Members of our Honoring Military and Veterans (HMV) employee resource group (ERG) share how they’ve navigated deployments, relocations and more:
I would certainly tell my younger self to embrace my relationships with people. I was the spouse of a flight engineer. That meant many days, weeks and months without my spouse— and my children without their father. We made the most of the time we had with him, but it was often few and far between. With a deployed family member or spouse, the relationships I made with other people helped me feel stronger and more positive. It’s not always an easy adventure, but the relationships I made helped make our time apart a little brighter.
I was a military spouse for 18 years prior to my husband’s retirement from the US Air Force. Over the course of his service, we welcomed our 3 children, endured 7 deployments (each 6 months to a year in length), regular TDYs (temporary duty travel) and relocated 5 times.
At the beginning of our marriage, I didn’t fully understand how challenging this lifestyle would be, how much time would be spent without my spouse and the sacrifices that I’d need to make along the way. Putting my career on the back burner, co-parenting from opposite sides of the world, missing holidays, weddings, and deaths was brutal. However, I quickly learned who I am and what I’m capable of. The best piece of advice I received was, “take it one day at a time, and find the positive in any situation,” which is what I did.
Frequent moves also allowed us to experience new cultures and meet so many interesting people. Some of my best friends are military spouses located around the world, and I consider them family. We’ve leaned on each other through childbirth, deployments and every curveball life has thrown at us along the way.
Being a military spouse helped me grow and shaped me into who I am today. These experiences and relationships would not have been possible without leaning into the lifestyle, trusting my capabilities and finding the positives in each situation.
We’re fortunate because my husband doesn’t deploy for months or years at a time. Because of his position, he leaves frequently for missions. When he walks out the door, we never know exactly when he’ll return.
In the military, we know that Murphy’s Law goes into effect as soon as your loved one walks out the door. While they’re away, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. I make sure to have several power of attorneys (I recommend one of each) to cover everything from getting a new ID, to purchasing a vehicle. The local JAG (Judge Advocate Generals) office usually has a list of all the Power of Attorneys that they offer.
I also manage by making friends who I can count on at my station. When my daughter was younger, having a social life was easier because of all her playdates. But as time went on, she grew up and all of our friends got relocated. Being a military spouse can be a lonely life and it’s really hard to consistently try to make new friends. Holidays are often quiet because traveling to see family is expensive. Often, our holidays are just our immediate household. To cope, I commit to seeing my old friends for a long girl’s weekend each year. Working at Discover has also given me a great set of friends that I know I’ll never lose contact with when it’s time for us to relocate.
The best part about a military spouse is getting to hear about the adventures my husband goes on. There’s a whole other side to the military that’s quite amazing. When he travels around the world, he’s able to do “touristy” activities. He tries to bring us something from every trip so that we get to enjoy a small piece of his adventures.
Honestly, at first I felt really jealous he got to travel to amazing places, while I sat at home. Eventually, I came to the realization that it’s a great opportunity for him. I know that if the roles were reversed, I wouldn’t want him to hold me back. He never would’ve been able to see and do everything he’s done if he didn’t join the Air Force.
I’ve been an Air Force spouse for 12 years. During that time I’ve received a lot of advice about being a military spouse (some good, some bad). I try to remember that every person’s experience is different and this life is what I choose to make of it.
The biggest thing I’ve learned to accept is that our children and I will make sacrifices for this life too, and they may go unnoticed. I’ve spent countless milestones away from family and friends. I’ve had to put my own personal and professional goals on the back burner at times to support my husband and ensure our children have the stability they deserve. I’ve watched our children navigate the challenges of a life they didn’t choose.
Through each deployment, I’ve learned that I’m much stronger than I thought I could be. I’ve learned to set aside my pride and admit when I need help. I know that being kind and patient with myself is just as important as being kind and patient with my spouse. And when the day has you drained, cereal for dinner is acceptable.
That said, my military network has become a family to me. They are the support system that speaks my language and understands exactly what this life entails. Like all relationships, it takes work and investment in each other, but I truly think our bond has made all of this worth it.
Interested in joining the Discover team? Explore careers with us.