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One thing that I get asked a lot is “how do you do it?”, “what’s your biggest advice for a new military spouse?” quite honestly, those are the hardest questions to answer, but I am going to try for you. Do we need a little background story? Where it all began? Where it’s at now? I have 8 years of this to write about so bear with me, and I hope to teach you all a little sumthin’ along the way.
End of senior year of high school, Markus and I had only been dating a little over a year, we shipped off to Basic Training for the Army. I. WAS. DISTRAUGHT. We spent every dang day together, now we have to be separated for four months, and only write letters. Heck no. HECK NO. We survived. Obvi. It was not easy. There were a lot of letters, a lot of emotions, some fights. I started my first quarter of college, away from anyone and everything I knew. He started Basic Training away from anyone and everything he knew. We were 18… IT WAS HARD.
Advice: Find your friends. The ones that are going to sit in bed with you and eat ice cream while you cry. The ones that are going to come visit you in college, when your boyfriend, your happy place is away. The ones that are there for a phone call whenever you need it. Just to listen, even if they don’t get it.
BOOM. Basic training D.O.N.E.
Now we pack Markus up, and bring him up to college. We lived in the same dorm hall. He joined ROTC, while being in the National Guard, which was what consumed his (our) life. I would not change that for the world. I think he chose such a good career route, and maybe Markus can guest blog about ROTC one day if there is interest. Anyway, like I said, ROTC was time consuming, in the best of ways, a lot of it by choice. We met the BEST people. Some lifelong friends, and awesome memories were made. Yes, they have to go “out to the field”, yes they leave for a couple months for trainings and internships during the summer.
Advice: Friends. Do you see a trend? Make sure you have that support. Whether they know anything about the military, or not. Find a hobby. Some thing you do when they are gone that makes you happy. I don’t remember what it was then…lol it was probably going to football games, and going to bars with my best friend… so that’s probably not a “hobby” whoops.
WE GRADUATED. We (I mean he) made it through ROTC. We also got ENGAGED! So, two weeks after we graduated, we got married. Then he left for BOLC… you see these acronyms? Yeah, you’ll get the hang of it. After BOLC, we were off to his first duty station. Good ole Fort Riley, Kansas. As you could imagine, it wasn’t our ideal place to go. Fort Riley brought lots of memories and lessons though. We lived in on post housing, we were lucky enough to snag a brand new never lived in house. He worked right down the road, and was able to come home for breakfast and lunch most days. Fort Riley is known for their heavy training schedule, and being called the “black hole”, a lot of people get stuck there, or PCS there…multiple times. Markus went on his first nine-month rotation here. He got sent to Korea. WHAT THE HECK AM I GONNA DO? I moved back home. We had only been there a year, I didn’t have super amazing friends (yet) there, I didn’t have a ‘real’ job (I babysat the most awesome kids), there wasn’t anything keeping me there, and we could save a lot of money monthly if I lived at my dad’s. So I did. As much as I loved having people to talk to and be around, I probably wouldn’t move back home ever again, for that long.
Advice: Do what’s best for you, and your mental health. Make care packages. Find a hobby. Work a job or two. Stay busy. You’ll hear people say that a lot. Staying busy helped me so much.
What did I do to stay busy? I worked at a boutique, and found the most amazing gym to go to. Shout out to The Camp Transformation Center- Vancouver, and my mother in law for going with me! Markus and I had a challenge to see who would be in better shape by the time he came back to Kansas. It was me, I won. Lol I was dang proud.
I decided to move back to Kansas a couple months early, I needed my own space back. So I reapplied for housing, packed up the dog and I, and my in laws helped me drive back. Hallelujah. OUR OWN SPACE. I’m an introverted extrovert, you’ll figure that out. Unpacked the best I could, enough to feel homey when he got back. I also got a ‘real” job!
Fast Forward. HE IS HOME. The absolute best feeling. It was a 4 AM welcome home ceremony, I thought my photographer was going to hate me. Luckily, she understands nothing is for sure until it happening. The time got pushed back a few times.
Advice: Never believe the timeframe the Army tells you. Hire a photographer. Homecoming is probably one of the BEST feelings, you’ll want those memories. Be gentle with your soldier, he is probably exhausted. Reintegration is a thing, you were just a part for 9 months, it might be hard to adjust to being TOGETHER again.
He is home. Now what? He might get some “block leave” time, take a vacation if you can. Spend quality time together. After that, they are back to their intense training schedules and daily work. We finally started making really good friends, I made some friends in the couple months I was waiting for him to come back. The hardest part about making friends in the military life style, is your always saying goodbye to someone, and hoping to meet again at another duty station.
Fast forward to March 2018 (he got home June 2017), you can do the math. We had our first BABY. Cooper joined our crazy world, in a beautiful hospital, on Fort Riley. He will forever have to say he was born in Kansas and I feel a little bit bad for him. HE lived his first 9 months of life in Kansas, so he won’t ever remember the crazy weather, dads crazy schedule, his first home, but we will make sure to remind him.
Sometime during the summer (I think) of 2018, we got PCS orders to Fort Lewis, WA. Thank goodness. The other options were not great, so we decided Washington was the best so Cooper could grow up closer to family, which is rare as a Military Brat. In December our packers and mover packed up or stuff, loaded it on a truck, and took it for us.
Advice: Decide whether you want the Army to move you, or you want to move yourselves. If you move yourselves, you’ll get reimbursed for moving expenses, and can sometimes pocket a little. We had the army move us this time, and it went pretty well. If you decide to have the army move you, empty your garbage cans before the packers come, do your dishes, and lock up anything you don’t want them to pack. They pack everything AS IS. Imagine what we found in our diaper genie 4+ months later…
On that note, stay tuned for our PCS adventure to WA, and more advice. If you are a new #milso and have any question, leave a comment, I can add in my answers to the next blog. If you are a seasoned #milso , leave your advice, and learning moments in the comments.
Stay confident <3