. The bonds of these friendships are incredibly strong and will last through distance and time
-We can easily pay our bills on Andy’s salary alone and have enough left over for luxuries like cell phones and internet (yes, those are luxuries, not necessities!) and even have a little bit of money for travel
-There is an opportunity an opportunity for Andy to attend college for free through tuition assistance or the GI Bill, or me to go back to school on his GI Bill. Or, if I pay out of pocket for a degree, many schools offer military spouse discounts
-We get to live in and see places we would never otherwise see, even if those places are rural Louisiana!
-We have good healthcare that doesn’t cost a ton, which I am very thankful for since I have been so sick lately! In fact, in the 9 months I’ve been a military spouse, I’ve visited the doctor more than ever yet have no out of pocket expenses, minus a co-pay for filling prescriptions at a civilian pharmacy on Christmas Eve
-Our housing and food allowances are non-taxable– I don’t know of any other job that would house your family and feed you in addition to paying you regular pay (let’s be honest, the food allowance is so generous it feeds me too even though Andy eats all the food all the time.)
-If Andy and I were to have a financial emergency that we couldn’t cover through our emergency fund, we could utilize the Army Emergency Relief program for a grant or loan. And unlike loans in the civilian financial world, AER loans are interest and fee-free
-When they’re not in training or deployed, many units receive 3 or 4 day weekends on a regular basis– usually at least one a month. In December and January alone, there was at least 4. And in the last half of December, Andy’s unit went to half days of work yet Andy still received his full pay (which is why Andy prefers to avoid taking holiday block leave if he can… it’s like having extra days off!)
Most importantly, Andy and I would have never met if he wasn’t stationed in Louisiana. When he lived on the ranch in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada (prior to enlisting) he didn’t even own a cell phone, let alone did online dating!
Regardless of how and when “our” military journey ends, I know we will both be grateful for his time serving his country and the opportunities and blessings it has given us.
What blessings in your life are you grateful for?