Everyone knows making friends when you are moving every few years is one of the most difficult things about military life. It can feel overwhelming to meet people, especially at a new place.
Then the situation arises when the person you become close with suddenly moves away. It is something we unfortunately experience time and time again. To make things even more interesting, sometimes we are sent to duty stations for only a short amount of time, courtesy of things like trainings, schools, TDYs, the list goes on.
When you are in this situation you might think think "What is the point of even making friends here? How do you make friends in that short amount of time anyway?"
My husband and I are wrapping up at our current duty station. We have been here for only six months and are already moving again.
At first, it was not easy to make friends. I am a bit more introverted and honestly, was a bit lazy at first. But now, we have a fantastic group of friends that we are sad to be moving away from. I found that there are some important things you should do while making friends at a short duty assignment. I can honestly say that the people made all the difference in our short time here.
Here are 3 ways to make friends in a short duty assignment:
1. Get involved. Just because you are somewhere for a short time, does not mean you can't get involved in the community. You can still work, volunteer or simply enjoy this short time wherever you are.
I met many other spouses through volunteering and attending a church group. Odds are, there is something for you to get involved in that you passionate about.
A shorter timeline can make you feel disconnected from the community which can lead to a very lonely duty assignment. Finding an organization, club or job you love can make all the difference in any duty assignment, no matter how long you're there.
2. All in this together. Many times, people who have shorter assignments at certain duty stations are not alone.
The Army, for example, has certain posts under United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). These posts have multiple types of schools and training ranging anywhere from Basic Combat Training to Captain's Career Course. Many times, families are only there for the duration of the school term then will move on to wherever they are headed next.
Chances are there are many spouses in your same situation. They are looking for friends and are probably having a lot of the same worries and fears of being lonely as you are. Most of the friends I made had spouses in school and were able to relate to all the things I was going through.
3. Explore. Just because you are in an area for a short amount of time, doesn't mean you can't take in the sights.
One of the great things about the military is that we get to live all over the world. We move to places that are nothing like the towns we were raised in. We could be living in the mountains one moment and an island the next.
Take advantage of exploring these new places with new friends. If you are outdoorsy, go on a hike. If you love a city, explore the museums or a new restaurant. Being a tourist in your new area allows you to learn about the people, the culture and the hidden gems you might have missed. A huge bonus is in sharing this time with someone else who is new to the area as well.
There are so many fantastic people in this military community. I encourage you to try to immerse yourself in this short duty assignment as much as you can. I am so glad I met a fantastic group of people here; it is what made this assignment truly special.