Family Life in the Military
Tradition, customs, and courtesies – these words describe the genetic make-up of the military. Outside of the above, the military is a close-knit community of service men and women being supported by unsung heroes — spouses and children who assists with upholding the commitment of serving the country.
While there are differences between civilian life and life in the military, the support doesn’t end when the military member retires or separates from active duty. Today, you will receive a bird’s eye view of family life in the military by learning about its lifestyle challenges and benefits.
From the moving, better known as permanent change in station or PCSing, to lengthy deployments, to living on base to getting a job, life in the military can present stressors for families such as:
- Adapting to changes
- Constantly adjusting
- Calling many places home
On the other hand, the military lifestyle brings about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some. The military life is one that provides stability and the key to traveling the United States and even overseas.
It’s no secret that the military provides every aspect of life:
- Education and Scholarships for Spouses
These are huge benefits for military families. Housing, healthcare and education are three of the hot topics in today’s economy, and the military provides all three at no cost.
For purposes of providing a glimpse into family life in the military, this article will focus on career and employment, moving, childcare, marriage and relationships, and military brats.
Career and Employment
The moment the service member takes the military oath, he or she has gained an employer – the U.S. Government.
While the government provides the military member with employment, military spouses are left to their own devices.
If the spouse lives on a military installation or is located near a military facility, he or she has the option of using the career resources on post. This includes learning how to build a resume, getting interviewing tips and obtaining other strategies for success during their job search.
For example, the Army’s Employment Readiness Program helps spouses become marketable to hiring managers by providing employment information such as skills, training, and education.
When spouses are not in direct proximity to the services provided, they can seek help from the following outside, independent sources:
- Career Coaches
- Resume Writing Services
- Employment Consultants
- Recruiting Agencies
- Job Fairs
Most military members work on base while spouses can decide whether they want to work on base or off base.
Even with this choice, maintaining a career can be tough for military spouses. This is why some spouses start their own virtual or remote business due to the continuous change in location, as some companies are not military friendly employers.
There are some spouses who are homemakers. They are not employed, take care of home and manage the children. These spouses may even home school their kids.
Military spouses also turn their hobbies such as quilting into side-gigs on Etsy, and other marketplaces where they can turn their passion into profit, a common practice in the civilian world.
It is important to note that certain states are looking to provide more help to military spouses when it comes to gaining employment.
The Utah Senate have proposed bills that will assist military spouses when they look for work.
For more information on Senate Bill 12 (S.B. 12), review the article in the St. George News, “Bill to Help Military Spouses Find Work When They’re Always On the Move.”
Moving as a Family in the Military
Research shows that the average military family moves every two to three years, while others move more often.
In fact, the Department of Defense suggests that one-third of service members move every year.
The constant moving takes a toll on the entire family, children included. Being uprooted to a new geographical location takes planning and preparation. Moving as a military family takes years to master.
After a few moves, military families become knowledgeable of the do’s and don’ts surrounding military moves. They become expert movers, share their knowledge with friends and answer questions.
Some moving tips from Move.Mil, the Official DoD Customer Moving Portal includes:
- Staying organized
- Creating a photo inventory
- Keeping an eye on the packers
- Keeping necessities out of reach to prevent from being put on the moving truck
- Documenting damages
Although moving is a process, it’s always one that requires care and attention on the part of the moving company and the military family being relocated.
The 2018 Blue Star Families Report shows that one of the highest stressors for family life in the military is child care.
However, the hardships women veterans face include time away from family and quality of life.
The Blue Star Families Report states, “Unlike their male counterparts, female service member respondents identified military family quality of life as a top issue of concern (their second top concern following time away from family), and a quarter of female veteran respondents cited lack of childcare during time in the military as their biggest stressor.”
For this reason, each branch of the military offers some sort of relief to help offset the costs of child care:
- The Army Emergency Relief offers up to $1,500 to help soldiers and spouses with the childcare fees that arise after a PCS.
- The Air Force Aid Society covers 20 hours of child care.
- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers up to $500.
For more assistance with child care options, visit Child Care Aware.
Marriage and Relationships
An old military joke says if the government wanted service members to have a spouse, they’d issue one. Remember, the military provides service members and families with every aspect of life.
Being married to an active duty member or in a relationship with a member of the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy or Coast Guard is not easy.
Unfortunately, relationships become strained. Divorce happens because some marriages simply do not work.
As a preventative measure, the military provides counseling for service members and their spouses.
Military families are encouraged to contact the local on-base chaplain or Military OneSource for help with marital counseling.
Life on children with a parent in the military is unpredictable. Same goes for children of mil-to-mil couples or dual-military couples.
But military children are some of the strongest kids in the world. They change schools every two years, on average.
They’ve endured moves, military transitions, and have made friends over and over again while saying hello to new ones.
Military children are always pushed beyond their comfort zones.
Once they become adults, they appreciate the smallest pieces of life that civilians take for granted.
For instance, they appreciate hearing someone being called sir or ma’am. They appreciate and understand that there’s no substitute for hard work.
They appreciate diversity. They appreciate tradition and come with a level of discipline that is needed in the world today.
Experiences After Life in the Military
When the military journey ends for a service member, some military families are excited to get out.
But once they are out, they have difficulty transitioning. For instance, depending on the status of the veteran, family members are left having to find their own health insurance.
This means no more medical or Tri-Care benefits. They no longer get that fancy card in the mail with the primary care physician’s (PCP) name on it.
Additionally, once life in the military ends, there’s no one to tell spouses and children what medical facility to go to.
There’s no one to tell them what type of insurance to get in the civilian world. These are all aspects of life that civilians handle on their own.
Most importantly, the insurance these families relied on so much in the military is not free in civilian life.
Health insurance, medical insurance, life insurance – it’s all on the individual person to determine which insurance company is trustworthy. And, it’s up to the person to decide how much they can afford to pay in insurance premiums.
As far as housing, if a family was accustomed to living on base, they are responsible for finding their own place to live. There’s no such thing as housing allowance in the civilian world.
While there are groups and organizations families can join for camaraderie there’s nothing like being a spouse and interacting with other military spouses. There’s no comparison to building friendships while the service member is away on duty.
When it’s time to move, there’s no one to come and pack up their belongings. This is a service that’s no longer free to them. There’s no one to move their items to the next location. Moving becomes a chore of the family.
Finally, there’s no showing a military ID card for benefits. Purses and wallets will now be filled with various cards for different benefits.
And, when these families shop, they will notice that everything is taxed. Nothing is tax-free, unless the state has tax-free days.
Contact Empire Resume for Career Planning
The Empire Resume team knows that life in the military is sharing tips, resources, and knowledge to help military families achieve success.
This is why we offer the following career resources:
- Resume Help
- LinkedIn Help
- Job Search Help
- Interview Help
- Employment Help
- Career Articles
- Military-to-Civilian Blog
We will ensure an individual’s career readiness, whether they’re living life in the military or they’ve made the transition into the civilian world.
One of the steps to having a happy family life in the military or out of the military is securing employment.
The minute you begin your job search, contact Empire Resume. Our professional resume writing services delivers results, guaranteed!
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.