5 Things I’ve Learned as an (LDR) Military Spouse
Military spouse life has always been an interesting topic for me. It’s something that feels both inclusive and exclusive. Inclusive because I mean, I am one, to begin with; and exclusive because at the end of the day, I still have so much to learn.
I’m big on sharing things I’ve learned with my readers, so here’s one of my first attempts at being a military spouse blogger. Keep reading for the 5 things I’ve learned as an (LDR) military spouse.
1. Always Have a Plan B
All the sudden changes used to make me throw my hands up in exasperation. I'd get all worked up with how plans would change *just* *like* *that*. I’ve already talked about how our (first) wedding almost got canceled in a past entry, so I won’t get into it any further. But basically, I’ve learned how to deal with a number of “surprises”.
Now, I just think of the next option available and take it from there.
P.S. A good friend of mine told me about the wonders of travel insurance. It's your bonafide plan B once your partner tells you s/he can’t go on that trip anymore because they have to go underway.
2. Buy From the ITT Office
I’m fortunate to have the means to tag along with my husband whenever he has training elsewhere or he’s back on shore. It’s quite funny really because I think of these little pockets of time together as mini vacations — even though they range anywhere between 1 week to 6 months.
My husband and I love making memories and trying new things. So we always make it a point to check the Information, Tickets & Travel (ITT) office on base. We’ve managed to score discounted tickets for Disney parks, a county fair, and several museums.
The best part is, ITT discounts are available in both CONUS and OCONUS military bases. Speaking of, I’ve got a Cava and Chocolate tasting scheduled sometime next month. I’m beyond thrilled, you guys. I love how my visits to Spain broaden my liquor palate! Haha!
3. Take Advantage of the MYCAA Scholarship
In my opinion, the MYCAA is one of the best benefits of military affiliation. Essentially, the My Career Advancement Account (MYCAA) Scholarship gives eligible military spouses financial assistance for education. Tuition assistance goes as high as $4,000 and can be used toward a license, certification, or an Associate’s degree.
The beauty of the MYCAA scholarship is the fact that if you’re an eligible military spouse, the opportunity is yours to take. You don’t have to go through hoops and take dozens of exams to be qualified for the scholarship. It’s pretty simple. As long as you fit the criteria below, you’re automatically entitled to it.
Taken from the MYCAA website:
Spouses of service members on active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2 and O-1 to O-2 who have successfully completed high school and have the ability to request tuition assistance while their military sponsor is on Title 10 military orders are eligible. Spouses married to members of the National Guard and reserves in these same pay grades are eligible.
Graduating, getting married, and leaving the corporate world never really stopped my “want” to learn. In the past, I've enrolled myself in a handful of online courses and workshops — most of them paid with a hefty fee. This is what makes the MYCAA scholarship just a godsend for me.
MYCAA affiliated schools have a ton of programs to choose from too. They range from fields of medicine to business, academic to skilled trades. I chose the Social Media and Mobile Marketing certification from the University of Texas at El Paso. It was a no-brainer. After all, I’m a blogger with a background in digital advertising who thrives on social media. I basically bookmarked the program the first time I saw it.
Seriously, guys. If you’re eligible and you want to learn, don’t let the MYCAA option pass you by.
4. Don’t Panic when Everything (Sort of) Feels Temporary
I’ve been married for over 2 years and there are still times when I feel as if my future is up in the air when it comes to “concrete plans”. It’s hard to make long-term commitments because I usually fly in and out of the country quite a lot.
Yes, traveling is amazing and I'm so SO fortunate that I get to do it a lot. But, let me be the first to tell you that the anxiety I feel from the words “temporary” and “short-term” can be a serious problem.
As much as it pains me to admit, I’m not exactly a "go-with-the-flow" kind of a girl. I'm the kind that looks forward to a new year because forecasting and setting my goals give me life. The thing is, since my location, timeframe, and priorities can change so easily, traveling turns into a double-edged sword. Opportunity costs come in the form of turned down employment opportunities because I want more freedom to visit my husband.
And I know it’s all on me. I've made my decisions and I stick by them. But it's still a little overwhelming. I know eventually things are bound to get better once my husband moves to his shore duty, but daaaaarn, this 2-year wait has been quite a ride.
5. Accept that Missing People is a Way of Life
I’ve called Manila, Rota, and San Diego all home at one time. But the truth is, they only turn into a home when I’m with the people I love, which brings me to my point: I’ve come to realize I’m constantly missing people.
I miss Vergs when he’s out at sea and I’m in Manila. I miss my family and friends when I’m in San Diego. And I miss Dette, my first ever milspouse friend, who’s just PCS-ed over to Yokosuka, Japan, now that I’m in Spain.
I’m. Always. Missing. People. Then again, that’s what the digital age is for, right?
And there you have it. Those are my 10 cents on military spouse learnings so far.
Again, I've clearly got such a long way to go, so I'll probably be making more of these lists once we PCS to a new location. OH MY GOODNESS, YOU GUYS. That's going to be yet another amazing chapter of our life! <3
P.S. There were so many more things I wanted to include in the list. But I felt like they’d be better suited in a “things I’ve learned while in Spain” article. Now, that’s something I can’t wait to start writing!