Editor's Note: Grantham University is taking a moment to acknowledge the tremendous contribution a military spouse makes all year long by republishing timely advice from a veteran Air Force spouse. One day of appreciation is not nearly adequate enough; nevertheless, we thank you.
As I write this, I’m camping out on the floor of a mostly-empty house. It's the latest of many international moves I’ve made with my husband over the last few years.
Where the Air Force sends us, we go.
Before I got married, I had no idea how much military spouses endured in order to be with the military member they love. Now, we build a life, career and often an online education in seemingly stressful situations. Among spouses stationed in the homeland or around the world, you’ll find a strength of character and resilience that bends fluidly with whatever life throws at them.
We're experts at short roots.
I grew up in Texas, met my husband on the island of Saipan and we married in Guam the next year.
The military community on Guam was my first real introduction to life as a military spouse. Because I already had a bit of a background in world travel, the move wasn’t as jolting as it could have been.
But there’s a difference between visiting a place for a few months and moving there to put down roots (albeit shallow ones). In order to thrive with short roots, every plant needs plenty of water and fertile soil right at the surface. Spouses are the same way, and they furnish that soil for those around them. That translates to a vibrant community that builds around the moves, deployments and rapid changes of military service.
We specialize in portable careers (and educations!)
Military spouses are usually forced to make their career portable. That means building a career while on the road.
Programs like Grantham University’s online college classes make it easy to work toward an accredited online degree from anywhere (even a remote island in the Pacific). Navigating dramatic time-zone shifts often makes turning assignments in on time an exercise in math as well as homework. But military spouses become experts at marketing themselves and their expertise and building their education whether they’re home, half a world away or somewhere in between.
I’ve done everything from working part-time in a Guam scuba dive shop to copywriting and online marketing, and I’ve learned something valuable from every single project.
We can make a home anywhere. Literally anywhere.
Military spouses learn to build a life quickly—the same kind of life that takes some people a decade to establish.
We grow from the knowledge of others who have already spent a year or two in a location. We’re not afraid to explore. We make friends quickly, and we’re good at pulling up those roots—but maintaining lifelong connections—once we’re transferred elsewhere.
Sometimes, being a military spouse means living out of a hotel room for a month before a house becomes available at a new duty station (been there, done that). When you live in the military, you quickly become adept at making a home and career wherever you are—and settling into a new location at the speed of light. What many spouses don't know (and feel guilty about) is that these superpowers don't necessarily come naturally. It often takes work, tears and many stressful moments to get to a place where you love military life. Even then, you'll never love everything it entails. None of us do.
But building a career, an education and a "normal" life wherever you're stationed gets easier with every move. It's a process, it'll change the way you see the world and it's worth it to be with the one you love—even when it's a rocky road to travel.
We know that one blog can't even begin to cover all the challenges you face, but we still want to help. Check out these related military spouse-centered blogs for some more advice, tips and insights:
How Online Education Saved one Military Spouse from Sacrificing Dreams
3 Options for Military Spouses that aren't Eligible for MyCAA Funds
Military Spouse Networks: What can they do for you?
Macho Spouse: An Online Community for Male Military Spouses
3 Interview Questions that can be Scary for Military Spouses