You might have read Life Lessons of a Military Wife blog before, but you probably aren't too familiar with the blogger and military spouse behind the military and life advice. The blog's author, who chooses to be known as Veteran Military Wife and currently lives in Germany, was once in the military herself, so she approaches her blogging with expertise and understanding of the service.
She shares some of her experiences regarding life, deployment and marriage below.
Christiana Nielson: Can you tell me how your blog got started?
Veteran Military Wife: I like to write and have been writing mostly for myself. When I was in the Army, I published a book on basic training. After its success, I realized I just genuinely like to teach and help people. Since I spent a lot of time in Germany and as a military wife, I thought that could be my niche.
CN: When and why did you move to Germany?
VMW: This is our third tour in Germany. We had one in Belgium, and the rest were stateside. My first tour over here was when I was a soldier in 1990! I'm not from anywhere because I am an army brat. My mother was German, and my dad was an American stationed over here.
CN: Tell me a little about yourself.
VMW: I'm married with two teenage sons. I love to read, travel and of course, write.
CN: Is your husband currently deployed? How many times has he been deployed?
VMW: He is not currently deployed. He has been deployed more times than I have fingers and has been regularly deploying before most people knew what that word meant. He has 20+ years in.
CN: Were you surprised by his deployment, or were you expecting it?
VMW: We had some of both, but after so many deployments, you learn what to do.
CN: What were the biggest adjustments you had to make regarding your relationship, family and schedule during deployment?
VMW: You learn to be very independent and make family decisions on your own. I still try to get input from my husband for the big things, if I can get a hold of him. Thankfully we think alike, and what I think is the right call is typically what he would choose. Communication is always key. Before he goes anywhere, we sit down and talk about our wants, needs and vision for our family.
CN: What is the hardest part about deployment?
VMW: The nights and going to bed are the hardest. That was always our time. Plus, sometimes you just get tired and occasionally want to feel sorry for yourself until you think of single moms who are totally on their own. Then the pity party immediately stops for me.
CN: From whom do you get support while he's gone?
VMW: Mostly by phone, email and Facebook from family and friends worldwide. That's the great thing about military life; you have friends all over. I also usually have one good friend where we are stationed, and we lean on each other. I was always active in our Family Readiness Group mostly helping, but I've found that helping others is one of the best ways to help yourself during a deployment. It feels good to help others and also gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. You are making a difference in others' lives.
CN: What have you learned about yourself and your relationship throughout the process of deployment? Do you think your relationship became stronger because of it?
VMW: I think our relationship has grown stronger. We both grow and mature immensely during that time. I always strive, too, to stay busy by volunteering and learning something new.
CN: Was deployment what you thought it would be, or was it different?
VMW: I have the advantage of knowing what it's like at least somewhat on his end because I was a soldier myself. I am very sensitive to his side of the process. Not all spouses have that luxury, but I encourage spouses to ask about their military spouses' jobs and make an effort to show interest and get to know those he works with.
CN: What advice would you give other military spouses in your position?
VMW: Definitely do what I do above! You have to stay busy. Even a full time job, going to school, volunteering or a hobby will do wonders for making the time go by faster and really making you feel good about yourself and feeling strong. It's also good to be independent. It will make your husband proud if you can hold your own.
CN: Is there anything else I should know about you, your work or military life?
VMW: For new military spouses especially, military life can be really overwhelming at first. When a whole sentence can be spoken in acronyms, you might already want to give up. Know also that those senior officers and enlisted spouses all were once in your shoes and knew very little or next to nothing about military life. Being a military spouse is a process. Even the military realizes this, and many bases and posts have classes and events that are resources for newcomers. Get out there and get involved!