"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What You Wish You Would Have Known

C's FRG is putting together a Newcomers Packet for both newlyweds and those spouses new to the Army in general. 

Yes, I KNOW that ACS and such offer information and that every post does a newcomers brief. My husband gave me the bag he received that the newcomers brief when he got here. The map wasn't accurate, the pamphlets were overwhelming. It was a bunch of info put into a yellow bag that wasn't welcoming. 

What we are looking to put together is the advice you wish someone had told you - or maybe someone did. The little things that spouses tell each other to give little pointers. The things you would have NO CLUE about when you arrive at your first duty station. 

It is very much my belief that the reason so many military marriages fail is because the new spouses feel lost, or alone, or like they are "doing something wrong." They take it out on their spouses, their spouses don't understand why they "just don't know" and everything crumbles. When a person has NO IDEA how to answer when someone asks what unit their spouse belongs to they are embarrassed, feel like they are doing something wrong. I strongly believe that knowledge is power. That knowing the little things in this life - that we take for granted after a year or two in it - like knowing how much you need that ID card, and you should only enter the commissary on pay day at your own risk, and when your husband says he has a dining-in to attend you won't see him that evening - knowing the customs and the "rules" (spoken and unspoken) can help us to thrive.

I don't think we should enable spouses. I don't think we should hand them every little thing in the Army world and do it for them. But don't you wish someone had put in a single, small binder - not in a stack of multiple pamphlets and brochures and paper stacks - but in ONE place the basics you need to know when you enter into the Army? 

I think by knowing the spouses in your unit, letting them know you, just having the contact does more than most realize. Maybe giving a new spouse a tour of post if you can find a moment. Letting them know which entrance of the hospital is better for whichever clinic so they don't maneuver that double stroller through a tri-level parking area just to find out they have to go to the complete other end and that if they had parked on the other (single-level) side, through that OTHER entrance they wouldn't have gone through the hassle, the stress.

It's the little things, understanding the ranks, knowing what the bajillion acronyms mean (at least the critical ones), understanding just what your spouse DOES, can mean the world for that new spouse.

So what do you wish you had known? What moments would having a certain simple piece of info that you know now but didn't know then have changed things for the positive? What did a seasoned spouse tell you that really helped you out? What do you wish you would have known when you entered into this life?

Your can help many of the newbies out there. Even if it is just one ... that one spouse helps another, and then another, and another. It keeps going, gets stronger.

Maybe you never just help one.

So ... what do you wish you would have known?


  1. Be open to making friends in the most unlikely of places. Your friends become your family. You will need eachother.

  2. When I signed for my first onpost housing I had ZERO furniture...and for one reason or another being a soldier and wife at the time I had no clue of the loan closet. So the loan closet would have been a nice thing to know. They offer temporary household item...from cookware to beds.

  3. I'm not a spouse at this time, but I think something like that would be immensely helpful! I'll be sure to store this in the back of my mind if/when I become as spouse.

  4. I had the benefit of being with my hubby from the day he left for bootcamp on - some 19 years later. I think somethings that would be helpful to know would be:

    1) It does get easier as you go. It's that first year of trying to make sense of everything...it is so overwhelming!

    2) View this as the ulitmate adventure. I firmly believe that it takes a certain type of person to be a successful milspouse: open to change and flux, independent, strong, etc. If these qualities are not yours by nature, try to cultivate them. Open yourself up to new experiences and people.

    3) Go out of your way to learn and embrace the way the military works. For better or worse, things are the way they are. There are reasons why your spouse cannot come home for lunch everyday - even if your friens' spouses CAN. Pick your rate, pick your fate IS a reality.

    SO many more things - but, it can be a great life! Just embrace it!

  5. I wish I had known more of how to deal with Tricare. (Actually, I constantly wish I knew more about it!)

    Even though my husband's been in for five years, I've only been in since we got married in April. I constantly feel overwhelmed by how much I don't know! If a "regular person" asks me a question I can usually answer it, but if a military person asks me a questions like "is Christopher part of such and such branch under First Sergeant so and so" I'm usually lost. Then I'm embarrassed because I'd don't the answer about my own husband. THEN I ask Christopher for the answer and try to use it as an opportunity to learn more about the military. After all, we're in it for the long haul and I like to be informed!

  6. When you DO find out, let me know. I hope that when I move up with my soldier, there will be people ready with open arms. I'm nervous about moving up there with no support system and to I town I hardly know how to get around in. I'd like to have a list of places to shop/eat on post, different churches on post or in the area, and key terms to learn. It is all so much to take in!

  7. You have a LOAN CLOSET? Sigh. Can I have a pamflet to see what kinds of things we could start offering here? Actually, I'm serious. Once you make one, can I have one here?? :)

  8. Cate, I can definitely give you a list of places to eat and shop!! I know those two well. My house is also open, too! :)


  9. Oh, and Megan something that sounds so "elementary" is telling new spouses how to tell/read time in Army lingo. That was so confusing for me at first! I would also say not to be scared to ask things. I was (and still am sometimes) scared to look silly by asking silly questions, but I realize many other wives ask those same questions.
    I'm sure the AFTB classes have some good info. on this subject, too! :)


  10. I think a kind of checklist on getting in...what to take to get your ID card, maps for the PX and commissary...signing up for deers...and with some, letting them know that deployment isn't optional. Their husbands can't just say "no"...'I'm not going'. I was in the army when we met, so that helped...but I was constantly surprised at the number of wives who would tell their husbands "Just say no." lol.

  11. I am a fairly new AF spouse on my first duty station overseas. I would like to think of myself as resourceful and able to get most knowledge on my own...I have even used resources readily available for me on base. STILL...the whole lost and lonely feeling is something terribly difficult to shake off. I struggle on a daily basis trying to be that independent person I was 6 months ago. We have been married one year and should still have that LOVEY DOVEY feeling and honestly...things are so tense you would think of us as roommates...how do people get through this?

    1. Erica, I put your comment up on facebook today!! You are getting some responses and advice! :)


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