Updated: Sep 20, 2021
How is it already the end of summer? Despite the sweltering heat, back to school pictures are popping up and halloween decor is in Target already. Julia and I have been overrun by the tiny armies we've created in addition to finishing the last details on the 2022 planner, so we asked Michaela, a seasoned Air Force spouse, to be our very first guest blogger! She's talking about her favorite things about being an Air Force Spouse.
Things I have Learned and Loved about being an Air Force Spouse
Being a military spouse of any branch, is certainly not for the faint at heart. Some people may say that we “chose” this lifestyle, but the fact of the matter is, we choose our spouses and the military just happens to be part of the deal. That being said, after nearly 20 years of supporting my Air Force airman, I can certainly say I have loved and learned a lot about this lifestyle.
Below, I have shared some of my greatest lessons learned and loves about being an AF spouse (in no particular order)
First of all, after the first few moves and averaging a move every 1 to 3 years for the past 20 years, this lifestyle brought an abrupt end to my natural hoarding tendencies! Additionally, base housing has not exactly accommodated my storage needs for toting around a lifetime of kid’s school projects, baby blankets and more. Therefore, I have grown accustomed to the minimalist mindset.
My Tribe & The Air Force Family
Second, the Air Force has introduced me to some of the most amazing people I have ever met, military and civilian. Back in the day, I was a shy, unconfident girl who never felt like I “fit in”. However, the AF has blessed me with the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people that have helped me grow as a person. I’ve learned to overcome the stigma of asking for help, while at the same time encouraging others of the power in reaching out.
The people we have met along the way have become more than friends, they are family. My kids call certain friends by the names “Aunt” and “Uncle” (which gets slightly confusing when they try to make their family tree for school projects) because they have been there at their births, held back my hair while I was suffering from morning sickness, helped organize emergency travel when my father passed away, and wiped away my tears during tough deployments. So, if you’re new to this lifestyle, I want to encourage you to embrace your Air Force family!
Air Force traditions have become an important part of our life. From being tapped on the backside at our wedding when walking under the saber arch, learning squadron history, to placing my hand over my heart while honoring the American flag at the end of each day, singing the Air Force song at various functions,
“Off we go into the wild blue yonder…”
Figuring out the rules of a “dining out,” and everything in between, there is so much to be proud of!
Take time to learn your branch’s military traditions, because they are special!
Getting in touch with my inner type B
Like many of you, I typically like to run a tight ship. Plan. Schedule. Execute.
Well, as you may already know, that’s no easy feat in the military. Plans are constantly changing leaving you with hours lost in scouring for houses at one duty location only for orders to change last minute.
For example, 2 years ago we were weeks away from embarking on a Hawaiian adventure of scuba diving and running along the beach, and jumping off cliffs (in my dreams) only to be diverted to a European vacation instead (tough, I know 😂).
That’s right, we ended up spending a year in Rome, Italy with only a month to prepare and a container of household goods already heading for the Hawaiian shore. So, being able to flex and navigate the uncertainties of this life has been something I’ve learned to accept with grace and laughter rather than anger and disappointment.
Stepping out of my comfort zone
I’ve had to do this more times that I can count!
Walking off the plane in a new country without speaking the language
Striking up a conversation with unfamiliar people
Navigating the Air Force personnel building while looking for a copy of my husband’s orders when he was deployed
Standing up in front of a large crowd to deliver a speech while pretending like I didn’t need to throw up from nerves,
and countless others.
This life has helped me realize my potential and abilities beyond my imagination.
Being able to talk in Acronyms like it’s another language
On the other hand, being part of the military is like learning a new language. I can remember the first time I was surrounded by a bunch of my husband’s fellow fighter pilots and trying to make heads or tails of their conversation. I mean, were they even speaking English? No, they were speaking acronyms. Some AF acronyms are:
AFPC -Air Force Personnel Center
AFRC- Airman Family Readiness Center
UPT- Undergraduate Pilot training
AETC- Air Education Training Command
ACC- Air Combat Command
USAFA- United States Air Force Academy
And so many more… you can find a more comprehensive list HERE
Taking advantage of the many FREE resources available
Y’all there are a lot of resources out there that are extremely underutilized! For example the Airman Family and Readiness Center (AFRC) has A LOT of classes, resources, and answers to questions that range from a variety of topics such as financial assistance, employment opportunities, key spouse programs etc. Which brings me to my next point...being a key spouse or key spouse mentor.
Be a key spouse and mentor
At several different duty locations, I have had the privilege of serving as a key spouse and key spouse mentor (when my husband was in command). Essentially a key spouse is a point of contact (POC), someone who is there to answer questions, point you in the right direction if you’re experiencing difficulties with military life, and is a liaison between members of the squadron and leadership. This was one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences I’ve ever been a part of and I would highly recommend you look into it, either as a volunteer or a recipient of the services!
We are so grateful for Michaela for sharing her experiences as a seasoned spouse. If you're interested in being a guest blogger, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org