If you’re a Military Spouse, seasoned or new, you’ll want to read on about the challenges military spouses face, and find out how you can overcome them.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.
Being a military spouse has been one of the most rewarding and adventurous times of my life but it hasn’t come without it’s challenges. As a fairly seasoned military spouse, 11+ years, I have run into my share of struggles that non-military friends and family just don’t quite understand.
Military spouses face challenges daily, that are very unique to our civilian counterparts. Most non-military spouses that are friends of mine truly try to sympathize but often don’t understand, or might not have even thought of some of the struggles this lifestyle brings upon us.
Although we might face unique challenges in our role as military spouses, that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome each and every one of them.
Overcoming life challenges is very much a choice, especially as a military spouse. We can choose to let this lifestyle run our emotions and pin us down or we can choose to bloom where we’re planted.
Overcoming challenges as a Military Spouse
Some of these challenges are obvious – yes we live away from family and our active duty spouses leave for extended periods of time – but there are a few challenges that you may be surprised to find.
I asked some of my dearest military spouse friends to tell me what challenges they personally have faced to see if they coincided with how I have struggled – the answers were overwhelming. They were real, and honest and all very much the same.
I’ve recognized five top challenges that all military spouses seem to have in common. I’m sharing them with each of you so that you might be able to recognize these unique struggles to military spouses and also so that if this is something that is challenging your family, you might find this helpful to overcome them.
Living away from family
Living away from family is tough. You don’t have grandma and grandpa to call on to watch the children for a date night, or pick a sick child up from school. You miss out on watching nieces and nephews grow up and Holidays are spent opening gifts via face time.
When you do get to visit your family, it’s very limited. You’re lucky if you are able to travel once, maybe twice a year and when you do the days go by quickly.
This one is a hard challenge to overcome. Unless you get lucky and happen to be stationed nearby. Technology has helped bridge this gap, for sure and finding your tribe with other military spouses can help fill the void for the short time that you’re on station.
Solo parenting is inevitable when you are a military spouse. It’s par for the course that your active duty spouse will leave, sometimes at a moments notice, for days, weeks, or months at a time. During this time you have to transition from a two parent household to one.
When solo-parenting you have to deal with children acting out because they don’t understand, child care problems because you don’t have another person to help work things out, and handling every single parenting moment yourself without ANY break.
Solo-parenting is hard, it is complicated. This challenge is also difficult, just as living away from family, to overcome. Finding a group of friends that are loyal can help. Utilizing drop in daycare programs for when you need a break or need to get things done and preparing your children ahead of time, as often as possible, can ease the transition from a two parent household to one, and then back to a reunited family unit.
Most importantly, being patient through the transitions and allowing yourself to feel the emotions can be extremely helpful.
Making friends is hard enough as an adult but add in the constant movement that comes with the military lifestyle and it can seem nearly impossible. You arrive at your new duty station knowing no-one and it can take months if not years to make those true friendships. Once you have made those connections it’s time to move again or just when you’ve met someone that you have so much in common with, it’s time for them to move.
To make it easier to make those true connections and find friends to become your tribe you often have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Some ways to meet like-minded people as soon as you get to a new duty station include volunteering at the school or your church, joining fitness groups or playgroups, and attending events in the community. Some of my best friends were made, especially in the early years, just by taking my children to the local park!
Relocation is going to happen. As a military spouse you must pack up your belongings time and time again to relocate to another city or state or even a foreign country. It is a challenge to find a home when you’ve never be to your new town, choosing the right school for your children, and let’s not forget just the sheer amount of work it takes to pack up and move a house, then unpack and make it your home again.
Each time a military spouse relocates they must find a new routine in a new place, make new friends, transfer certifications and insurances and licenses. You have to find new doctors for yourself and your children and make appointments and schedule all of the activities that your family has become accustomed to.
To make your relocations easier as a military spouse you can start by doing your research. Reach out to friends and family that may know the area, join local online groups and ask questions and recommendations about the new area. For this relocation process to be the most successful for children, having their sports and activities lined up before you arrive is a great idea – this gives them something to look forward to and will allow them to jump back into their routine and even make some new friends right away.
Part of the relocating challenge is also finding work. It’s hard to remain in the same position if you have to pick up and leave every three years. Many military spouses find it challenging to even be hired for a position because employers favor longevity and may pass over military spouses as they know they are only temporary.
Another challenge with finding work is that many licenses and certifications don’t transfer across state lines. In order to continue in that profession a military spouse will likely need to take new tests and pay fees associated with new certifications.
Walmart is stepping in to help Military Spouses overcome the challenge of finding work and build a career. You may have recently heard of Walmart’s initiative to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020. Now they are taking the leap to help military spouses as well.
With the Military Spouse Career Connection Walmart will give hiring preference to military spouses who apply for a position with Walmart or Sam’s Club beginning November 12th.
Candidates can visit walmartspouseswithamission.com to start the process.