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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Double the Trouble for Army Working Wives

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, September 22, 2008

Double the Trouble for Army Working Wives

This topic does come up quite a bit when I talk to other military wives. We lament to ourselves about the job situation and all the moving around. Today, I have a guest author, Kelly Kilpatrick, who has blogged on this issue. I may not agree with all her finer points, but I thought I would put the article out there, and let you make your comments. I'll add mine below as well. With that being said, I think it's an important topic, and I do know there are organizations and individual women, who are trying to make a difference and affect some kind of changes in how things are done.

It’s not enough that their husbands have to fight wars that they may not believe in for the sake of their country; it’s not enough that they have to constantly live with the fear of that final knock on the door that signals the worst; it’s not enough that their children grow up without their fathers for most of their lives; what adds to the misery is that they’re penalized for having careers of their own. Military wives are not your run-of-the-mill women – they have the fortitude and courage to take on a life with a man they know is in a dangerous and dicey occupation and the strength and determination to make their lives and that of their children as wonderful as can be without the presence of an adult male. But then, when they’re punished for having lives of their own, it’s unfairness in the worst possible way.

  • Professionals like teachers, doctors and lawyers who move from state to state or country to country with their husbands are forced to adapt to the local laws that govern their respective professions. This means that they must sit for further exams to reinforce their qualifications even though it’s not totally necessary. New licenses are not only time-consuming and taxing, they’re also expensive because of the fees involved. If there’s even a smidgen of a chance that they may move back to the place they’re transferred from, they must pay through their noses to maintain multiple licenses in as many states.
  • Since they work full time, they face a tough task in finding suitable child care options each time they’re forced to move.
  • If they’re pursuing an education, they are forced to pay extremely high fees when they don’t move with their husbands or forced to forego credits if they do move. Not many institutions offer concessions to military wives who must move and uproot their lives to keep their families together.
  • Businesswomen are some of the worst hit – they must close shop in one place and open up again at a completely new location, often having to conform to local laws and regulations and apply for permits as well.
  • Having to move often means that military families don’t put down good money on a home of your own. While this naturally means that they don’t have the advantage of owning equity, there’s another downside – they don’t get to itemize deductions on their tax returns and so do not get back the money they spend on preparing for various licensure exams.
  • Most organizations are hesitant to employ military wives since they know they’re liable to up and leave any time.
Unless these and other issues are resolved to some degree of satisfaction, there’s always going to some form of grumbling and antimony directed at the government from military families.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of the best online dating service. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com. Of course I'm going to add my two cents in here. We have moved about a dozen times in my husband's Army career. In that time, I have thrown myself into volunteer work at my husband's unit, in the form of the Family Readiness Group (FRG), in our community, both civilian and military, as well as my childrens' schools. I was happy with that throughout the years.

Now that our kids are somewhat self-sufficient at 9 and 11, I am venturing back out into the working world. I decided to start out part time, because I am still involved very heavily in volunteering and do enjoy that. I interviewed and got a job in a field I love, travel and customer know how I like to help people:-)) I think I got the job in large part, because I have done so much with my volunteer service and not just because of my job resume before I had my babies.

Now, I have friends, who ALWAYS find a job, wherever they are stationed. They look forward to the challenges and different work environments wherever they go. They are for the most part....happy. Even here, overseas, it is fairly easy to find "just a job".

Now when we start talking careers, that's where it may get a bit sticky. Yes, I have friends who are nurses, teachers and one is a physician's assistant, another a lawyer. Every time they move, they have to shell out more cash to get their licenses and requirements taken care of in their new location. They have all spent thousands of dollars out of pocket, getting geared up to work. Not to mention finding a job, which in some military locations, can be limited, especially overseas and in small towns.

My neighbor, who is a nurse, and a very good one at that, is unable to find a job here overseas. Her only option was working on post at our health clinic, being a school nurse or doing mundane physicals for some of the civilian American companies working on post. To keep up some of her licensing requirements and training, she has opted to volunteer for the Red Cross and ended up doing the same work as some of the paid nurses at the clinic, side-by-side. How's that for your ego?

I do know there are military spouses out there trying to affect a change. Read Laura Dempsey's article The Military vs. Marriage. Laura is a lawyer and details her career frustrations as well as some of the points already brought up above.

Please weigh in and share your experiences. What do you think can be done to help military wives in their careers? Do you think these issues are affecting soldiers and their willingness to stay in the military? Let's hear it!

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Blogger tootie said...

I know firsthand how difficult it can be finding a job with frequent moves.

But I'm not sure what the military can do to make it easier. The base family support center has been helpful, doing all they can.

I'm actually thinking of starting a career in freelance writing, that way I can continue my work with every move. And, like you, I enjoy doing volunteer work in the community!

September 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I have three degrees, two of them master's degrees. I married my husband six months after I got out of grad school and now make my money as a freelance writer. It suits me, but it sure wasn't what I was planning to do when I made the choice to attend grad school. Sometimes, I get a little bummed out about it, but marrying my husband was absolutely the right thing to do. I would take him over having a regular job any day. Plus, I get to live in Germany.

September 27, 2008 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

In today's world, women leave college and expect to be able to have it all. We want the career, home, and family of our dreams. We expect these will be challenging, but possible to maintain. Military wives, to a certain degree, need to adjust our expectations. My husband and I have moved an average of once a year in our five year marriage, primarily due to training.

When I chose to marry a military officer, I knew that, should I choose to have a career, I would sacrifice much more in time and cost than the average American woman to pursue said career.

I agree with tootie. I am not sure that there is much more the military can do. Short of affirmative-action type legislation (which I believe would be totally inappropriate, given the voluntary nature of today's military), I cannot think of any additional services the government could provide. Women who choose to be a military spouse must weigh the cost before marrying. I may not have the career I am capable of and dreamed of, but my husband does. To me, a happy husband and a happy marriage are more important than having my best possible career.

I may not "have it all," but I chose to serve my country (indirectly) and my husband. Just as it would be disgraceful for military members to throw themselves a pity party for not being treated like their civilian counterparts, a spouse's self-pity is unwarranted.

If one makes the decision to marry, and is then blind-sided by the career ramifications, perhaps they should have read some blogs and some research (which is easy to find) about this topic.

That came out much harsher than I intended. Really, though, as spouses, we need to take responsibility for making informed choices.

February 4, 2011 at 8:30 PM  

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