Military Life Frequently Asked Questions + Need To Knows
Happy Hump Day guys! Today I’m so excited to share some military life frequently asked questions with y’all! I get so many good questions and I wanted to have them answered all in one place for you guys. Feel free to ask me anything at anytime, either here or on social media and I will add the new questions as they come in! I hope this information is helpful to you, especially if you’re a new military spouse or girlfriend.
**This post contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, when you click certain links in this post. Thank you for your support! First I wanted to share some common terms that will be important throughout your time in the military especially if you’re significant other is a pilot. This would have been SO helpful to me in the beginning. Like, who knew there were so many dang acronyms?! It’s been almost three years now, and I learn a new one each day, it seems. If there are some important ones missing from the list, please let me know and I’ll add them!
Common acronyms + Terms to know
- UPT- undergraduate pilot training (where it all began!)
- SERE- Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (training program for military personnel)
- TDY- Temporary Duty (lasting no more than 139 days)
- AC- Aircraft Commander
- PCS- Permanent Change of Station (or a move. which isn’t actually that permanent haha)
- Milso- military significant other
- BAH- Basic Allowance for Housing
- DEERS- Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (you have to be enrolled in this to receive Tricare)
- Tricare- Military healthcare program
- FAIP- First Assignment Instructor Pilot
- IP- Instructor Pilot
- TSP- Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401(k)
- LES- Leaves and Earnings Statement (a pay stub)
- Commissary- the grocery store on base
- BX- Base Exchange (like a Wal-Mart, they have literally everything)
- OPSEC (operations security)- read more about what this means for military spouses and family members below*
Q: How long did you know Kevin before you got married?
A: Kevin and I dated for exactly one year before he proposed on New Years eve! Then we had a courthouse wedding in February and our “real” wedding in September of that same year.
Q: What is life like/going to be like as a military girlfriend and spouse?
A: While everyone’s experience is different, overall I would say it’s an adjustment and a learning experience. Not necessarily in a bad way though! I just mean that sometimes you’ll have your spouse around for weeks at a time and those times are great. And then they leave for TDYs or deployments and you have to adjust. You have to learn to be independent and supportive while they’re away. If the military asks you to move, you adjust and you move. But more than anything it’s an adventure! It never gets boring, and you get to see and do things that a lot of people don’t!
Q: What’s your advice for new military spouses/girlfriends?
A: My best advice for new military spouses and girlfriends is to just go with the flow. Things change SO often and decisions are sometimes made at the last minute. You just have to see it coming and go with it, otherwise you’ll always be frustrated. Just remember, your significant other is worth whatever comes your way and that the experiences you have and the good times will far outweigh the bad. There is no better feeling than when your husband comes home from deployment. It’s like your wedding day and Christmas combined, but better.
Q: What is the purpose of getting “courthouse married” before your wedding?
A: So this was a very difficult decision for me at first, but more on that in a second. Ultimately, the reason we decided to go ahead and get courthouse married was because Kevin found out last minute that he would be deploying in May (we got engaged New Years eve). He really wanted to make sure I had everything I needed while he was gone as far as insurance, access to the base, power of attorney, etc. Kevin’s a planner and this was something he really wanted to have checked off the list. At first I was not about it. I had looked forward to my wedding day for well, forever. I was afraid it would take away from our actual wedding and that people would be judge-y. I really wasn’t sure about it until right before we said “I do” haha.
Looking back though, I am SO glad we did this. We both had peace of mind while he was gone that I would be taken care of. Our wedding day was not less special. In fact it was the opposite. We didn’t have to worry about any paperwork because that was already taken care of. The day of our wedding our pastor was admitted to the hospital with kidney stones, so Kevin’s dad actually had to step in and perform our ceremony. If we hadn’t been married already, that would have been a MAJOR problem haha. But now we have a fun story to tell, and we got the added bonus of having Kevin’s dad perform our wedding. It was so special.
This is 100% a personal decision, but if you’re faced with the choice, I highly recommend doing it as long as everyone is one board.
Q: What’s your best advice for going through your husband’s first deployment?
A: Take it one day at a time. Seriously. You’re going to go through so many different emotions while he’s gone. The first three weeks will be so so hard. Give yourself time to cry and be sad and binge watch Netflix. It’s totally normal and quite honestly the only way to get it out of your system. No one is gong to judge you for being sad for a little bit. Set goals for yourself while he’s gone, whether it’s a workout goal, a home project, or whatever. Read books. I highly recommend finding a good devotional. Travel. Spend time with friends and family. Distractions are your best friend. Know that he will call you when he can. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from him from a few days. Wifi is hard to come by depending on where they’re at, so don’t worry. After a few weeks, you’ll start getting used to him being gone and each day will get a little easier. You’ll start to feel normal. Then the last two weeks will be even harder, believe it or not, than when he left. At least that was my experience, and I’ve heard the same from other military wives. The days will drag by. You’ll be mad for absolutely no reason haha. But it’s ok! That just means he’ll be home soon and homecoming will be the best day of your life.
*Something that I was not aware of during my husband’s first deployment was OPSEC, and it’s actually pretty important. These are some important rules we all have to follow when our significant others or family members are on deployment, TDY, or just a normal mission. Especially with how big social media is today, these rules are crucial to follow in order to help keep our significant others safe.
- Never share the date/time of any mission.
- Don’t discuss the mission.
- Don’t share the exact location of your SO’s deployment/mission.
- Ultimately, you should never share anything you’re not comfortable with or that you’re not certain that you should be sharing.
For more on my experiences with deployment check out these blog posts:
Q: Any ideas/expectations you had about military life that turned out to be different?
A: I honestly had no idea what to expect. No one in my family is in the military so it was all very foreign to me. I will say I did not expect to have such a hard time with him being gone so often. I mean, I was single for like 3 years before he and I dated. So in my mind, I had this whole independence thing down. False. It’s a totally different kind of independent. I also had no idea how close the military community is. It truly is so cool to be apart of such a supportive group of people.
Q: What’s the hardest part about long distance?
A: We thankfully never had to deal with long distance while we dated, so just long distance in general was really hard the first time he left. Other than that, the hardest part is working around their schedule and the lack of WiFi. Their schedules are so different day to day that it’s nearly impossible to get on any kind of communication schedule. On top of that, if they’re deployed they’re most likely in a totally different time zone. I’m talking like a 10.5 hour time difference. So communication, or lack thereof, takes a lot of work, a lot of understanding, and a lot of patience.
Q: Do you live on base? If so, how do you like it?
A: We do not currently live on base, but Kevin did while he was in UPT and he really loved the convenience of it! I think in the future it will totally depend on where we are assigned. For example, if we end up overseas, there is a high likelihood we’d live on base. But being in Little Rock, it’s way more convenient to live off base just so that we are closer to the city and the things we like to do. It’s definitely a preference thing though, so you should do what you’re comfortable with!
Shop the Outfit: Chambray Top (similar) | Peplum Tee (similar) | Camo Faux Leather Leggings | Adidas Sneakers
I can’t leave without talking about this outfit for a second! This outfit is made up of items from my style challenge, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read about it here! I love this simple peplum tee paired with my new SPANX camo leggings from the Nordstrom sale. They are full price now but they are back in stock and if you don’t mind splurging, they’re so worth it. These sneakers are probably my favorite Nordstrom sale purchase. They are also back in stock and are still under $100! Hope the rest of your week is fabulous, and as always, thanks for stopping by! xo