5 Things I’ve Learned Since Joining the Army as a Spouse

The insignia for an Army Staff Sergeant

By Sarah Curran – a proud, new military spouse

It’s no wonder that less than one percent of the American population serves in our Armed Forces.  It’s not an easy task for them and it can be even harder for their family.

My husband is currently stationed in Korea.  And while it’s difficult as newly weds to be so far apart, I find more difficulty in getting used to the lifestyle and rules that come with becoming a military spouse.

We have only been married a couple months, dating for a couple years.  But I still am completely clueless when it comes to the basics of military life and procedure.

So in a effort to not look like a deer in the headlights when someone asks me “What is your husband’s APO?” or “What rank is he?” I have assembled a need to know list for myself to integrate into a military lifestyle.

Learning Ranks

My Husband is in the Army so I am taking ranks from that branch of the armed forces.  The Army has three different ranks for Officers, Warrant Officers and Enlisted.

The ranks go from O1-Specialist for Officers, W-1 through W-5 for Warrant Officers and E-1 through E-9 for Enlisted Soldiers.  Army provides an online link to its ranks and insignia.

Navigating Tri-Care

When you join the Army or marry in you get your healthcare benefits through Tri-Care.   The type of care offered in the military healthcare system are defined by Congress.

Tri-care services are split into 3 regions across the country and each region has a contracted insurance provider.  For the west its TriWest in the North it’s run by health Net and in the South health care goes through Humana.

There are four plans offered through Tri-Care; Prime, Extra and Standard and Life.  Which plan is for you depends on what you need and what you can pay for.  My husband and I have standard and so far it’s worked out fine.

Any active duty member does not pay a co-pay but dependents and family do. I recommend going into your local office to get all the details.  Just as a side note, you must be enrolled in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) to obtain Tri-Care benefits.

Photo courtesy of army.mil.

“Don’t Scuff the Shoes!”

Uniforms are extremely important in the military.  When it comes to the daily camo uniform no special care is needed just throw it in the wash.

Dress Uniforms are a whole different story! I have yet to wash a dress uniform because I am way too afraid to mess it up.  We usually send it to be dry cleaned.

And don’t forget the shoes!  I don’t know how many times my husband has had to talk to me about me putting his shoes in the trunk.  God forbid they get a scuff mark. AKA if its part of a dress uniform treat it like gold.  It may be annoying to measure the distance between the breast pocket and a rank pin but it’s necessary.

The uniforms signify a solders pride and commitment. That’s the amazing thing about the armed forces, it teaches not only simple things like cleanliness, but also how to take pride in how you look and in what you are representing.  It is less about the actual outfit as it is about the meaning of it. The rank insignia show how far the soldier has come while the state of the uniform shows how much it means to them to be where they are.

Popular Acronyms to Know

  • APO: Army Post Office
  • PCS: Permanent Change of Station
  • TDY: Temporary Duty
  • DEROS: Date Estimated Return from Overseas
  • SOP: Standard Operating Procedures
  • NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer
  • ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival
  • RPG: Rocket Propelled Grenade
  • MOS: Military Occupational Specialty
  • CO: Commanding Officer
  • PFC: Private First Class
  • IED: Improvised Explosives Device
  • BAS: Basic Allowance for Subsistence
  • BN: Battalion
  • RFI: Ready For Issue

Photo courtesy of the website: Help a Military Wife.com

PDA – Public Display of Affection

One of the first times I ventured on a military base with my husband, I was up for a rude awakening.  My husband, dressed in his uniform, refused to go anywhere near me!  He wouldn’t hold my hand or hug me, let alone a kiss.

Keep in mind that if your man is in uniform, don’t try any funny business.  Along with the Pride that comes with the appearance of uniforms, service men and women also hold themselves to a higher standard when donning their military garb.  No PDA in uniforms!

It is important that you respect these boundaries and don’t take it personally.

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2 Responses

  1. Military live has aspects and problems not common and not present on civil live, but this may be a challenge that married couples will affront togheter. Love is the secret formula to surmont any obstacle, any problems that deployements give, any aspects, positive or negative, of military couples. Stress is high during deployement for members of couple, but this is indicatif of love between them. Wishsess of all weel possible to you. claudio alpaca

  2. A couple more things to learn:
    You didn’t join the Army, you married a soldier.
    Please don’t ever say it’s harder to be a spouse. That’s insensitive and insulting to servicemembers. Try serving before you decide how hard it is.

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