Thursday, May 10, 2012

Military Spouse Wanted

This is what the ad should have said.

Seeking energetic, upbeat individual with finely tuned organizational skills. Candidate should be willing to relocate frequently*, usually far away from family and friends; able to manage household maintenance issues as they arise, most often when partner is deployed; and have a good sense of humor (which you will need) or at least a deep appreciation for the ironic. Additional skills considered helpful but not necessary: enjoys long periods of solitude; possesses great social skills; and a willingness to be a single parent if required. Full medical and dental coverage provided. For more information a How-to Manual is provided. *previous moving skills are not necessary but considered very helpful.

How to be a Naval Spouse
They come from different parts of the country, different education levels, different socio-economic backgrounds, all faiths and political partys are represented. A naval spouse can be one of the most challenging jobs youll ever have. It can also be one of the most rewarding. Below is a short guide on some aspects we have found helpful in becoming a successful spouse to your career Navy service member.

If you enjoy a challenge, being on your own and discovering your inner strengths through crisis, then this job is for you. Deployments can range from four months to one year. The ability to problem-solve and make crucial decisions independent from your spouse is critical. Self-reliance is key to success but a willingness to ask for help is essential for survival.

There is no way to get around it you need a boatload of patience in order to be successful. Dig deep, its in there somewhere. Call on whatever reserves you may have, because your patience will be tried repeatedly throughout a 20-year career: either in the commissary with long lines and screaming kids, or in the pharmacy with long waits and screaming kids, or during the PCS season (Permanent Change of Station) involving multiple lines in multiple locations in order to process out from one duty station to another.

The average Navy family will relocate every 2.9 years over a 20-year career. Preparation is key to transforming an ordeal into an adventure. The first step in the process towards a successful move is contacting your spouses Personnel Support Department (PSD a.k.a. PTSD) which will then set you on track to the Personal Property office to set up your HHG (Household Goods). Be sure to have a copy of your spouses orders in triplicate. Additionally, a current Power of Attorney will prove crucial nothing can happen without the POA, you need the Power to take control.

Purchase a good set of tools and familiarize yourself with how they feel and what they are used for. Home Maintenance for Dummies is suggested for reference. Equally important is having a reliable mechanic and/or maintenance man on speed-dial. Years of study have shown that as soon as a spouse deploys whatever was fully operational with either the house or car will require urgent attention within 24 hours of his departure. Be prepared.

To offset the many challenges you face as a military spouse one of the greatest benefits are the friends you will make with other military spouses. Theyve been there done that. They understand better than your family or friends back home or even at times (or perhaps most times) your spouse, the trials and tribulations of setting up a household, getting kids enrolled in schools, the how-tos and where-fors of finding sports teams for your kids (because you moved after the local tryouts had already taken place), dentists that take your health care, etc. They are always there to lend an ear or have a shoulder ready when youre convinced youve reached your tipping point. You cannot survive without your fellow sister-spouses, they are critical to your success. Cultivate them, care for them, keep them.

You will be frequently required to attend social engagements with individuals you have little in common with except that both of your spouses are in the Navy. Polished social skills will be most helpful when you engage in conversations. Additional tips would be to always have on hand in the cupboard some sort of go-to appetizer for when your husband calls and asks what are you doing? for me that is code for Im about ready to get hit with something that wasnt on my to-do list like attending a get together at the Commanding Officers house in an hour oh and your spouse is tied up at work and will be meeting you there.

More than 28 years ago as a bride-to-be I was given an apron that read “Navy Wife: Toughest Job in the Navy.” I was young, thought it was cute but kind of goofy, and more importantly wondered why I’d even need an apron. The apron was retired long ago from overuse, on one of our many moves it did not make the pre-move purge, but it reminds me today on Military Spouse Appreciation Day that this job of being a military spouse (note the more PC shift from “Navy wife” to spouse – shows just how long I’ve been working this gig) is tough. Over the years my willingness to move may have dampened (move 13 will take place next month) and perhaps my sense of humor in dealing with military bureaucracy tends to now move more towards the ironic but in this job I have been richly rewarded with experiences and friendships that will last a lifetime and I am glad I answered that ad my husband-to-be put out there so long ago. “Toughest Job in the Navy?” Bring it on.

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