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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Military Widow as a Cash Cow

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Military Widow as a Cash Cow

This is something I always have in the back of my mind. I hope and pray that it never happens to our family. We've been lucky at our current assignment, at least for the last two years. My husband's trips out of town consist of forays to Ft Bragg and DC and a few places in between. He stays gone maybe a few weeks to three months at most. We have been lulled into complacency. At his new assignment, it will be back to a combat unit, back to a unit that deploys, back to the heartache and sadness of visiting the spouses of fallen warriors, back to the worry and's not a matter of if but when. I am absolutely dreading it. For many of you, you are right there, right now. We always hear of the troubles spouses go through, trying to keep their financial house in tell you the truth...I never thought of the flip-side, especially after some of the changes that have been put in place.

I read an article on Friday from the New York Times, entitled - Military Kin Cop with Loss and Gain. I'd like you to stop and read it. Did you know the military has increased the death benefit from a few thousand to $100,000? Many of you already know that life insurance amounts have increased. There is also more help available with housing, education and medical care...more than ever before. You are even provided with the help of a financial advisor, to come up with a plan for your future as well as your childrens'. According to the article, only a small percentage of widows take this advice. Many widows end up blowing through all the money....I have seen it happen myself....many are also looked at as a cash cow by relatives coming out of the woodwork. Can you imagine that? I guess money can bring out the best and the worst in people! That is just unbelieveable!

What can you do now to put yourself ahead, should you ever find yourself in such a situation? Follow the steps below. I can honestly tell you, if I am ever meant to be in such a situation, I want to make sure my family is taken care of.....that I am independent enough to run the household, that I am aware of what the Army and our government owes me, that I look out for my childrens' well being and that I can grieve and reflect on my own time...and dime, without any distractions.

Be sure to understand each of these points:

  • Know where everything is. Know where all your financial records are to include your wills, insurance policies, bills, car titles, home records, mortgages records and anything that is of importance to you and your family. I personally run the finances in our house. It's just easier when my husband comes and goes all the time. This gives me the confidence too, to know where we stand financially and there can be no surprises for us. I also have my husband tell me (and I tell him should something happen to me), what means something to him from our household junk. My husband is a stamp collector and has many thousands of stamps, but I can still pick out which collections are dear to him, and which ones I can then pass on to his children.
  • Set yourself up to be financially secure should the inevitable happen. The $500,000 life insurance from SGLI and military death benefit just won't be enough to sustain you over the long haul. I want to be able to do what I want and when I want, without having to worry about where the money is coming from. You can replace your husband's income and live off the interest from his life insurance if you purchase ten times his income. Please make sure it is term life insurance and not one of the other products insurance agents peddle. Shop around and make sure the policy is the right one for someone in the military. For example, you want the policy not to have a war exclusion cause! Because of my husband's high risk job, I have only found one company that offers this benefit at a reasonable price. Be sure to read about it here.
  • Know that there are some books written on the subject. I didn't even know this myself. The best one out there is
    Military Widow: A Survival Guide
    Military Widow: A Survival Guide by Joanne M. Steen and M. Regina Asaro. There are also some others out there that cover other aspects of losing a loved one. As much as I don't want to wish something like this on anyone, I do follow the mantra of trying to be prepared...not so much for my benefit, but for my children.
  • You can find support and others who have gone through similar circumstances. One great thing about being military, is the comradiery of the spouses. Visit the Society of Military Widows. There you can find support and comfort from others...just like you. They even have a new widow checklist on their site. It's great to have family and friends too, but it just isn't that same as what you can get from others who are in your situation.
  • Vow to be a part of your family readiness group. I can honestly tell you...I've been lucky to have been a part of some solid groups in the past. If you have an active group of spouses, they can easily organize themselves into a support system for that widow. Years later, I met up with a widow again at an Army Ball function (she gets invited every year), and she told me she would never forget the meals, the laundry and household being taken care of, the children being driven to school and everything that was done for her. She didn't realize it until later, how helpless she was, and she said without our support, she doesn't know if she'd ever have gotten back up again. Now, I will never forget what she told me and vowed to make sure my next family readiness group is close and has a plan. This is something you can do now too.
Sorry to start of the week with such a glum subject, but you know me. If you've read any of my posts, you know I like to be prepared for just about anything. I like to learn and grow from mistakes. I would like you to do the same! Does anyone have any tips on how to survive something like this? Has anyone helped a widow...any widow....get back on her (or even his, the widower) feet? Please do share.

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Blogger Linda said...

This is great information to have out on your blog. Too many spouses fall between the cracks...they either missed some of what was being told to them in their grief (which is completely understandable) or were not told it at all. There is a LOT out there for spouses and families of active duty military who die...many benefits for those whose spouses die in the line of duty...but unless there is someone there to let them know they have access to all of this, they lose out...and the military doesn't come chasing them with a handful of bills saying, "you forgot this!".

Kudos on this post!

March 31, 2008 at 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand you trying to see the flip side of being a military widow and being a military spouse tryig to prepare yourself and others if this sktution arrived at your doorstep, as it did mine. Be thankful that it hasn't come knocking at your door and you have time to prepare and acknowledged that this reality might come. As far as a life lessons judging what military widows do, it isn't really a life lesson you have encountered. You see t from someone looking in, until you've walked in the shoes of a military widow don't judge if the blew through it or if they didn't take advantage of the benefits, life after you loose your soul mate, you can't comprehend time nor anything else. I am a military widow who is 6 months out and my mind and heart is still in July. Have a taking advantage of the financial advisor yet, no because I haven't web aware of how much time has passed. My life lesson to you don't speak on a life lesson or situation that your feet have never filled the shoes of.

January 24, 2011 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I am so incredibly sorry for your loss and obviously there is nothing I can say or do to make that hurt go away. I don't always blog about my own life lessons but sometimes, I blog of things I have no knowledge of. I have very dear friends and unfortunately more than one who has encountered such a loss, and I wouldn't think of talking about such a sensitive topic without getting their input. Some of the advice above came from them.

Please know that there are people who pray for you and think about you. Sorry I cannot offer more.

January 24, 2011 at 7:15 AM  

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