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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Ask VMW: The Plight of a Military Girlfriend

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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ask VMW: The Plight of a Military Girlfriend

I recently received the question below:

I am not a military wife but rather a military girlfriend. My boyfriend has just been accepted into the army officer program and leaves for training in less than a week. We are not engaged, but do live together and I plan on going with him to where he is assigned on base in Germany. I guess I am wondering how possible this move will be without us being married. Marriage is not out of the question for us but we don't want to rush it or do it for the wrong reasons. Do military girlfriends have rights and benefits just as spouses do? Is marriage necessary in moving to another country? Do you have any advice for me or any ideas of other resources that I could look at in making these adjustments?

My lengthy answer to her was:

I would definitely relook at your plans! Girlfriends and fiancees have zero rights as far as the Army is concerned...you are a non-person I am afraid. Your boyfriend can put you on his life insurance and possibly as a point of contact should something happen to him, but that is about it. Without an ID card, you won't be able to do anything on post or base...even more so overseas. In fact, your boyfriend would be non-command sponsored at his German duty station. That means he will not be paid extra for having a spouse and you won't be allowed to use any of the facilities on post, to include the PX and the commissary and everything else. Only ID card holders can shop and use the services on post. You won't be able to go on post except when escorted by him.

Now, people over here do have relatives and friends visit from the States, and the limit I think right now in being able to stay in Germany is three months on a US passport, according to German law. So you could come visit him, but just wouldn't be able to stay indefinitely unless you get some kind of work visa from the German government, and I think in order to get that, a company has to hire you first from overseas. There are plenty of contractors and government positions over here...you just have to have some kind of skills to get hired from overseas. Many companies actually hire the family members of soldiers to help keep hiring costs down for new employees. That would be one avenue I would check out if I really, really wanted to move over but would allow you some privileges and benefits without totally relying on your boyfriend.

The one bright light, because your boyfriend is an officer, he would be allowed to live off post. He will not be authorized family housing on post, being single, and luckily, he won't have to live in the barracks. Most commanders will let all E-6s or E-7s and above find a place off post, thru the housing office, which they will get a certain amount of rent money for in addition to their base pay (this is rank dependent).

Sorry this advice wasn't rosier, but I think it's better to know what to expect than to run around with rose colored glasses on. I certainly commend you for supporting your boyfriend and wanting to be with him. In our last Family Readiness Group in the States, we did have some girlfriends get very involved and help with our events and programs and were a part of our little group. But for the most part, it was hard to overcome "just being a girlfriend", and as of this date, the military does not consider a girlfriend a part of the family.

Let me recommend two message boards for you to visit. There are a lot of girlfriends and fiancees who visit here who may be able to offer their own insight from experience.

Married to the Army

Army Wives (and Girlfriends and Fiancees too)

Are you an Army girlfriend? Would you like to share your experiences here? Please do share...both good and bad...

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10 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

I'm not an Army girlfriend, but I do want to say that the housing situation would be a definite problem, no matter. It will depend highly upon what post he is assigned. If there are available quarters, or BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters - meaning 2 room apartment type), especially as a Jr. officer, he may be required to live on post. My husband wasn't allowed off post housing, even though we had to wait almost 3 months. Each Garrison Commander can set the standards (the one who was there when my hubby arrived set the policy to read that if housing would be available within 90 days, no off-post housing would be authorized). With the consolidation of military posts overseas, things are constantly changing.

I think it would be extremely difficult to go LIVE overseas. I totally understand not wanting to rush into marriage, but if the relationship is strong, it will survive a separation.

October 29, 2008 at 4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I am in Germany too. There are some single soldiers in our unit with German girlfriends, and I can see them waiting for their boyfriends at the front gate while they are waiting to be let in. They can't buy anything at AAFES.

I know some with contractor American girlfriends and one or two come to our FRG meetings, because at least they can come on post but for the most part we don't include them in many of our activities. I know that sounds bad but when it's hard to keep track of the girlfriends because they constantly change you don't want to get attached to anyone.

I would stay put where I was too...in the military being separated is a good test if you would still be together after a separation when you are married. Being in the Army there are alot of separations so go ahead and test it out ahead of time to find out if you are meant for each other.

October 29, 2008 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger DirtyDog said...

To answer your direct question, anyone can move to Germany, but do not expect to be treated as a spouse of a service menber, you will simply be an American citizen with NO military privaliges.
And NO, girl friends DO NOT have the rights and benifits of a spouce. It is said that if Uncle Sam wants a soldier to have a wife, he will issue them one. By that statement, is why even spouses are not highly regarded in the Military. R L Brown,Maj Ret, U.S.M.C Semper Fi.

November 3, 2008 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Ladies, one thing I did read about on a message board was a suggestion to get linked into the au pair route. A lot of Europeans have live in babysitter/childcare help. You live with a family, take care of their children, get enough for room and board and a bit extra, and you get some time off. This would give you a job that will allow you to stay in country...you'll get to see your BF, but you'll be independent of him and not have to rely on him...if things don't work out, you can always pack up your bags and go back home. Plus, if you go w/a reputable agency, you have them to fall back on when there are potential problems.

See below, Au Pair Work in Germany
http://www.europa-pages.com/au_pair/german.html

November 25, 2008 at 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is over a year later, but I've been searching for information on this very subject. My boyfriend of 3 years has just gotten into the Navy and the process will be starting in a few months. The issue is...we've been long distance at schools thousands of miles apart this entire time, so we don't need any more "tests" of separation. I've gone through my entire undergraduate life with a boyfriend in CO. We planned to move in together after school but now I want to move to where ever he is stationed. Marriage isn't high on our list (we consider ourselves pretty unconventional) so my question is: is marriage the only way in?

January 26, 2009 at 1:45 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I am a little unsure what you mean by "the only way in". Obviously, if you are committed to making your relationship work, you can do just about anything. Just realize that it will cost you more time and money, that's all. You won't be allowed to shop on post or even go on post without your boyfriend, and you'll be somewhat of an outsider when it comes on on post happenings....but that doesn't mean you can't have a military boyfriend!

And I do caution you about following a boyfriend overseas unless you are independent and can make it without his support. Assignments frequently change, people get deployed or sent on temporary duty...and then where would you be...all alone.

January 27, 2009 at 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I were in the same situation you are. I have objections to many traditions, especially those that historically supress women. In civillian life we probably wouldn't have gotten legally married. Problem is, you lose out on alot not being married. We make almost a third of our income in BAH, get more money to pcs and the army considers me a person and makes resonable accomidations for me being important to my huband.

So in short we got married and I changed my name (i vowed i never would) to make our lives easier. In the end, we define our commitment and relationship... not anyone or any instinution. So do yourself a favor and make life easier. That signature on papper makes a world of differance.

April 19, 2009 at 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While i agree with the prior comments about being a military girlfriend i think that there are some exceptions, and even if you are not treated exactly like a wife it is no reason to rush into marriage.
For example, my boyfriend and I live together and share custody of his 16 yr old nephew , I also took over guardianship of his 10 yr old daughter while he is deployed. Even though I am not his wife and therefore i can not recieve benifits Iam still included in his units activities,i get the emails, phone calls , newsletters ect.. from family readiness. Some of the past comments gave the impression that military wives shun the "non wives". I personally have not had this experience, maybe it is because we have children , but i would like to think it is just the change in times. Many couples have children and share repsonsiblities without being married.
Marriage is an important life changing event, it should not be rushed into just because of military benifits. It taints your whole marriage if that is the basis for your choice, and just leads to heart ache.

January 2, 2010 at 3:25 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I think it's fantastic that you are being included in unit activities! In units where longer deployments are the norm, you will typically see parents of single soldiers brought into the fold as well.

Unfortunately though, I have been in many units where girlfriends did not have the same "status" as wives because many of the guys would go thru girlfriends like they went thru underwear....with you having kids, I think it makes your commitment to your man more serious. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but that's the perception.

And thanks for doing what you do!

January 2, 2010 at 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey im a army fiance my fiance is deploying in may and where going to vist his family in california for 9 days in april befor he does deploy so we have time together but what i have learned from being with a soldier is that you have to be married to move with them when they get stationed somewhere else or atleast engaged cause my fiance where getting married after his deployment and he wants to reenlist after that so he wants to get stationed in germany to or texas one of the two i choose the warm or hot places lol but ill follow him to the end i support his dreams im just proud he choose me to be apart of them=]

February 12, 2011 at 7:40 AM  

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