Helping others gives me a sense of purpose

“I think I had a glamorous view of military life: we’ll travel the world and meet fascinating people. I had painted this picture of a military romance in my mind, but we hadn’t really talked about the aspects of day-to-day life; I was pretty naive. I remember the first time I saw someone salute my husband and realized ‘Oh wow. Other soldiers actually salute him!’ Filled me with a sense of pride yet left me a bit overwhelmed with the realization of how little I knew about it.

“We’d been married 7 months when we first moved on post. At first it was exciting – stopping for retreat, watching the ceremonies. I was starry-eyed. I’d given up my job as a child welfare worker when we moved. So I went from this independent woman with a career, who made her own money to having to know only his social security number – whether or not I had one was irrelevant. I felt like I lost my identity. I still remember enrolling my kids in school. My husband is a wonderful step-father, but I had to ask ‘Where does my name go on the form?’ I’m their mother. The school, like every other organization in this new world, seemed only interested in our sponsor’s information. Eventually, I did realize it isn’t a job or title that gives me an identity, but my belief system, character qualities, gifts and talents – what an empowering discovery!

“My advice to new military spouses? Learn everything you can, find a mentor, and give back. My mentor gave me support and guidance. I found a wealth of information through Army Wife Network, a fantastic resource, one I believe in so much that I now own it! Volunteering is a passion of mine. Helping others gives me a sense of purpose. It’s hard to feel down when you’re lifting someone else up!”

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