You’re dating a service member.
I know, I know–the uniform really helps. But now that you’ve met your special someone, what can you expect from military life? You don’t have a military ID (and can’t get on to most bases), you aren’t the next-of-kin to get info during deployments, and you’re not getting the warmest welcome from the spouses of your significant other’s co-workers. How can you support your significant other when the military doesn’t recognize you as anyone important?
Well, for starters, you are important! Every military spouse started where you did, and for every salty spouse who doesn’t extend the warmest welcome, there are plenty more who’d love to get to know you and answer questions you might have. Your service member needs your unwavering support while they focus on their mission!
But sometimes it’s hard to get involved with military life when you’re not really “allowed…” (I’ve been there, I know how it feels). What do you do next?
Here are some tips:
Have your service member talk to his or her command Family Readiness Officer, Ombudsman, or FRG Leader. It’s often common for significant others to be added to email lists while a unit is deployed. Your significant other can ask to have you added to those phone trees and email lists. They can sometimes have you attend pre-deployment briefings, too. You may even receive the same materials at the deployment briefing that the spouses receive. The only difference between you and a spouse is a ring and a marriage certificate; you both support the mission and the service member.
Find a support group online. One of my closest MilSpouse friends, Dani, found herself alone and unsure of what to do next when her boyfriend (now husband) was deployed to Afghanistan. She lived in a town where there wasn’t a huge military community, and she didn’t have access to any other military spouses to guide her. Looking for advice, comfort, and support, she found groups on Facebook, started blogging, and found other military spouse bloggers (like me!) to connect with. Don’t underestimate social media, but beware of the haters–they will be waiting…
Accept that military life will never make 100% sense all the time…and it certainly won’t be fair. I hated hearing people say I was “issued” to my significant other, and I either needed to get on board and roll with the punches, or hit the road. I quickly learned that missed birthdays, 24 hour watch billets, barracks checks, and new orders weren’t exactly going to make my relationship easier. But as soon as I accepted that military life isn’t always fair, it allowed me to start appreciating the time with my service member more than I had before.
Find great information from military family support organizations! I might be tooting my own horn here, but the National Military Family Association prides itself on strengthening the ones who stand behind the uniform. And yes, that’s you, significant other. Our team of experts is here to provide you with news, information, and guidance on issues surrounding military life. Everything you might want to know–from TRICARE to Post-9/11 GI bill info to PCS moves–can be found on our website, MilitaryFamily.org.
Subscribe to this blog! You’ll get all the important information about the in’s and out’s of issues affecting military families from our website, but if you want the real-deal, nitty-gritty stories from the homefront, this blog is where you want to be. We’ve got advice on how to Survive and Thrive at specific military bases, how to win at Military Balls, and even how to fill out a US Postal Service customs form to send your love a care package. If it’s anything about your military life, it’s here!
Being a military boyfriend or girlfriend is a special time and a special honor. It’s something your civilian friends just don’t fully understand; but there are plenty of ways to connect, learn about military life, and be as supportive as any spouse. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment, or engage with us on our social media channels!
Are you a military significant other? What has been the hardest thing for you to overcome?
Posted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager