We have chosen to stay in the military due to health concerns — the health insurance is amazing (my daughter had surgery for free, including all of her follow-up treatments). I also had a midwife throughout my pregnancy (covered!) and had a friend who used a doula (not covered, but welcomed) for both of hers. Many members of the military that I have met support gays/lesbians joining. A lot of the spouses are also artists, singers, tattoo artists, DIY fanatics, ravers, etc… you just have to find them!
Something else that might surprise you is that many military programs for dependants are in desperate need of artsy/offbeat parents. There are children’s art programs, theater workshops, and dance classes that need people to teach them. For instance, a FRG (Family Readiness Group or other military branch equivalent) would love to host a workshop on how to decorate a rental home.
I have also realized that the military NEEDS offbeat moms (and others) to become involved, because a majority of changes come from within (and to an extent with issues dictated by Congressional law — but that is another topic entirely). There are also career-orientated volunteer opportunities such as a rape-crisis counselor, working at JAG (aka Legal department), and so forth.
There are, of course, issues with the military that I cannot ignore. For the longest time I thought it was disgraceful that a service member had to keep his/her sexual orientation quiet. Thankfully that issue has finally been addressed and this coming fall the military will take one step closer towards equality.
In the end though, whether or not you can live the military life comes down to you as an individual. Can you handle the fact that your spouse will be involved in the military?
I am also against most forms of military aggression in general, but do support the protection of innocent lives. There are positive sides that I try to focus on, like the humanitarian effort from the military (both active and reserve) during disasters. In the end though, whether or not you can live the military life comes down to you as an individual. Can you handle the fact that your spouse will be involved in the military? Is it something you are willing to compromise on to continue your relationship? No one but you can answer those questions or make that decision.
Personally, I found myself judging people way too much in the military. I wouldn’t go to FRG meetings because I just knew no one would care to see me; I didn’t want to hang out with military-related people because I thought their conservative ideas made them so narrow-minded. This is where I went wrong in the beginning — this fear gripped me and in retrospect really hindered my ability to cope with being military.
I have finally started to force myself out more. Some of the people I’ve met do fit into the stereotypes — conservative and liberal. There are also so many people who don’t. Like you’ll find anywhere, just about anyone can provide hours worth of conversations and amazing book recommendations. It also doesn’t matter what color your hair is or how many tattoos you have when your spouse deploys — deployments suck for everyone. In the end it is nice to have a group of people who understand the military aspect of your life to bitch with over coffee or wine.
I wrote this with the goal of telling the military offbeat moms out there that military life can be awesome. Try to embrace the positives that come with a military lifestyle. Avoid what I did in the beginning — rejecting a supposedly-conformist lifestyle out of fear. In the end, it’s just like the civilian world — we’re all trying to find a niche, define ourselves, and embrace life.
Looking for an online place to commune with fellow non-traditional military spouses? Check out Unconventional Military Spouse on Facebook! — Stephanie