The Ups and Downs of Living a Military Life
Theresa Bobier, 31, is a stay-at-home-mother currently living in Manassas, Va., with her parents while her husband, Scott, is deployed in Afghanistan as a captain with an Army aviation brigade.
"Like any other job, being in the military has its ups and downs," admits Theresa, adding that it does offer something that is highly valued in these tough economic times: stability. Instead of feeling sorry for Theresa because her husband is overseas for a year or more at a time, take her advice and learn from it.
"It hasn't always been easy to be a military family, but it is what you make of it. The military tries to make it easier on families too. It is a nice life, because there is a lot of security."
How it all began
Theresa and Scott met in college. He attended George Mason University and was part of the ROTC; she attended Longwood University in Southern Virginia. When Scott graduated from college in 2002, he became a commissioned officer and a husband. Since they were married, Theresa got to travel with Scott overseas in 2003 for his first post-college assignment in Germany. "It [the military] has been a great experience for us. We got to spend five years in Germany seeing more of the world," Theresa says.
The benefits of living overseas
Living abroad taught Theresa to be more resourceful and independent. While Scott traveled extensively for work, Theresa learned to put herself out there and make friends. "You really have to break out of your shell," she notes.
The only stumbling block that Theresa encountered was finding work in Germany as a full-time teacher. Instead, she was forced to sub when she could, eventually finding no work at all and finally putting her teaching career aside to grow her own family and help support Scott and his career. "It [military life] has put my career on hold for now, but I am not resentful."
The value of life on a base
While Theresa's first impression of life as a military wife was one of assumptions and apprehension, she says that her views have changed. "I knew nothing about the military when I got married, and I thought that bases were weird and too enclosed. I didn't understand the lingo either, like what the PX [like Walmart] or commissary [grocery store] were."
Over time, Theresa has learned to value Army bases and what military life has to offer. She found that in addition to providing easy access to stores, Army bases offer a support system and social network for military personnel, their spouses and families. "It is just easier to stick with friends in the military because you know you are all in the same boat," says Theresa. Other wives with husbands who are deployed can relate to how lonely and isolating it can be, and can offer friendship and advice for dealing with those emotions.
The bad with the good
"Deployments are my least favorite part about being a military family; that goes without saying. Moves can get bad if you let them, but at the same time they also provide new experiences."
Theresa admits that it's hard to have a child with problems (their son has eye problems) when one parent is so far away and cannot be called at any time, but she also believes that military life has taught her and Scott to communicate more effectively as a couple and to really savor their time together when Scott is stateside for assignments and home for rest and relaxation between deployments.
"It really has been everything I expected, but in a good way."
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Gwen Parkes is a seasoned writer and editor and a subject matter expert (SME) on healthcare and healthcare reform. She spends her days freelancing for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and various publishing houses. Parkes exercises everyday to cleanse her mind and find her inspiration- running and hot yoga are her current devices of choice- and she is an amateur chef and self-proclaimed foodie; she believes that good supermarkets are happy places, a good Pinot Noir goes with everything and coffee should be served hot, with cream and sugar and as frequently as necessary.