I distinctly remember moving from my hometown in Cleveland, OH to my husband’s current duty station, Norfolk, VA.
I was a ball of emotions: scared, elated, excited. To be honest the first six months of my life here was excruciating. I had no friends and my husband was gone all the time. And the older I got the harder I found it was to make friends.
It wasn’t until I attended a military conference for MilSO entrepreneurs that my life changed. I was introduced to so many wonderful, kind, driven spouses in one weekend.
I’ve started to realize how important it is for MilSO’s to support each other in this sometimes crazy life. I can think of 100 reasons this is so important, but I won’t bore you with a list that long. Here are my top reasons and some life experiences from spouses who’ve received and given support.
Similar Life Circumstances: We all know how difficult this life can be from long separations, to moving, and starting all over. No one understands you like another MilSO. Having friends that just get it and let you vent about military life is so refreshing! One of my first friends in Norfolk was MilSO, and Life Coach, Megan Hall.
“Military spouses should support each other because no one can quite understand this life like another MilSO. This life can be lonely and difficult but with the right group of friends it can be exciting and interesting. No other place will you find such a diverse group of talented people as the MilSO community.”
Advice on getting involved: “There are a ton of military spouse groups such as Milspo Project in addition to FRG and military events. Go to a meeting or an event and introduce yourself. Make sure that before you leave you find out the best way to get in touch again. Making friends is a bit of work up front, but it’s SO worth it to have your next deployment buddy or person you can talk to that really gets it.”
If you are located in the Hampton Roads area, Megan hosts monthly meet-ups and has a Facebook community specifically dedicated to women’s support and empowerment.
Isolation can be devastating: I recently read a Slate article that said isolation may be more dangerous to our health than obesity. While, I think this may be a little dramatic it makes sense.
Our sense of community and belonging is imperative to being human. Navy Spouse, and InDependent Moderator, Kristine Gerahgty puts it best, "Life as a MilSO can be isolating, especially when civilian friends don’t always understand the unique idiosyncrasies of being a MilSO. One way I try to help a spouse when they are new to an area or new to this life is making sure they have all the right info. When I first became a spouse, I didn’t really didn’t have that kind of support. It’s the little things that help most, like having people over for dinner or touching base with a text. Knowing that you can have a good support system can make all the difference in the world.”
InDependent is a nonprofit related to the full wellness of MilSOs.
Networking Professionally: We all know how hard it can be to move so much and have to find a new job. Military spouses are a great support when finding a job. I work in a creative field and I’ve had a few spouses link me up with opportunities.
Most spouses have a large network and are ready and willing to help you in any way. There is a great Facebook Group dedicated to Professional Military Spouses. You can network, ask questions and receive advice related to your career. Check it out here.
Personal Fulfillment: Receiving support can be great, but it feels even better to give it. I feel great when I reach out to a spouse and connect with her on a deep level and form a new friendship.
Benefits to Family: Taking care of ourselves is so important, and receiving support from friends can have a benefit to our husbands and family members. Girlfriends can provide companionship that we can’t find anywhere else, and that in turn enables us to be better parents, spouses, and friends.
Forming a new family: Family does not have to be only blood relatives. You can create a family for yourself wherever you live. It’s about finding people who love and support you. For example, Navy MilSO, Kiley, had a good friend of hers take her out for Mother’s Day. “My friends were thoughtful and took me out to lunch since my husband was deployed. It was super sweet.”
Diversity of Friendships: There are a multitude of spouses at most duty stations. This means that whatever you are into from running, crafting, to drinking wine (yes, this counts as hobby) you are bound to find a friend with similar interests. Our diversity is what makes us a strong and resilient community. Navy MilSO, Taylor Miller says,"The best thing about military spouses is that while we do have that one common denominator, there's way more to us than that. We are a diverse population with varying backgrounds, skill sets and beliefs. That single common denominator may be enough to make that initial connection but, the deeper connection stands to foster a tremendous amount of personal growth."
Joy of Receiving: I know I love getting snail mail or packages. It makes going to the mail box so much more exciting. Gift giving is a great way to show support for a MilSO. To bless the MilSO in your life, introduce her to MilSO Box. Each month she will receive different items related to a theme, all intended to brighten her day.
These are just a few of many reasons we need to support each other as MilSO’s. Giving and receiving support can be life changing for both people. It’s simply a matter of making it happen.