Published: January 26, 2023
Happy New Year! I hope 2023 is off to a fantastic start for you and that you were able to enjoy the holidays.
For me, I got to do one of my favorite things — spend time with my millennial sons! As much as I miss the two very-busy little boys who kept me on my toes, I truly enjoy seeing the men that they’ve become.
My younger son is on active duty in the Army. Nowadays, so many of our conversations revolve around the Army and how life in the military has evolved over the years. Talk about a full-circle moment for this mom!
Recently, we found ourselves discussing some of the family life issues that I’ve heard from the younger military spouses I’ve spoken with at different installations. Interestingly enough, my son had a candid and honest perspective as a young, single soldier. It was enlightening for me.
While trying to start a family can be overlooked as an issue in the military, he told me that he’s hesitant to let young women know about his career because so many know so little about the lifestyle. As a successful and ambitious individual, he finds himself attracted to young women with similar life goals — career-minded, ambitious, and with dreams to pursue. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to tell someone that he moves A LOT because if they were to decide to make a serious or forever commitment, she might have to leave her prosperous, fulfilling career to follow him.
He knows that some people are successful with long-distance relationships (or geo-baching), and they have found ways to make it work. But that’s not something that appeals to him, and I get it. (Says his mom who’s moved 18 times to follow her soldier.)
I’ve known it for years, but the military spouse community is changing and evolving, and the conversation with my son highlighted the reality of it.
For MY generation, my story was pretty typical. The vast majority of my Army spouse peers met their soldiers as young adults, got married, and followed their soldiers wherever the orders took them. It was the norm. We knew the choices we were making. It was just what you did back then.
But NOW, it’s different. Spouses aren’t so willing to walk away from having a dual-income household or their own dreams and career aspirations. And it’s inspiring! I truly admire the spouses who have found a way to transport their careers from one duty station to the next or have figured out how to reinvent themselves from place to place in order to maintain or further their careers. My hat is off to you!
Until the conversation with my son, I had not thought of this issue from the stance of a young person in the military thinking of their own future relationships. Could this affect his decision on how long he remains on active duty? Who knows? But it’s definitely something to think about when we talk about the issues surrounding retention.
Our conversation was a start … and it was just between the two of us. But I am so glad that there are more conversations happening at the highest levels (like the Department of Defense and even the White House) about the importance of military spouse employment and support.
There is proposed additional legislation to ease the transfer of professional licenses as well as a new paid fellowship program through the Dept. of Defense to expand employment opportunities for military spouses; not to mention a variety of programs in the private sector aimed at helping with the issue. And I can’t forget to mention Blue Star Families’ very own Spouseforce. Are these the perfect, complete solutions? Absolutely not. But it’s uplifting to know that decision-makers at the top and influential people at all levels are making strides to improve these challenges.
Serving in the military is one of the noblest professions a person can choose. There are a multitude of occupations, benefits, and opportunities available for those brave enough to raise their right hands and take the oath. But military families should not have to choose between serving our country or spouses being able to work.
As for my son, I’m confident that he’s going to be just fine. He loves what he does, he travels on- and off-duty, and soon he’ll be heading to his dream duty station in Hawaii. He’s living his best life!
I guess it’s time to start researching Christmas in Maui!
Make 2023 your best year ever! XOXO!
Musings From A Military Spouse
Michelle is no stranger to military life. She grew up as an Air Force brat, has been an Army spouse for 35 years, and is now an Army mother. Although life in the military is always changing, she knows that family is steadfast and home isn’t a place – it’s who you’re with. Michelle has learned a thing or two about military life, and she hopes you’ll join her as she shares her lifelong experiences each month in “Musings from a Military Spouse.”