How to Be an Army Wife
Being an Army Wife is no easy task. It takes a strong woman to be able to be a mom and a dad, a cook and a repairman, a teacher and a rule setter. They have to be able to take care of the house, kids, bills, cars and family. Multi-tasking is a MUST! They have to be able to understand military jargon and how to act and handle yourself while talking to other people. They need to know how their soldier's pay works and how to change finances if needed. They have to be able to handle long periods of time alone and know how to handle the feelings of sadness, depression and fear. How do I know what it's like? I have been living it for over 8 years. I am a proud Army Wife and I love every minute of it.
Are you a new Army Wife? Do you need a little guidance on how to get through the first rough parts? Here's a little advice on being an Army Wife.
FIRST - Learn the military jargon and political correctness
I've already written a Hub about some military jargon (here) but here are some more relevant ones that an Army Wife must know.
- AAFES and PX - Department Store shopping on post
- ACS - Army Community Service
- CDC/CYS - Child Development Center/Child Youth Services - child care services on post
- CO - Commanding Officer
- Commissary - Grocery Store on post
- DEERS - The part of the government that gives you your benefits. If you are not enrolled in DEERS you will not be seen for anything on post.
- Duty Station - The location of your husband's "work".
- ETS - Expiration Term of Service - The date your husband is to leave the Army.
- LES - Leave and Earnings Statement - Your husband's pay stub. You need to know how to read everything on this.
- MTF - Hospital or clinic on post
- MWR - Morale, welfare and recreation - This place always has great "going-on's" about the area and is worth checking out.
- Orders - Always have a copy of his previous orders and his current orders on hand. Will make life a lot easier.
- Pay Grade and Rank
- POA - Power of Attorney - I never knew there were so many different kinds. I have 5 for my husband for when he deploys. These are so you are able to make decisions for him while he is gone.
- POV - Personally owned vehicle
- Relocation - To move
- Tricare - Military's very own HMO
- Unaccompanied Tour - A Tour overseas that you and your family are not allowed to go with your husband. (Mine did a tour in Germany for 9 months and we weren't allowed to go with)
SECOND - Get Documented
Now that you are "Married to the Army" everything has to be done on paper and filed correctly. All the right steps have to be taken in order to ensure you get the benefits of being married to the Army.
- First and Foremost SUBMIT A MARRIAGE PACKET! - without this packet nothing else can get done. You don't get any extra pay or any shopping or child care privileges until the packet is submitted.
- Obtain an ID card - Yes, you too get one of those special ID's that let you on and off post and shopping and all the "fun" stuff on post. As with everything that is done on post, plan on being there a while. Take a book or something to do no matter where you are headed.
- Obtain a decal for your POV - Most posts make sure you have a decal on your car to let you on post. Even if you live off post and don't plan on being on post too often it is still best to get one.
- Enter into Tricare - UGH, another thing that takes FOREVER but has to be done. Tons and tons of paperwork but well worth it in the end.
- Obtain POA's - Most of the time you don't need a POA unless your husband is deploying but sometimes it's easier to get it all done and over with. There are POA's for everything! Vehicles, Taxes, Finances, Legal and even just a General one. Make sure you have everything you need because getting one while your husband is gone is next to impossible.
THIRD - Know how military pay works
The LES - the wonderful pay stub your husband gets twice a month to show how much he is getting paid. That's all well and good but if you have never seen one before it is quite overwhelming. All the accronyms and numbers can make your head spin. The easiest way to read it is to know what the accronyms are.
- Basic Pay - The base pay your husband gets for his rank. Every year (hopefully) you will see a small raise from the government and when your husband gets promoted this goes up with that as well.
- BAH - Basic allowance for housing - This changes with every duty station you go to. It is what the military pays those on active duty to maintain their living quarters. Most of the time you can pay more then just your rent/mortgage with the BAH. This also changes with pay raises. The higher rank your husband is the more BAH you will receive.
- Duty Pay - There are many different kinds of duty pay: Hardship, Hazardous, Per Deim for TDY, Special, etc. These are different for every soldier depending on if he is deployed, on temporary duty, etc.
- Family Separation Allowance - This one I really like. Granted a measly $250 a month is not near enough to make up for my husband being gone for 30 days in a row but it does help. If he's only gone for 28 days he does not receive FSA.
- Be able to log in to the myPay website. This is where you will see your husband's LES and be able to start and change allotments (payments that come directly out of your paycheck).
FOURTH - Learn the Army protocol
- The first thing every Army wife should learn is the rank structure. This way if you are ever on post at your husbands unit you know how to talk to certain individuals. You don't want to joke around with his commander like you would a private. Even if you are friends with the commander you still show respect to him while he's in uniform and don't joke about things while others are listening. There is no telling who will take a conversation the wrong way and that could be a huge disaster for all involved. Know where your husband falls in rank and life as an Army wife will be a bit easier.
- Know your husbands uniform so you are able to help him look his best. This is a link to my hub How To Wear The Army ACU Uniform.
- A huge help in being an Army Wife is to know how to talk to people. Always behave professionally with other spouses and service members, because you never know who you are really talking to. Be polite when introducing yourself. Do not use your husbands rank as an introduction, you don't want people to try to use you to advance their service members career. Even though you might not like it, what you do does reflect on your husband.
- One of the most awesome parts of being an Army wife is all the "fun" stuff you get to dress up for. From Formal Balls and A Command Sponsored Dinner to Dinner at the Co's house or Spouses Meetings, there is an actual dress code. Formal Balls - wear formal gowns, nothing casual or so low cut that your breasts fall out when you dance. Don't make yourself the subject of gossip. A command sponsored dinner - Fancy cocktail dress or short formal gown. Don't wear stuff you would wear to a club or to church. Change of Command ceremonies - Evening dress for the evening but nothing with sequins. For the daytime change of command wear a floral dress or business suit. Unless the party is casual. (ask the hostess). Dinner at the CO's house - Church clothes are best. No jeans or overly casual clothes. Look responsible. For a spouse meeting - khaki pants and a casual top would suffice. If your mother would not approve, neither would the CO's wife. Remember, you are a reflection of your husband.
Books I own
FIFTH - Get Involved
There are so many different things you can do to be part of your husbands work and also to set a great example for your family. These are also great ways to meet other Army wives in the area.
- Clubs - Book clubs, work out groups, etc.
- Play Groups - There's always a ton of play groups around a post. Get the kids out of the house to play and you can meet other wives in the process.
- FRG - Family Rediness Groups - A great place to meet the spouses of your husband's unit and to help set up meetings, play dates, etc.
- Volunteer Work - There is always something needing to be done on and off post. Volunteer your time and meet new people.
Other Hubs I have written about Army Wife Life
- How to have a positive attitude being an Army Spouse
Keeping a positive attitude being an Army spouse is hard at times. The stress the Army puts on a family is some times so hard to deal with and puts a lot of strain on a marriage. Here are some ideas on how to stay positive through those hard times.
- How To Keep A Military Marriage A Happy Marriage
Being an Army wife is a tough job. There is nothing harder then having the love of your life gone from you more then they are home. Having to be a Mom and a Dad to the kids most of the time. Dealing with all the work/home/school troubles by yourself.
Fellow Hubbers who are Army Wives
- Kantrybe on HubPages
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- marlynpumphrey on HubPages
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