Let's get the tough stuff out of the way: Sometimes, you have to be away from your partner for months at a time. You may have to act like a single parent. You may have to move – a lot. Good thing there are plenty of military spouse benefits, too.
First, you're not alone. There are millions of military spouses living on- and off-base throughout the world. There are about 1.8 million active-duty military spouses and 5.8 million surviving spouses of veterans. That's millions of people (mostly women, at 93% of military spouses) who know your lifestyle.
You may be surprised by the community that forms organically and quickly when you arrive at a new destination after receiving orders. Support is always nearby, so military spouses should always feel comfortable reaching out if they need help. Around 74% of active-duty military spouses have children, and often there are opportunities to get together with other parents in the same situation as you.
The support that comes with being married to an enlisted soldier or officer doesn't just end with good friendships. There are plenty of military spouse perks, and it's worth your while to take advantage of as many as possible. It's a big upside of being part of the extended Armed Forces family.
Here are five great military spouse benefits you can start using as soon as you've registered for the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System — DEERS for short.
MyCAA, which stands for My Career Advancement Account, offers scholarships up to $4,000 for military spouses to get the career training they need to start a portable career. You can register for certification programs that make it easy to break into some of the most sought-after industries, like healthcare and information technology. MedCerts offers eligible online courses that can be completed at home, wherever that may be.
You don't have to rely on your spouse to save money and get something to eat on base. Military spouses can go shopping and go out to lunch, too.
Working out on an Army base without having someone yell at you? It sounds pretty good! Military spouses get access to the gym as well as many recreational classes. Physical fitness is a great way to reduce stress and get in shape. You'll feel confident and look fit, too.
Everyone wants to stay positive in the face of challenging situations, but the reality is that being a military spouse can indeed be difficult. But the armed services want to help. Free and confidential counseling is available, even when there's no clear medical condition associated with it. It's always a good idea to talk to someone when you're struggling. Therapy can help you be even stronger for your family.
Hawaii? South Korea? Guam? There are so many exciting and interesting places that military spouses get to live. Post those photos on social media – your friends are going to be jealous!
If you haven't taken advantage of all the opportunities the U.S. armed services offer military spouses, you're missing out on the best part of the lifestyle. Make the most of your family's time by excelling in all ways, including professionally, physically, and mentally.