Invest in yourself and become the fullest version of yourself possible. That is the investment every military spouse should make. If that seems selfish, it’s not; it’s the best gift you can give your spouse, your family, the military and the country.
Being a military spouse can be challenging, exciting, intoxicating, and draining. It is undeniably demanding. As you give to your family and your country in the happy chaos of military life, save enough time and energy to invest in yourself.
The life of a military spouse can be all-consuming and it is easy to put your goals on the back burner. Frequent job changes and moves to new locations can keep you focused on immediate logistics, while the long-term future stays only a distant concern. Military life is like being a leaf floating on top of a fast moving river; the view is unbeatable, but when your time on the river is over, you need to be ready.
My best investment in myself was by dumb luck - good fortune disguised as a dismal change of location. After being in the nation’s capital almost five years, we were sent to a Midwest town. Of all the places we could have gone, it was the one place I asked we not go. So much for requests.
Friends that were headed to exotic places commiserated. The one positive element I found was the town’s university offered a degree program I wanted, so I decided to spend my four years in tornado alley earning my M.Ed. Through pregnancies, ice storms, dust storms, tornadoes, and stretches as a single parent, I plodded through my courses, one class a semester, finally finishing the month we again PCS’d.
Common to those in the military, the intervening years found me loving the town where my daughter was born and friendships grew deep. I sobbed when I left, but I left with an investment in myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but my degree would open up countless doors for me later in life.
Today, spouses don’t need to wait until they’re in a location with access to a university to make an educational investment. Online options abound for all levels of education: certificates and associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctorates.
Military life offers other opportunities to invest in yourself. Along with the challenges and adaptations, military spouses have incomparable opportunities to meet people and connect with others from all over the world. Formal events, hails and farewells, and serving others in countless capacities are all rich and fulfilling. Traveling to places others only read about can be life changing.
You want to support your spouse and your family and enjoy the camaraderie only those in the military can fathom – and you should. But remember to invest in yourself. When the future arrives, and it will, you’ll be ready.
Kim Bessolo, a former military spouse of 20 years, has taught first year students at American Military University since 2004. She holds a Master’s in Education, a graduate certificate in online teaching, and participates in university initiatives related to her field whenever possible.