From active duty to military spouse: one female veteran’s story
Guest post by Amanda Huffman of Airman to Mom
When I was in the military I wasn’t too sure what military spouses had to complain about. I mean, they were given a pretty good life. Right?
Sure, they might have ended up in the middle of nowhere small town and couldn’t use the degree they had just graduated with, but who cares? They could just stay at home and have kids. Or they at least could find some sort of job. Maybe it was outside of their career and the pay wasn’t good, but a least they had a job. Life couldn’t be that bad.
I obviously volunteered to join the military, so when people complained about being far away from family or not going to the assignment they wanted, I didn’t have a lot of sympathy. The military is an adventure, at least that’s how I tried to look at it. And yes, the military is an adventure, but there is a whole other side that goes with it. Just because you fall in love with someone who joined or was already serving didn’t mean you were really ready for what the military was going to require you to do.
Move across the country away from everything you have ever known. Then add in starting over with no friends, no familiar stores in a city where you don’t know how to get to anywhere without a GPS.
I don’t think anyone can really be ready.
This active duty airman became a stay-at-home mom
When I made my first move, it was to be reunited with my husband after being separated for about a year. We were young, in love and both had jobs with the military that worked out nicely. We had the flexibility to come home for the holidays and we began to make our life together. It was a fun adventure! No doubt the Air Force threw a few curve balls in to make it more exciting. But overall, life was good.
In 2013, while I was pregnant with my son, I decided to leave the Air Force. I timed it that I would separate shortly after he was born. I thought I was going from the hard life to the good life. But I quickly learned staying home with kids is not as easy or as fun as social media sometimes makes it out to be. Somehow, I was only able to see the bad parts of my military situation and focused on only the good of being a stay home mom and military spouse.
Becoming a full-time military spouse was a challenge
When I stayed home with my baby, I thought my time in the military had prepared me for anything I would face as a military spouse. Why would TDYs be any different now than they were when I was in? Before having children, when my husband was gone I would fill up my days with work, then find either an activity or television show to fill up my evening. The first time my husband left after my son was born was when he had just turned 2 months old. My husband was gone for an 8-week training. It had lots of tears and lots of loneliness and definitely did not meet my expectations of what life would be like.
I had always had something to do during my days, but somehow staying home each day with a 2-month little baby who didn’t do anything the book said he should do, left me drowning. The only thing I could do was call my parents and husband. Reaching out for help was still something foreign to me and it made the road from military to motherhood a hard one.
Military spouse life is challenging, even for veterans
So why is it so hard to be a military spouse? It is really hard to pinpoint one reason.
Everyone’s story is different. But military spouses have to make countless sacrifices to enable their service member to serve. It isn’t all bad, but it certainly isn’t all good.
Leaving the military to become a military spouse was nothing like I expected. I saw only the good, but I found the heartache and pain that military spouses are notoriously good at hiding. I found lonely places where I was alone with no one close that I could reach out to. I also found a lot of empathy for those who have served in the military spouse role.
People can always play the comparison game of who has it harder. And maybe that is part of why I had a hard time empathizing with a military spouse before I actually became one. You can always look at someone’s situation and find another person who has it harder and seems not to be struggling.
But when life is hard for you. It doesn’t matter what other people have done before you. You just need the support right now, right in the situation you are in. To know it is okay to struggle or even have those days you cry.
My perspective certainly changed once I became a military spouse.
Was military spouse life like what you expected it to be?