Most military spouses hate the term ‘dependent.’ Yes, according to my ID card, I am a military dependent. My husband is the active duty military member, and we depend on him for our housing, health insurance, and general benefits. But a dependent is not truly who I am.

According to the dictionary, dependent is not just a noun, but also an adjective, meaning ‘requiring someone or something for financial, emotional, or other support.’ Or, another definition is, ‘unable to do without, as in dependent on drugs.’ Ugh, barf. Just because my husband is deployed does not mean that I suddenly become emotionally or financially unstable. I can continue to function just fine when he is gone, thank you very much. My husband is not a drug that I need, and I am not a weak, helpless damsel in distress without him.

When the military defines dependents, they only care about your relationship to the service member. It doesn’t matter that I have more experience with household and appliance repairs, or that I have changed more tires, or that I have a higher education than my military husband. It wouldn’t even matter if I worked full-time and had a higher salary than him. (In our early marriage, I did!) Apparently, all that matters is that he is in the military, and I am his spouse. Therefore, I’m a military dependent

So yes, being called a dependent can really rub some spouses the wrong way, especially when they are successfully navigating through a deployment, a career, caring for children, and handling emergency situations, all on their own.

Nevertheless… as much as I would like to write a post that basically says, “I am woman, hear me roar,” I have to be honest. I do not get through deployments alone. No one can! We all do it with a little bit of help. So while I may not like to admit that I am dependent on my husband, here are some things that I do depend on to get me through deployments (and life in general):

Here’s What Military Dependents Really Need

1. Military dependents need friends

Where would I be without them? The girls who have picked up my kids from school, watched them during doctor appointments, laughed with me, cried with me, shared this crazy military life with me, and taught me so much about raising children. I have wonderful friends who have inspired every part of my life. They have supported this blog, and made a fuss over me when I published my first book. Friends are awesome! Without them, everyone would become depressed and not be able to survive deployments.

Here’s a list of the friends you need when you’re a military loved one!

2. Every military dependent belongs in a family

Even though I have lived at duty stations pretty far from my family for the last 14 years, they have always been there for me. They welcomed me home when my husband deployed right after our 2nd baby’s birth. They came to live with me when our 3rd baby was born during a deployment. One of my sisters potty-trained my son. My other sister painted most of my house. Both have helped me restock my freezer. My mom takes time to talk to me every week, and is always there to answer my questions, offer advice, or just listen to my complaints. My in-laws have always welcomed me, whether or not my husband was around. Having support from family is like a strong rock that you can always depend on, no matter what comes your way.

And if you don’t have a good relationship with your biological family or your in-laws? Then build your own family out of the military community!

3. Caffeine, we all need it!

Whether you get it from a morning pot cup of coffee, or an energy drink, or a Diet Coke, caffeine is what gets everyone through the day. Right? Without it we would all be cranky and more exhausted than we already are! It’s my one addition, so I can admit that I do depend on caffeine.

4. Military dependents need prayers

I am a strong believer in the power of prayer. There have been times when I have literally felt a calming and peaceful presence, and then afterwards found out that someone was praying for me at that moment. Regardless of what you believe, prayers help. I depend on my prayer warriors to keep me going and carry me through the toughest times. Here are 8 ways to pray during deployment, even if you’ve never prayed before!

5. Military dependents need encouragement

We all need strength and support on the hard days–and everyone’s military journey is bound to have challenging times! Whether it’s a comforting cup of coffee with a friend, a long-distance phone call to someone who gets you, or a shoulder to cry on when things feel overwhelming, every military dependent truly depends on the strength of others sometimes.

It’s why I wrote my book,¬†Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses. Every letter is written to YOU, the reader, to support you through a common challenge of military life. You can order your own copy of Open When on Amazon, or directly from the publisher.

Open When book

6. House trouble? We need a maintenance crew

If you live on base, these guys are probably on speed dial. And they probably hate my house. But when you live on base, maintenance and repairs are a free service. So use it. If an appliance stops working, your sink clogs, a light bulb explodes, or a bathtub faucet won’t turn off (all of these have happened to me during a deployment), then call them! They can fix things quickly, and save you a lot of stress. If you live off base, you will depend on your landlord. If you own your house, then you are on your own. (I’ve been there, too. Then I depended on YouTube How To videos.)

7. Military parents need babysitters

I could not get though deployments without babysitters! Whether it is a trusted friend, a teenage neighbor, or a paid adult, there are times when I need to call up the whole village to help raise my children. I am ok with that. I don’t think it would be healthy for us all to spend every second of the deployment together. And children are not allowed at my dental check-ups, so I have to do something! Of course I screen people first and only use individuals I trust. But I certainly have to depend on babysitters sometimes, and I am so glad they exist.

8. Dependents need military resources

Every military base has TONS of resources available to military families–base schools, free parenting and relationship classes, resume workshops, libraries, equipment rental, discounted tickets, free counseling, new baby workshops, special needs groups, and so much more! I depend on these affordable opportunities to help enrich our family and balance our budget. I am sometimes amazed by the amount of government funding that goes towards helping military families. If we don’t use the services, they will eventually be taken away. So find out what could help you at your base, and then sign up!

Here’s a giant list of resources for military families going through deployment!

So yes, there are times when I don’t like being called a dependent. But you know what? There actually are things and people that I depend on. And I’m betting you depend on some of these things too. So I guess we are ALL dependents, on each other!

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