Living in a continually changing environment is challenging for military spouses and kids, especially when you’re looking for a solid support system. Although we’re super adaptable and resilient, growing a military tribe can take time for a number of reasons. One big reason—you always fall for the super cool milspouse who’s packing out the day you’re moving in.

Whether you live on of off post, you’re going to need that military tribe, even if it’s just to vent about the obnoxiousness of a work schedule. (NO judgments…we’ve ALL been there!) To help you with growing your military tribe, here are a few ideas to get yourself out there and building those bonds.

Get involved with military-related organizations.
Affiliated with the military or not, there are hundreds of military-related organizations that help support military families. Whether you decide to join their organization as a volunteer, check out their events, or simply creep on them on Facebook, you can use them as a venue to meet up with like-minded people. (PSA—remember OPSEC, people!)

Connect at your kids’ school.
A lot of parents think school and automatically think PTA and want to run for the hills. (Bad Moms, anyone?) However, schools are a really great place to meet other military families, and as an added bonus, the kids might already know each other.  Although you might not be cutout for the PTA (if you are, GREAT!), try to attend events and volunteer at the school to meet other parents (and teachers!) that might be a good fit for your circle.

Join in on unit fun.
Does your spouse’s unit hold functions for couples or families? If so, give it a try. Although having your own set of friends outside of your spouse’s job is nice, it is equally nice to know other spouses in the unit. This can be especially helpful if they do group deployments. Instead of binge watching shows on Netflix, drinking wine, and eating pizza alone Friday night, you can do it with a friend!

Meet up with Blue Star Families in your area.
I might be a bit biased because, well, Blue Star Families is AWESOME, but they are also a great place to connect with other military families. Again, you can volunteer your time to help others in your local area, or you can come hang out with your local leaders and other spouses at fun events like monthly book clubs.

Volunteer in your community.
It’s always nice to know that you live in a supportive and safe community. One great way to learn about your community and the people in it are by volunteering. Even if you fall in friend with a civilian, they can join your military tribe. The different perspectives can be nice, and one day, military life will come to an end and they could be a great resource to help with the transition.

Get social! 
If you aren’t on social media, you are missing out (and not reading this article!) Social media has become the new place to meet and screen potential friends. If this is your cup of tea, join groups in your local area; many people post on social media groups to meet new people or get together. Obviously, you want to practice good OPSEC and stay safe—which is why many people will initially meet on the base in a very crowded area. The commissary on payday would be perfect! 😉

Community events? Go!
Within a 50-60 mile radius of any base, you’re likely going to find military families. Where there is one military family, there is another. Check out your community’s events, as well as those in the areas around the post, and make it a day. And, you’re likely not the only one at the event scoping out the goods to grow their military tribe. Too bad we can’t all walk around with “military spouse friend wanted” signs. The awkwardness would make for some awesome convo!

Growing your military tribe isn’t just about the instant gratification of finding new friends. Through this crazy, hectic, wonderful, whirlwind of a journey we all need those friends who are family. It might take a while to find the right people for your life, but you’ll find them, and once you have them, you won’t want to remember what life was like before they entered the picture.

Written by: Jessica Howington