Those who serve have many benefits which are available to both them and their families. While many service members openly state that they will never start a family while in the military, these views have a tendency to change with time. It is important to understand the realities – both good and bad, about having a family while serving.
The first few years are a difficult time for most. Basic training, advanced training in specialized job skills, and arrival at the first unit can require moving multiple times over the course of less than a year. Follow on training can make home feel like a place very far away. As time progresses though the concept of home changes. Experiences with peers who face the same challenges can result in lifelong friendships and bonding. People affiliate themselves with their unit so strongly in the military that when it is time to PCS it can be difficult to say goodbye.
This is the selfish time for service members. Training is about them. They are learning the ins and outs of their job to become more specialized. They are being sent to additional schools to receive patches and tabs which can be worn for the rest of their careers. This individual school training can take up a lot of time and result in many more months away from anything resembling a home.
During this time it is not uncommon to see service members struggle with relationships. Service members who were married when they joined will experience the ups and downs of time away from family. If the spouse is a stay at home spouse they will have even more difficulty adapting to life in the military. Those who begin relationships during this time period should do so honestly, by recognizing the burdens that military life can place on a new relationship and discussing it with the significant other.
It is important to remember that the balance must be maintained between work and family to ensure that no one in the relationship feels ignored. Spouses should endeavor to try new things, seek employment opportunities, and grow personally and professionally along with their service member.
Deciding whether or not to have a child can be a difficult one. Besides being another level of responsibility, the costs associated with children can be extremely high. The average cost of child birth was approximately $18,000 or as high as nearly $29,000 for C-section. Even with insurance, families can expect to pay approximately $3,500 out of pocket. On the flip side, families in the military will pay $0. Childbirth is covered under Tricare and the vast majority will identify the benefits to having a child while still serving.
Besides pre and post-natal health care, the child will have a safe environment to grow up in. A base is basically a gated, patrolled community. Maternity and paternity leave is offered for the service member. Most installations have areas for children to play and be active. Classes are offered for family members to understand how to work together, adapt, and grow as a family. Families can be around others who are going through the same experiences. This increases the sense of camaraderie within the organization.
Military life does have its surprises though. Service members can find themselves suddenly sent on deployments with little notice for long periods of time. These deployments can be combat focused or support focused. It can be challenging to find opportunities to call and regardless of desire or intent, families can be separated from each other during these periods.
If life in the military teaches families one thing, it should be to adapt. Those families which accept the realities and use the time apart to improve something and their lives tend to grow stronger. Whether it is acquiring a new skill, developing opportunities, getting in shape, or making a change, life apart can be an opportunity, not a curse.
At the end of the day, having a family in the military is no better or worse than in the civilian side – just different. Accepting those differences and focusing on the good sides can help to make the best out of whatever surprises your relationship brings.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.