On Saturday my mother-in-law ran across a video of the finale of the USMA class of 2016’s graduation ceremony, and it sent sharp goosebumps up and down my arms and a big smile to my face as we watched. I imagined what all of those new officers and their families and friends were feeling, and listening to those same words (“Class of 2016, Dismissed!”) immediately put me back in those stadium bleachers six years ago as I watched my then-boyfriend of 2.5 years throw his hat in the area and celebrate the end of his time at West Point and beginning of his real Army career (we got engaged five short weeks later). You can read my graduation week recap here.
I look at the girl in these pictures (little 22 year old me!) and smile because she was so purely thrilled about the adventure of tackling the Army with her love.
I’ve learned a lot throughout the last few years about being an Army wife and the military in general, but a few things in particular stand out and are important to note if you’re just getting started on this adventure.
No two military careers are the same.
From deployment schedules, to PCS timelines, to the amount of time in the field, to key development time and more, no two soldiers will share the exact same experience. I have many friends whose spouses all commissioned around the same time as my husband, but our experiences the last six years could not be more different from each other.
Not all FRGs are created equal.
There are a number of factors that determine how established and involved one’s FRG is. With the right leadership in place, these groups can be an extremely valuable resource for support and information while also being a lot of fun. Some units may have FRGs that provide an unforgettable, positive experience while others may not have an established FRG at all. Related: Hosting my first FRG coffee group
PCSing (moving) can be a hassle but equaling exciting and surprisingly refreshing.
Though frequently moving around is thought of as a hardship to many, it can also be a really exciting time to start over fresh in a new home and explore a new city or part of the country (or even the world!). All three of our homes have been so different in layout and size, and we’ve really enjoyed finding the things we love about each of them (while also being grateful to leave behind the things we didn’t like). Related: An entire section on PCSing
Deploying is important.
No military spouse ever wants his or her soldier to deploy for a long list of reasons, but as difficult as it is for me to admit, deploying is an essential part of what these soldiers signed up to do. This has been a very tough pill for me to swallow the last six years as we’ve spent 25 total months apart while he’s been in Afghanistan and Kuwait, but I’ve learned that deploying at least one time is a crucial part of developing as a soldier and in one’s career in general. Related: Deployment #1 / Deployment #2 / Deployment #3
You have the potential to make some of the strongest friendships you’ve ever had.
I’ve said this no less than a dozen times on this blog, but friendships made with other military families have the potential to grow and strengthen at lightning speed. The military provides a base to build relationships on, and I’ve found there’s rarely a shortage of things to talk about and connect over when surrounded by people who “get” your lifestyle and experiences. Related: A Letter to My Military Spouse Soul Sisters, With Love
If you’re a part of the military community, what else would you add to this list of lessons learned?