Hi friends! Thanks for joining Melissa from Loving Life Moore and me for this second edition of the Military Minute linkup! This month’s prompt is:
What would you consider to be your most and least favorite parts of military life?
My favorite parts of military life:
Traveling to new places
I’ve always enjoyed traveling, but military life has only amplified that feeling! Right now, we are stationed in rural Iowa. Although we have no desire to live here long-term, we’re using this 36-month assignment as an opportunity to see an area of the country that we otherwise wouldn’t travel to. We’ve made frequent trips to Minneapolis, Minnesota, spent New Year’s in Chicago, and visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthplace in Pepin, Wisconsin (which had been on my bucket list since I was a child!). I’ve even surprised myself with how much I enjoyed visiting South Dakota and Omaha, Nebraska (which I have yet to blog about!)
The “benefits package”
This is definitely the Human Resources nerd or the Recruiter’s wife in me, but my appreciation for the benefits package that comes along with military life cannot be understated. We don’t have to worry about health insurance costs, because we have Tricare Prime. We don’t have to worry about housing costs, because we have a housing allowance. My husband’s food allowance is enough to buy groceries for our whole family. The housing and food allowances are non-taxable, which saves us money every year come tax time. My husband and I both have affordable life insurance through the military. We can use military discounts for shopping, traveling, and even our car insurance. No, we may not be millionaires, but we know that our basic needs are met.
A fresh start every few years
This sounds a little silly to someone who, in reality, hates change… But have you ever had the desire to pack up your entire life and start over? I know I certainly have! Well, moving every few years gives me that chance! 😉
The GI Bill and Tuition Assistance
Technically this is another part of the “benefits package” of military service, but education is so important to me that I had to list it separately. Many of you know I took out student loans for my first Bachelor’s degree, and while I don’t regret that degree, it was incredibly difficult to pay those loans back. I did it, but many of my peers are not so fortunate. When I initially decided I wanted to make a career change and jump back into the Human Resources field, I dreaded the thought of paying for college again. Thankfully, my sweet husband gave me his GI Bill, which I will be using for my second Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree. My husband has also pursued his education for free through the use of active-duty tuition assistance.
Experiencing marriage without our families nearby
As difficult as it is away from our families, I’m honestly grateful for the experience because it’s forced Andy and me to grow closer as a couple. When we were stationed in my home state of Kentucky, it was so easy and tempting to run away from our problems by seeking out my family, but it wasn’t a solution. Andy and I are a family, and our family comes first. Living away from my extended family has forced us to rely solely on each other.
Oh man, the friendships I’ve formed in the past few years of military wife life are some of the strongest bonds I will ever have. Sweet friends who will travel hours to attend a baby shower despite not seeing them in two years. Friends who will sit with you in the messiness of life. These friendships I’ve made in military life are unlike those I’ve made in the civilian world. Is it hard to make new friends? Absolutely. But it is so worth it.
Least favorite parts of military life:
Being apart from our families
Now that I’m expecting my first child, I’ve had to accept that our children will not grow up in the same hometown as their extended family. They won’t spend every weekend at their grandparents and every holiday with aunts and uncles and cousins like I did. Although he didn’t grow up a “military brat,” Andy’s family moved across the US every few years; his childhood gave him experiences that I, having grown up in the same town my entire life, did not have. Yes, while Baby C might live hours from relatives, he or she will have another family in this military community.
Being apart from my husband
This is going to sound so incredibly sappy, but my husband is my best friend. Being with him is such a joy. So when he is away for military obligations, it’s difficult, and I miss him so much. But when he returns home, that homecoming is so, so sweet.
Living in locations that I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise
Sometimes the military stations us in places that we would never visit otherwise; it’s no secret that we’re currently stationed in one of those locations right now 😉 Living in a subculture different than my own has given me a new appreciation for my home state.