I live in an area that is about an hour from base. Needless to say, people here are not familiar with the military subculture and do not know much about our unique challenges and advantages. Many of my experiences have been good, but there are many things we deal with every day that are completely foreign to those not part of the military community.
For instance, there is the job arena. Since marrying my sailor, I set myself up as a freelancer because I knew my life would not be lived in one place. Yes, I tried to get a job, but everywhere I applied, I was over-qualified (employer-ese for “You’re not going to be around here too long, so why hire you?”) It is illegal to say that, but we have all been through it. Unless you work in a job that is of a temporary nature, or are in a health profession which is starving for people in some places, you have a hard time finding a job that is worth your energy.
So many people are doing what I did and taking their work home. This is where the sub-culture comes in. We LOVE home parties. As a result, you can’t swing a cat and not find someone who owns one of those cottage industries that sells kitchen or scrapbooking products. But how does this fly with the civilians? It does not. If you are having a makeup party, they don’t want to come because they don’t “need anything right now,” or they just buy a lipstick. If you have a kitchen party, they don’t come because they “have enough Tupperware.” They do not understand that to the military spouse, a home party is not simply a demonstration, and you will not be pressured to purchase the products shown. It is a way to socialize when Hubby is deployed. It is a way to get in touch with your girlfriends and get out for a night without the kids, though sometimes the kids are in tow, and that’s fine, too. I have not been to a home party where the host has not made some provision for the children. It always happens. The demonstrator does not always expect many purchases because she is usually a military spouse, too. It is a way for her to get out of the house, too.
We are different as military spouses. The workforce is only one of the many areas in which we face challenges and different triumphs than the rest of the population. We need to educate the public a bit if we live far from our military spouse buddies. Then again, why not have a party?
What challenges do you think we face that are different than the civilian world? Yes, some are obvious, but what makes our experience unique?
I am off to SpouseBUZZ this weekend to share experiences with my fellow military spouses. If any of my readers are there, please jump out of the crowd and introduce yourself. You may be featured in an article or two. I am always looking for people to interview for the many magazines and websites for which I write. Maybe you will be one of my features!
As always, to the military spouses out there, thank you for your service.