Military Mentors

So you’ve married a military man. Congratulations! If you are like me, this world was completely brand new. We had no family affiliations to the military at all before I started dating my husband. And while we were dating it was amusing to hear the constant acronyms. And my goodness there are so many. I believe at one point, my husband spoke in two complete sentences with maybe three are four words that weren’t acronyms. Then we got married. And suddenly I had to actually understand what an FRG was, what PSD was, and why my husband was stressed about the TRE. (Which, until I saw written out, for about four months thought was spelled TREE because he never pronounced it as the individual letters, but rather as one word.)

Compass is an incredible resource for all things military. And I didn’t know it existed until about three years into our marriage and really wish I had gone when we first got married, as it would have made things much easier. Instead, I found myself a mentor and I highly recommend it to all new wives. It wasn’t on purpose. I didn’t go looking for one. And I don’t know if she really knows just how much she saved me. I call her my first Navy Wife friend even though I had met several when my husband and I were just dating, but she was my first “I am married, you are married” friend. And she taught me everything.

Out to dinners when the guys would use acronyms or terms I didn’t understand, I could lean across to her and she would quietly explain what it meant. Many of our coffee sessions included her giving me a mini lesson on what an LES was and the differences between Boomers and Fast Attacks. She was the most informed woman I had ever met in my life.

Not only did she teach me about the Navy side, she also taught me about the Navy Wife side. I’m not going to lie – when I first met her, she intimidated the hell out of me. She looked like what I thought of as the perfect Navy wife. Blonde hair, beautiful, always looking put together as though she just fell out of a J Crew ad, the perfect accessories, and always color coordinated. Then there was me, in my Target polos I thought were so grown up and my jeans shorts. And then one day, early on in our friendship, she gave me a ride to a spouse event and I got to see the crazy behind the scenes. And I remember thinking, ‘oh look, she is human.’ It was my first time really realizing that as a military spouse, what you see isn’t always a complete picture.

We have been friends for years now and even though we occasionally go through periods of losing touch I know I can always suddenly call her out of the blue and say, “this department head tour sucks, how did you get through it?” And she will be there with excellent advice. Just by living, she has shown me how to maneuver this crazy world and the best way to be a good Navy Wife. Which isn’t to say that you must be a particular way to be a good Navy Wife – you can be an excellent Navy Wife and not join every spouse group or attend every FRG meeting, and I can’t stand anyone who says there is only way to support your husband because it is a load of bull. But she represented the kind of Navy Wife I wanted to be and I have tried to emulate her on many occasions.

So those just starting out in this crazy world, find someone who has been in even just a few more years than you have. Someone who you click with and who seems to have the same priorities as you. Learn from her. Ask her questions, no matter how foolish they may seem to you. Because, trust me, we all ask the same questions when we first get here. Don’t just hang out with fellow younger wives, get to know as many wives as possible. They have excellent advice and know how to move within this world. I once had a girlfriend ask me a few questions and was suddenly amazed at how much I knew without realizing it. I was so happy to be able to pass on the info I had learned and the little tricks and ‘musts.’ It is important that we learn from those who have come before us if we want to have a stable corner of the sky.

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