The pros and cons of being a military spouse - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

The title of “Military Spouse” is a descriptor that those married to service members wear proudly — and with good reason. There is a sense of pride in being married to someone who has dedicated their life and career to defending our great nation.


Military life affects the entire family to varying degrees and finding others who can relate to what you are going through is important. So, it makes sense to identify as a “Military Spouse” and be an active part of that community.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
We’re a family and it’s beautiful. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Calvin Shamoon)

But is there a downside?

Maybe.

My husband recently retired from the military after 20 years in the Marine Corps. We were ready for this transition. We knew exactly where we wanted to retire, we had friends and family in the area, and, having already lived in the location in the past, we had a few roots already planted.

I was a very active part of the military-spouse community and, over time, I became very well-versed in making friends and adapting to living in certain areas for only a few years at a time. Even today, we still find ourselves gravitating towards military families when it comes to social gatherings.

But 18 months into this “retirement” phase of our lives together, I am feeling a little bit lost.

It’s not that I’m getting the itch to move — I have jokingly told my husband that I just want to be buried in the backyard because I am not moving again. But I do feel a loss of identity when it comes to friendships.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
No one gets the military community like the military-spouse community. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy)

Making friends with folks who have lived in one area their entire lives is a bit challenging. It’s not because they’re not open to being friends with a newcomer, it’s because I find myself so far out of my comfort zone. The zone where, no matter what, another military spouse and I instantly had at least one thing in common upon first meeting. So I struggle to create long-lasting, meaningful friendships (that are so valuable to my mental health) in a community of people who have been around each other their entire adult lives.

Was there something I wish I had done differently while my husband was on active duty? I’m not sure. I don’t regret the many incredible, life-long friends I made, even if they are spread out across the world. I don’t regret being active in the military-spouse community because I learned so much and grew as a person.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Military spouses of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 visit local children at the Life is Beautiful Daycare Center in Ishikawa, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonah Baase)

But I do wish that I had spent more time making connections with those outside of the community. I had “civilian family” friends, sure, but it feels like a life skill I could have spent more time honing.

Just like active duty service, transition out of military service impacts the entire family. There are many aspects of the transition to be considered, but one that I really wish I had realized was being careful of putting so much stock in my identity as a military spouse, especially when it comes to the friends I made.

I don’t wish that I had spent less time with military friends, I don’t wish that I had shied away from participating in the community, but I do wish I had spent more time thinking of life after my husband’s military service in regards to my own identity.

Military Life

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

Over the years, the military has developed Transition Assistance Programs in order to help service members make the change from active duty to civilian life. Everyone goes through the program eventually, learning about benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, how to write a resume (and how to make it understandable to civilians), and even how to dress in something other than a uniform.


The pros and cons of being a military spouse
It just looks out of place sometimes. (U.S. Army photo)

Yet, despite the best efforts of instructors and facilitators, there are some things the classes don’t cover — including simply how to actually get out. Here are a few lessons about the separation process.

5. Your DD-214 is worth getting right.

Everyone’s heard of the DD form 214. It represents the accomplishments of your time in the military. For the rest of your life, it’s how you’ll prove you’re a veteran. So, as excited as you might be for a new chapter in life, you’ll want to devote time and effort to getting it right.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
You might have heard of this document. It has lots of fans.(11Bravos.com)

You may not think the awards section, for example, matters much. However, listing the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medals establish that you’re a combat veteran, which makes a difference for certain VA benefits and can get you hiring preference for certain federal jobs. The good news is, even if not all of your past units were meticulous in documenting awards, it’s easy to correct. Producing a citation is the easiest way to have an award added. In the case of unit or campaign awards, any official document that proves you were part of a given unit for a certain deployment can prove you’ve earned it.

If the first working copy of your DD-214 isn’t accurate, don’t delay in asking your separations/retirement clerk how to fix it.

4. Copy your medical records!

Another important document is your medical record, so be sure to get a copy early. These days, some medical facilities will provide a digital copy on CD. Before you visit your local VA, be sure to ask whether they’ll work with that format. Either way, you’ll want to go through every page (paper or electronic) yourself before you take it to anyone else. You should flag anything that isn’t a physical or otherwise normal visit.

Be sure the copy you’re given is complete. Many members have been in since before the military switched to electronic records; when you ask for a copy of your record, you’re supposed to get both what’s in the electronic record and scans from your paper record. Be meticulous; if things are missing, go back to the records office and ask. Like your 214, your medical record is worth spending the time necessary to get right.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
This is really important for a number of reasons.

Once you’ve reviewed your complete copy, contact a veteran’s service organization. They have experts in the VA claims process who will go through your record with you and guide you through the next steps. You don’t even need to be a member of the organization.

3. Learn about the SBP.

Most TAP classes include a discussion about financial planning, and your transition office may ask you to show a budget. However, there isn’t always a discussion of the Survivor’s Benefit Plan, or SBP. This is an insurance plan retirees can pay into that will provide a beneficiary (usually spouse) an annuity to make up for lost retirement income once the retiree dies. And, while we don’t give financial advice, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. It’s worth taking a look at your personal insurance and investment situation to decide if it’s something you want.

2. You get house-hunting and job-hunting perks.

If you’re retiring or being involuntarily separated under honorable conditions, you get permissive temporary duty (free time off) to find a home and a job. Just how much time you get (10, 20, or 30 days) depends on if you’re being involuntarily separated or retired and whether you’re in the continental U.S. or not. That’s in addition to your terminal leave.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Getting a home is totally doable. There are hundreds of USAA commercials about this.

1. What is the Skillbridge Internship?

Not every TAP class mentions this program, so you may want to ask about it. This program allows service members to participate in civilian job training, including internships and apprenticeships, up to six months before separating. That means you can be learning your new job while still being paid by the military!

Military Life

The ultra-rare Marine Corps uniform accessory you may never see

From the point of view of an airman who (in the right town) could be mistaken for a Coastie while wearing my dress blues, I have to say: Marine Dress uniforms have no equal. I totally get why people join the Marines just for the dress blues.


After a few years in the military and a few years in military-oriented media, I thought I had seen every uniform there was. That’s when I saw this guy:

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Why is this Marine dressed like a magician?

This was surprising to me because I continually make fun of the movie Basic for depicting Samuel L. Jackson’s Army character wearing a cape. But I wasn’t the only one who was perplexed by this. In 2016, a Quora user asked Marines what that cape was.

For those not in the know, the Marines in the top photo are “pretty much wearing the same mess dress uniform” and the cape is a somewhat antiquated, but still on the books, accessory: the Boat Cloak.

Boat Cloaks are a made-to-order item that can cost upward of $1,000 at the NEX/MCX. One former Master Gunnery Sergeant recalled seeing one worn by a Chief Warrant Officer 5 at a Marine Corps ball. The Master Guns described the look as “magnificent.”

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Army capes: not magnificent. Also, not a thing.

It’s difficult to find exact regulations for the Boat Cloak, but it looks like there are different versions for the Senior NCOs and Officers. As of 1937, it was still a required item for officers.

Get your Boat Cloak at the Marine Shop for $650.00. If you wear one to any mess dress-level function, please send photos to We Are The Mighty.

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of December 2nd

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Airmen from Los Angeles Air Force and March Air Reserve Base pilot battery-powered mini F-16 jets down the red carpet during the 86th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade in Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 26, 2017. The annual live parade is an American tradition, featuring 5,000 participants, attracting more than one million people on the streets of Hollywood and broadcasting to nationwide network televisions during the holiday season.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(Photo by Van Ha)

Smoke emanates from Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicolas Strickler’s M9 pistol during small-arms live-fire sustainment training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2017. During the live-fire training exercise, the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron Airmen honed their marksmanship skills, transitioning between firing the M9 pistol and M4 carbine. Strickler is a tactical air control party specialist assigned to the 3rd ASOS.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Army:

Paratroopers with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division wait to board a C-17 Globemaster III from the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., on Green Ramp here during a Battalion Mass Tactical Exercise Nov. 28. Airmen in the 43d Air Mobility Operations Group at Pope Field are supporting air and ground crews from several Air Mobility Command units during the exercise, providing operations, maintenance, Aerial Port, fuels, ground equipment and other support. Airlift here is provided through the Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training program — or JA/ATT — giving Airmen opportunities to train for real-world airlift operations with other services.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Air Force photo by Marc Barnes)

An M1A2 Abrams tank from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fires its main weapon, a 120mm canon, during Gunnery Qualification Table VI on November 28, 2017. Gunnery Qualification Table VI evaluates the tank crew on engaging stationary and moving targets in defensive and offensive postures. 1-8 Cav. has been training at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex since early November and will continue into December before returning to Camp Humphreys.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Patrick Eakin. 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

Navy:

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Derrick Elliott from Bunnlevel, North Carolina, shoots a 9 mm pistol as his line coach, Lt. Andrew Spilling from St. Louis, watches during a small arms gun shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21). New York, components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting a Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise that is the culmination of training for the Navy-Marine Corps team and will certify them for deployment.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lyle Wilkie)

U.S. Navy Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and prepare to render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 29, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emily Johnston)

Marine Corps:

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force conduct a low-light deck shoot to maintain marksmanship proficiency while underway aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Nov. 26, 2017. Marines maintain accuracy with the M16A4 assault rifle and M9 pistol. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and to preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dusty Kilcrease)

Lance Cpl. David Gaytan, an aircraft ordinance technician with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214, checks an AV-8B Harrier before the removal of ordnance during Exercise Winter Fury 18 at Marine Corp Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 29. Marines prepared several Harriers to support Winter Fury 18, which spans several locations including Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and MCAS Yuma, Ariz.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nadia J. Stark)

Coast Guard:

Coast Guard Station Islamorada boatcrew members observe a vessel fire in Tarpon Basin near Key Largo, Florida after arriving on scene with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine units, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The boatcrew assisted in putting the fire out by utilizing the wash from their propeller.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Coast Guard Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Islamorada )

Heavy snowflakes fall around a pair of Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters in Kodiak, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2017. Alaska-based Coast Guard aircrews train to respond even in snowy conditions.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Charly Hengen.

MIGHTY MOVIES

These hip hop songs come straight from combat vets

Ask any vet — music and combat go hand in hand.  Whether pounding the drums of war, blaring the bugle calls, or recording songs after combat, music has underscored the good, the bad, and the ugly of warfare throughout human history.


“Live From Iraq” is a Rap album actually made by combat veterans in a theater of war.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Soldiers from 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment conduct security with their M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank for a cordon and search operation in Biaj, Iraq. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II)

It was produced and conceived by U.S. Army Sergeant Neal Saunders, an M1 Abrams tank crewman of the 1st Cav’s 112 Task Force, along with several of his buddies.

Also read: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

They were fighting around Baghdad and Sadr City in 2005. When not out on missions, Big Neal and his crew would record songs in a makeshift studio, using their paychecks to order equipment from a Sam Ash music store in Philadelphia.

It was the only Sam Ash that would ship to their APO address.

“Live From Iraq” takes the listener on a harrowing, poignant journey of a year-long deployment. There’s no boasting of riches, hot girls, or glorified violence — just words of truth with socially relevant lyrics:

“This is up armor kits and bulletproof windows/ We sleep with body armor blankets and Kevlar pillows,” are some lyrics from the title track, “Live From Iraq.”
CHEWandLUvideos | YouTube

The album samples a troops-in-contact moment on the song, “Lace Your Boots,” with the lyrics: “But it’s too late to switch/ After this full metal jacket grabs ’em/ Look we told ’em this was war/ And we told ’em we get at ’em/ This is war…”

“Reality Check” over a poignant piano riff calls out those who like to play soldier in style and attitude, but have never walked the walk: “Wanna be soldiers

Follow me I’ll take you to see some Marines in Fallujah/ And I hope you make it/ Or come visit my theater/ Shit I’ll show you some places/ But I really don’t think/ That y’all wanna go where I’ll take you…”

4th25 – Topic | YouTube

Big Neal has said that this album is the blood of soldiers and all that they have seen and done. One could argue that “Live From Iraq” is the original Battle Mix, one that still resonates today with many of our soldiers deployed.

Military Life

Why the Army cutting out BS training was inevitable

A recent decision by the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, has been met with universal praise: No more stupid, mandatory training programs!

In fairness to the now-defunct online classes, yes, Soldiers should be aware of the risks inherent in traveling, the dangers of misusing social media, and that human trafficking is still a concern in 2018. But did the process of taking a four-day pass really need to include a mandatory class about why seat belts are important? Probably not.


The pros and cons of being a military spouse
I’m just saying, take one roll-over training class and you’ll never again drive without a seat belt.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

In his April 13th, 2018, memo, Secretary Mark Esper wrote,

“Mandatory training will not have a prescribed duration for conducting the training. All mandatory training must have alternative methods of delivery which do not require the use of an automated system or project system.”

To be clear, his decision is not cancelling all military training — that’d be ridiculous. It’s just stopping the online classes that are, essentially, glorified PowerPoint presentations. These are the classes that need to get done just so a box is checked, regardless of whether a troop actually learned the lesson or not.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
And everyone except the over-zealous Butterbar knows PowerPoints should be on the chopping block next.
(Photo by Sgt. Ashland Ferguson)

So, let’s break this down to a boots-on-ground level for a regular private first class trying to see his or her family over leave. According to older standards, the Soldier would have to log on the website, click “Next” repeatedly until they reach the end, and hope they can get at least a 60% on the final quiz.

Now, the responsibility is back in the hands of the NCOs. If a sergeant feels the need to break down, Barney-style, why a wearing a seat belt reduces crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, then it’s on them. If they don’t feel the need to re-explain obvious traffic laws, they can instead spend the two hours that would otherwise been used on clicking “Next” for, you know, actual military training.

Military Life

Navy recruits now test their fitness before shipping out

Enlisting in the Navy is about to get a bit more challenging.


On Nov. 15, the service announced it is creating an initial fitness test for prospective sailors on their first day of boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, male recruits must complete a one-and-a-half-mile run within 16 minutes, 10 seconds, and female recruits must complete the same run within 18 minutes, seven seconds.

If recruits can’t pass the test, they won’t move on to training.

Also read: The complete hater’s guide to the US Navy

The Navy is the only military service that until now has never had an initial test of fitness prior to recruit training, Lt. Sean Brophy, a spokesman for Naval Service Training Command, told Military.com.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participate in the run portion of the physical readiness test. Nimitz is pierside at its homeport of Naval Station Everett. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eli K. Buguey)

“It’s an effort to raise the bar and develop tough, more qualified sailors during basic military training to increase the lethality of the fleet overall,” he said.

The change was implemented after Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander of Naval Service Training Command, realized with surprise that the Navy, alone among the services, lacked an entry-level physical standard, an official with knowledge of the process told Military.com.

According to a Navy announcement, recruits who don’t make the minimum run time for the new test on first attempt can take the test again within 48 hours. If they still can’t pass the test, they will be discharged with an entry-level separation.

That form of discharge allows prospective recruits to obtain a waiver from Navy Recruiting Command and apply again for enlistment if they wish to do so.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Navy is the only military service that until now has never had an initial test of fitness prior to recruit training. (Photo from US Navy)

While the new standard may keep some people out, it’s pretty lenient compared with the other services.

In the Marine Corps, the initial strength test includes pull-ups, sit-ups, ammo can lifts, and a one-and-a-half-mile run. For male recruits, the run must be completed in 13 minutes, 30 seconds. Female recruits have 15 minutes to finish.

The Air Force requires new recruits to complete a run of the same distance in a recommended 13 minutes, 45 seconds for men and 16 minutes, one second for women. Push-ups and sit-ups are also included in the test.

Read Also: 7 military fitness tricks for working out without a lot of fancy gear

The Army, which also requires push-ups and sit-ups, has prospective enlistees complete a one-mile run before they start training. Men have 8 minutes, 30 seconds for the run, while women have 10 minutes, 30 seconds.

Brophy said the Navy’s standard for its new initial fitness test is based on a calculation of where recruits need to start in fitness to make a satisfactory medium, or passing, score on the physical readiness test administered at the end of boot camp.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
US Navy recruits graduate, June 30, 2017. (Photo from US Navy)

“If recruits push themselves through eight weeks of boot camp, there’s a 98 percent chance we can get them to the satisfactory medium,” he said.

While challenges with meeting military recruitment quotas have prompted some services to rethink their entry standards and requirements, Brophy said officials expect this change to produce more qualified enlistees, rather than cutting into the eligible recruitment pool.

“We expect attrition due to [physical fitness assessment] failures to drop,” he said.

And along with the challenge posed by the new test comes an incentive.

Recruits who achieve an “outstanding high” score on their final physical fitness assessment will be meritoriously advanced to the next rank when they graduate boot camp, officials said.

Military Life

6 reasons why beach assaults actually suck

The very essence of being a Marine Infantryman is being amphibious — it’s the reason we exist as a Marine Corps. However, the last two wars have been fought on land, so it’s understandable that beach assaults have taken a back seat in terms of training goals.


But, with the Marine Corps moving into a peacetime and with sights being set on near-peer rivals, amphibious assault training has resurfaced as pivotal.

Plenty of Marines are excited by this — as they should be — but beach assaults are just one more thing to add to the long list of reasons why the infantry is affectionately called, “the suck.”

Related: Marines want to swarm enemy defenses with hundreds of small boats

1. Sitting in an amphibious assault vehicle for hours.

Have you ever wanted to just lock yourself in a dark, metal box that floats on the ocean for hours? If you answered, “yes,” then you’ll love beach assaults. You get locked inside an AAV while you’re taken from ship to shore. Not only is it really dark and hot, it’s also terribly boring.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
These vehicles are extremely cramped. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Castillo, 1st Marine Division Combat Camera)

2. Diesel fumes.

Remember that thing about being locked in the metal box? Well, that metal box burns diesel and the fumes make their way into where you and your buddies are waiting. Essentially, you just sit there and inhale the fumes until you reach the shore.

3. Your gear gets soaked.

This isn’t true for absolutely everyone as some AAVs are pretty good about staying air-tight, but these are old vehicles and they’re prone to mechanical shortcomings. As many Marines will tell you, be sure to waterproof your gear because, between ship and shore, you’ll often end up in ankle-deep water.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Good luck turning that gear back in after this. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom)

4. The blinding sunlight.

If your assault happens during the day, the moment the ramp drops and you run outside, your eyes are going to have to adjust from the dark, dank interior of the AAV to unrelenting sunlight. For a few seconds, as you run to your position in the attack, you’ll be nearly blind.

5. Your rifle gets extremely dirty.

Between the salt water, sand, and any oil leaks, your rifle is going to get crapped on. Hopefully, you either lubed it up prior to leaving the ship or you did so while sweating your ass off in a cloud of diesel smoke. There’s no way you’ll keep it clean, but this will at least ensure you can shoot your rifle.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Once the attack is over, prepare your anus as the armory rejects your rifle like never before.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Sergio RamirezRomero)

Also read: 5 things service members hate on that are actually useful

6. Sand. Sand everywhere.

It’s rough, it’s coarse, and it gets everywhere. Sand will not only get in every small space on your rifle, it’s going to get into everything you have. Every crack in your gear, uniform, and body. You’re going to have sand in places that didn’t even touch the beach. Once you get back to ship, you’ll have to deep clean everything — including yourself.

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of January 13th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like, both in training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

1st Lt. Lauren Vinson, 333rd Fighter Squadron weapon systems officer, performs a preflight check on an F-15E Strike Eagle barrier during exercise Thunderdome 18-01, Jan. 11, 2018, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The exercise was designed to prepare and test the response efforts of Team Seymour Airmen in the event of a real-world contingency.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kenneth Boyton)

Airmen from the 130th Airlift Wing take aim at their targets as part of a weapons qualifications course Jan. 10, 2018 at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance Facility for the Combat Readiness Training Center, Gulfport, Miss. Airmen must be weapon qualified every 18 months to ensure mission readiness.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Caleb Vance)

Army:

Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper awards Spc. Hess from Combined Task Force Defender, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, an Army traditional coin at Seongju, South Korea on Jan. 10, 2018. Esper visited Korea to discuss readiness with units throughout the Korean theater and to inform Soldiers, Families and Civilians on his position and policies as the Secretary of The Army during his three-day visit.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Carl Greenwell)

German Soldiers shoot the M4 Carbine during the U.S. Marksmanship Range held at Camp Bondsteel Jan. 8.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Michael A Parker)

Navy:

Former National Football League (NFL) player Tim Tebow shakes hands with Cmdr. Stephen Henz, executive officer of the guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), during a distinguish visitor tour of the ship. Tebow and family members also plan to visit USS Battleship Missouri Memorial and USS Arizona Memorial during their visit to Pearl Harbor.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica O. Blackwell)

An explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12 fires his M4 rifle from behind cover during a live-fire training exercise in Moyock, N.C. EODMU 12 provides credible, combat-ready EOD forces capable of deploying anywhere, any time in support of national interests.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

Marine Corps:

Heavy rains drench the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 9, 2018. With inclement weather, the potential for heavy flooding and road closures increases on the installation. The predicted total rainfall will reach three inches by the time the storm dissipates.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Drake Nickels)

U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171 conduct zone reconnaissance training during exercise Kamoshika Wrath 18-1 at Japanese Ground Self-Dense Force Maneuver Area, Haramura Higashihiroshima, Japan, Jan. 9, 2018. The exercise allows Marines to test mission performance and meet training requirements by placing them in simulated real-world scenarios. MWSS-171 trains throughout the year completing exercises like Kamoshika Wrath to enhance their technical skills, field experience and military occupational specialty capability. Additionally, it serves MWSS-171 as a building block for increasing squadron proficiency in command and control.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Marcus Campbell)

Coast Guard:

Chief Warrant Officer Paul Ricketson and Petty Officer 2nd class Steve Knight, members of Marine Safety Detachment Santa Barbara, take note of the debris that has been carried down to the beach by the mudslides in Santa Barbara, California, Jan. 11, 2018. Members of Coast Guard MSD Santa Barbara mobilized to spearhead the removal of hazardous materials along the shoreline.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class DaVonte’ Marrow)

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Shackle, a 65-foot Small Harbor Tug, breaks ice Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 near Logan International Airport in Boston Harbor. Shackle is capable of breaking up to 12 inches of ice.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

Military Life

Why it’s okay to hate your duty station

Some military families love to PCS. The sense of adventure that comes with moving to another duty station every few years is exciting to them. Even when they receive orders to a location not on the top of their wish list, they find a way to embrace the suck and learn to love their new home until military orders move them once again.


Being positive about the process is an important coping skill, but what happens if you find yourself really unhappy? What if you just can’t shake truly hating your duty station?

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Minot. Am I right? (Image via Parks and Recreation)

It’s okay.

Seriously.

My husband’s final duty station was at an Army base in Arizona. As a Florida native, and as someone who loves the south and being close to the beach, I tried to embrace the new high desert landscape. I firmly believed it was best to make the most of where we were. But in reality, I loathed being stationed there. It was extremely dry, the temps were super hot in the summer (dry heat or not, 110 is miserable) and we got snow in the winter.

Also read: These are the 10 best duty stations for beer lovers

I missed all of the tall trees, greenery, and water I was accustomed to. We were also 2-3 days drive from our family. That had always been a difficult aspect of military life for me, but we had been blessed with orders within a days drive in the past, which made it bearable.

I was miserable.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
True story. (Image via giphy)

And I felt like a spoiled brat. My husband was home and out of the fleet. Friends at other duty stations were saying goodbye to their spouses for yet another deployment, and mine was home every night. How dare I be so miserable because the beach was not close by. 

And then I realized that me feeling guilty and forcing myself to pretend it wasn’t so bad, was making it worse. There is nothing wrong with having a preference when it comes to where you live. I wasn’t being a spoiled brat because I desperately missed the area I called “home,” but I did need to survive it without being completely miserable or making those around me the same.

Related: If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

So I accepted that I was never going to love the place.

Instead, I focused on the people. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be good people. We joined a Cross Fit gym, I sang with a local community choir and we made an effort to get to know our neighbors. 

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
It’s called friendship and I won’t be judged. (Image via giphy)

I focused on the opportunities. We traveled to southern California, the Grand Canyon, and other places we would probably not have the opportunity to visit after retirement. We visited interesting local spots like Bisbee and Tombstone frequently.

I focused on the future. With retirement just a few years away, we started to pay off debt in anticipation of buying our first home. We started to dream about what our lives would look like when we were able to plant permanent roots in an area we both loved.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
You gotta start somewhere. (Image via giphy)

And we survived. Acknowledging that Arizona was not my favorite has made me appreciate  our forever home location even more. In the summer when we have 100% humidity, I am reminded how miserable that dry heat was for me. In the winter when it drops to 20 for a few days, I am reminded how I hated all that snow. And when I am at the beach, I appreciate it’s beauty in a way I didn’t before.

It could be worse: The worst duty assignments for every branch of the military

Hating your duty station? Embrace it. Focus on the people, opportunities, and the future.

It’s okay. I promise.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse
Soon. Soon. (Image via Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 signs that a veteran’s story is ‘totally legit’

Since ancient times, warriors have gathered around the fire to recall battles fought with comrades over flagons of strong ale. Today, we keep this same tradition — except the storytelling usually happens in a smoke pit or dingy bar.

If you’ve been part of one of these age-old circles, then you know there’s a specific set of mannerisms that’s shared by service members, from NCOs to junior enlisted. The way veterans tell their stories is a time-honored tradition that’s more important than the little details therein — and whether those details are true or not. Not every piece of a veteran’s tale is guaranteed to be accurate, but the following attributes will tell you that it’s legit enough.


The pros and cons of being a military spouse

Just hear them out. Either out of politeness or apathy — your choice.

Beginning the story with “No sh*t, there I was…”

No good story begins without this phrase. It draws the reader in and prepares them to accept the implausible. How else are you going to believe their story about their reasonably flimsy military vehicle rolling over?

It’s become so much of an on-running trope in veteran storytelling that it’s basically our version of “once upon a time.”

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

But sometimes, you just have to tell the new guy that everything they just signed up for f*cking sucks.

Going into extreme (and pointless) detail

Whenever a veteran begins story time for a civilian, they’ll recall the little details about where they were deployed, like the heat and the smell.

Now, we’re not saying these facts are completely irrelevant, but the stage-setting can get a bit gratuitous.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

If your story is about your time as a boot, everyone will just believe you… likely because your story is too boring to fact check.

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Constantly reminding the listener that they can look it up

The military has paperwork for literally everything. Let’s say you’re telling the story of how you were the platoon guidon bearer back in basic training. If you tried hard enough, you could probably find a document somewhere to back that statement up.

As outlandish as some claims may be, nobody is actually to put in the work to fact-check a story — especially when you’re just drinking beers at the bar.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

Maybe it was because I was boring, but I never understood why people felt the need to go overboard with hiding people in the trunk. Just say, “they left their ID in the barracks.”

(Photo by Senior Airman Ryan Zeski)

Citing someone that may or may not exist as a source

Among troops and veterans, it’s easy for most of us forget that people also have first names. This is why so many of our stories refer to someone named of ‘Johnson,’ ‘Brown,’ or ‘Smith.’ It’s up to you whether you want to believe this person actually exists.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

If they start getting into the stories that will make grandma blush, fewer nudges are required.

(U.S. Army photo)

Tapping the listener’s arm if they lose interest

Military stories tend to drag on forever. Now, this isn’t because they’re boring, but rather because the storyteller vividly remembers nearly every detail.

Sometimes, those telling the story feel the need to check in on the listener to make they’re absorbing it all. Most vets do with this a little nudge.

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

Basically how it works.

(Comic by Broken and Unreadable)

Filling in the blanks with “because, you know… Army”

It’s hard to nail down every minute detail of military culture, like how 15 minute priors really work.

Some things can only be explained with a hand wave and a simple, “because, you know, that’s how it was in the service.”

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

Or they could just be full of sh*t. But who cares? If it’s a fun story, it’s a fun story.

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Finishing the story in a way that fosters one-upsmanship

Veterans’ stories aren’t intended to over-glorify past actions — even if that’s how it sounds to listeners. Generations upon generations of squads have told military stories as a way of a team-building, not as a way for one person to win a non-existent p*ssing contest.

Whether the storyteller knows it or not, they often finish up a tale by signaling to the listener that it’s now their turn to tell an even better story. Just like their squad leader did for them all those years ago.

Articles

6 ways the military upgrades your personal style

When young men and women join the military, they soon realize that there’s not a lot of room for personal style — you’re going to end up looking like everybody else.


That’s very true because you have joined a club that wears the same trousers and blouses as the person next to you.

Since you’re now wearing a uniform that you technically didn’t pick out, you may feel that you like your ability to be “you” is gone forever — but that’s not true.

Related: This is why sailors have 13 buttons on their trousers

So check out our list of how the military upgrades your personal style.

1. Physical training

It’s not every service member’s goal to go out and win the Mr. Olympia body building contest — we get it. But since we get physically tested nearly on a daily basis depending on your occupation, we tend to build a little muscle here and there.

Plus, members of the opposite sex tend to like a guy or gal that’s in shape — just saying.

We guess she liked that. (Image via Giphy)

2. Dental

Although the military doesn’t provide service members cosmetic dental work, getting your cavities filled for free is a much better option than walking around with a big a** hole in your #2 mural.

They declare war on cavities. (Image via Giphy)

3. Dress uniform

Since women love a man in uniform, all service members are in luck because you have to wear one practically every single day. Having a dress uniform ready to go in your closet can also save you a bunch of money from having to rent or buy a tux for your upcoming wedding.

See, it’s all in the uniform. (Image via Giphy)

4. Housing

Many of us join the military to escape an unsatisfying life back home. Most of the newbies will end up living in the barracks their first few years in the service until they get married or promoted. In recent years, the government has spent a lot of dinero to improve base housing.

This is a huge step up from when you were sharing a room with your little brother back home.

Base housing in the Air Force. (Image via Giphy)

5. Vision

If you have crappy vision heading into the military, you’re going to end up wearing BCGs at least through boot camp. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can upgrade your spectacles once you graduate and even put in a request to get a Lasik procedure through your chain of command.

Not bad right?

Not that type of vision. (Image via Giphy)

Also Read: This is why ACUs have buttons on their pants and a zipper on the blouse

6. Reliable paychecks

We don’t make millions, but we do get paid on time every 1st and 15th of the month (unless you get in trouble). For many newbies, that on-time payment system is the ultimate upgrade.

No, you shut up. (Image via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Articles

11 images of what it’s like seeing your DI for the first time after boot camp

From the moment a recruit arrives at basic training they’re called some pretty inventive names — and the abuse won’t stop for at least 12-weeks.


They can be the strongest or fastest in their platoon, but their drill instructors will still find a reason to yell at them to try to break them down — it’s just the way it goes.

The DI’s evil personality will usually drive recruits to resentment.

Since the military is smaller than most people think, it’s possible to run into your former drill instructor months or even years after you graduated boot camp.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

Check out what many young troops go through when they see their DI for the first time outside of boot camp.

1. When you’re now an E-3, and you think you’re the sh*t walking into the PX on a Saturday afternoon.

Somebody point me to the X-box games — or else. (Image via Giphy)

2. That look you give when you spot your former DI checking out DVDs with these little kids who appear to be mini versions of them.

WTF! They don’t live at boot camp? (Image via Giphy)

3. When they look over in your direction and you pretend you didn’t see them.

You can’t see me. (Image via Giphy)

4. After a few moments of hiding, you decide to casually walk over in their direction — hoping they spot you.

You just ease your way over. (Image via Giphy)

5. Once you get close enough, you pretend you’re doing something important or in deep thought to get them to notice you.

Yup, you look real freakin’ important now. (Image via Giphy)

6. You then attempt to make eye contact with them.

I command you to look at me. (Image via Giphy)

7. Your former DI starts to take notice of your subtle eye contact.

Who the f*ck is this person looking at? (Image via Giphy)

8. They finally semi-recognized you, but you act surprised like you didn’t recognize their face the moment you saw them checking out those adorable family fun genre DVDs.

Sergeant? Wow, I barely recognized you since I’m so mature these days. (Image via Giphy)

9. You start up a meaningless conversation with them. You show off how well you’re doing with your new unit.

What a show-off. (Image via Giphy)

10. But they congratulate you and even shake your hand before walking away. You’re more confused now than ever.

What just happened here? (Image via Giphy)

Also Read: 14 images that humorously recall your first firefight

11. Then you realize, this whole time you thought they were an a**hole, but they weren’t.

Unreal. (Image via Giphy)

Did you ever see your instructor outside of boot camp? Tell us your story in the comments below.