This article originally appeared on Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life.
I spent almost 9 years as an active duty army wife, and now it has been over six years since I became a National Guard spouse. I feel like on some level I have seen both sides. On the other hand, because we live right outside Fort Campbell, a very military town, my life looks a little different from other National Guard and Reserve spouse life.
However, I know that there are some pretty specific struggles and challenges that affect these military spouses. Ones in which active duty spouses might not understand. Ones in which civilian friends might not understand.
Here are some of the struggles and challenges of military spouses married to a member of the National Guard or the Reserves:
Not being seen as a military spouse
Being a National Guard or Reserve spouse can make you feel like less than in a sea of other spouses. Our spouses have civilian jobs. Ones that don’t usually require a military uniform. This can be a difficult place to be in as not everything we read about military life applies to us.
For many, the idea of shopping at the Commissary isn’t even something they think much about, the closest one could be a day’s drive away. There is no on-post childcare to take advantage of, and the FRG might be really hard to find if they even have one. It can be difficult to even find a place within the military spouse online community when the National Guard or Reserves life feels so different from what is being portrayed.
Being so far from the military community
Being so far from the military community can be difficult too, especially during a deployment. For many, they might be the only military spouse they know in real life. They are the only ones missing their spouse, in a town full of people who just don’t quite understand what that is like.
The advice is to reach out and try to see if there is anyone else in their area with a spouse who serves. And if they can’t find anyone, look online. But even there, most of the groups and pages focus on active duty life. It can be difficult to truly find your people when your numbers are smaller than others.
The truth is, there are plenty of National Guard and Reserves spouses that are looking for a community just like you are. They are feeling lonely and also feel that they will never find anyone else who gets it.
Questioning if programs and discounts apply to them too
When you hear about a military spouse program or even a military discount, you always have to question if it applies to you too. Not all programs and discounts are for those in the National Guard or Reserves. Some are just for active duty. And knowing this makes us have to question every single one before we apply or ask for the discount.
Drill weekend is lonely, and its okay to say so
Drill weekends are lonely, and usually, that is when Murphy decides to come to the home. Without fail, something always breaks when they are gone. Drill weekends are usually when we have the most activities going on that we could use our spouse home for. Drill weekends get lonely sometimes too.
And while yes, there are benefits to having a weekend alone now and then, it’s okay for a National Guard or Reserves spouse to miss their husband or wife when they are gone. Yes, we are all aware that others have had to be away from their spouses for longer.
The truth is, whether you are married to someone who is active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves, they are going to have to deploy sometimes. And sometimes those deployments are long. They will also go away for trainings and schools, for weeks and sometimes months at a time.
Active duty doesn’t have the claim on missing their spouses. All military spouses experience that at one time or another, and it is best to support one another through it instead of telling another spouse their husband or wife isn’t gone long enough to miss them.
Not quite fitting in at home either
While it can be difficult to fit in with the military community, it can also be difficult to fit in with the civilian one. When your spouse is in the National Guard or the Reserves, they are still serving. They are still apart of that 1%. And sometimes it can be difficult to fit in with people who don’t know anything about that life.
This feeling of not quite fitting in at home can be difficult and frustrating. The best thing to do is to look at your civilian friends and find something in common. Maybe one of them has a spouse that goes away on business trips all the time, maybe another has a spouse with another type of dangerous job. There is common ground there and there are ways to connect, even through your differences.
As a military community, we are stronger together. Whether we are married to someone on active duty, someone in the National Guard or Reserves, or someone that is retired. We can all learn from one another, and help each other through.
Are you married to someone in the National Guard or the Reserves? How long have they been serving?