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In the 13 years my wife and I have been married, my wife has also been in the Army. We have moved a total of eight times. As I post this topic, we are in the process of moving again. Our next stop will be Fort Knox, Kentucky. We are excited about this new location and have heard many good things about Fort Knox. But, we will certainly miss the friends we have made here at Fort Hood. As with any PCS (Permanent Change of Station), we currently have movers packing all our items. Moving is always interesting when dealing with the movers, and this time is no exception. Before I begin talking about our current PCS, however, I need to tell you all about a few previous moves. I would also love to hear your stories...the good, bad, and ugly.
Hey guys, here's a question from fellow male spouse Dave Etter. Anyone have some input?
As a military spouse, it's hard for me to miss all of the talk on the news about the Federal Government looking for things to cut from the budget. The buzz around my very small military circle of friends has included mentions of "budget cuts" since the beginning of this year. I can think of many different ways the military can save money and I was happy to see a story about the Marine Corps considering one of my ideas - "homesteading."
Keywords: Military Spouses Residency Relief MSRRA voting militaryspouses
Introduction to Marine to SAHD Blog, laying out where I have been what experiences I have.
My name is Andrew “Fergie” Ferguson; I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and did four years of active duty in Hawaii. In those four years I deployed twice, once to Iraq and Afghanistan. I was injured during those four years on multiple occasions and still am injured and receiving help from the Veterans Affairs.
When TownePlace Suites reached out and asked if I would be interested in writing a few blog posts about their hotels, I immediately said “yes.” I always enjoy reviewing products and services I've used and appreciate, plus TownePlace offered a few free nights for my efforts. Pssst…don't tell them, but that really wasn't necessary.
How many of you have ever stayed in one of their hotels? My first experience with a TownePlace Suite was at the Colorado Springs South location near Peterson Air Force Base. We were preparing to PCS from Peterson to Little Rock and had run into a slight problem selling our first house. We sold it way too fast! I know, I know…a great problem to have, but it was still a problem. We had no place to stay while Dana waited for her official orders to leave and that was expected to take several weeks. Since it was the start of “PCS season,” rooms were impossible to get on base, plus I was still working my civilian job and relocating to an on-base location would've been very inconvenient. When Dana brought up the idea of an extended stay hotel, I admit to being pretty skeptical. We have a dog. We are clean freaks. We like our own space. We need convenience. Creature comforts such as clean, soft bedding and strong water pressure are a must. Moving from our house to basically an efficiency apartment was not my idea of comfort!
It didn't take long for us to find TownePlace Suites through a simple internet search; their south location looked good so we felt we should give them a try. Driving up to the property helped put me more at ease since the building and landscaping looked clean and well-kept, so well-kept in fact that before checking in I asked Dana if she was sure these guys welcomed pets. Not only did they welcome our dog Brutus, they actually appeared happy to see him! I immediately got a taste of the staff's friendly professionalism once they allowed us to inspect our room before booking. I guess since we were staying there for a few weeks they wanted to make sure we would be happy with the accommodations. To my surprise the room was bigger than I expected, the king-sized bed looked very clean and firm, the carpets were in great shape, the bathroom passed my cleanliness inspection ( including a water pressure test in the shower), and the kitchenette was complete with microwave, sink, and refrigerator. I didn't take photos, but the ones on their website are accurate.
1. To Keep In Touch With Friends and Family
Use groups to keep a conversation with your close friends or family. You can freely share things you many not feel comfortably sharing on just your Facebook page and it's great for planning events or large get together. It's also easier to keep up with everything than having to visit everyone's pages
2. Easier Communication With Your Spouse During Deployments
We all know that communication can be limited during deployment. There are pictures and stories you want to share with your spouse, but don't want everyone else to see, so share them in a group. You can limit it to just the two of you as members, then when he/she gets a chance to check in, they can see everything at once.
3. Network At A New Duty Station
The hardest thing to do at a new duty station is make friends and network. Find a Facebook group for your base. Ask questions about the area, learn about classes for fitness or other things that interest you, and even find babysitters.
4. Keep Up With Your Spouse's Unit
A lot of units and FRG's have Facebook groups or pages. This can easily allow you to see what is going on with the unit and any upcoming events that may be of interest to you. These groups are especially helpful if the unit is gone for training or deployed.
5. Garage Sale Pages
Right? Facebook garage sale pages are great! You can easily buy and sell items and even find people for house cleaning or babysitters. Since it's a group, the admins should only allow people in your area to be included.
6. Entertainment Purposes
Groups can be started for anything, including news, current events, or your favorite TV show. If your spouse hates watching OITNB, talk about the episodes in a group with other fans.
7. Foster And Receive Support From Other Military Spouses
Have questions about benefits, PCSing, or military life in general, there's a group for that. If there isn't you can start one! Everything from
8. Helping To Reach New Goals
Looking to grow your business or go back to school? Find a supportive group of like-minded people to answer any questions and help keep you motivated.
Carpe Diem is the Latin term for seize the day. I've seen on social media, and the news, some folks complaining about the “would've/could've” aspect of their life. Far too often people talk about things they wish they could have or should have done. Being married to the military, I find myself slipping into that trap more and more often because my wife's Navy career can keep me from pursuing certain passions.
Whatever your Winter Holiday tradition, now is the time when many cultures have historically livened up the dark days of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) with celebrations of community, charity, and gift-giving*. Going into debt, however, should not be a part of your tradition.
How much should you spend on Christmas?
I'm big on using percentages when budgeting. Except for the really, really poor or really, really rich, it makes sense to me that if Martha gets paid 50% more than George, then Martha can spend 50% more than George. That generally goes for housing, cars, or Christmas presents. In other words, don't try to “keep up with the Joneses,” especially if you get paid less than the Joneses. That's the idea behind the 60% Budget: keep regular, monthly expenses down to 60% of your gross income, so you can save 10% each towards retirement, long-term savings, and short-term savings; the last 10% is 'fun money' for Starbucks, beer, wine, pizza, McDonald's, toys, etc. Ideally throughout the year you've saved up enough in your short-term savings to pay for Christmas, even after you've paid for oil changes, shoes for the kids, and a trip to the beach over the summer.
Marine veteran and male military spouse, Andrew Ferguson, has stepped outside his comfort zone to make a little money. He is selling Scentsy stuff. Guys, THIS is the type of creativity, determination, and courage it takes to be a successful business person as a miltiary spouse! When we asked how this new venture came about, this is what Andrew said:
You know, I started Macho Spouse because I couldn't find a job in my career field during our last PCS. Most of us military spouses have probably gone through similar depressing job-searches. But after two years of unemployment, here I am, back in the job market and gainfully employed. This time, however, I have a whole new appreciation for what it takes to land that next job. The following is a short list of what I learned during my latest employment drought.
The first thing every military spouse needs when planning his or her career is patience. Patience, patience, patience. We must understand that our career trajectories won't be as quick, or logical as our civilian counterparts. And that's OK. As long as we understand where we want to be at the end of our working life, taking a step backwards now and then isn't a big deal as long as it moves us further forward down the line. Remember, our life situations can change rapidly, so we don't have to find that “perfect” job today since we probably won't be able to keep it anyway. Focus on building your resume so that when your spouse does decide to retire, you will have a great resume and lot's of experience to land that “perfect”job.
It's the holiday season and to me that means spending time with family and friends while reflecting on the year that was. How many had a good year? How many of you feel as if you've accomplished, overcome, loved and laughed as much as possible? There have been a few bad years in my life where I just wanted the damn thing to finish so I could start fresh with a clean slate, it's a mindset, but we all know that reality doesn't work that way. I usually judge my life in a similar way as to how we judge football coaches, “what have you done for me lately.” My year was a good one, a net-positive. So congratulations, you get “happy Chris,” or at least “less grumpy and sarcastic Chris.”
The tremendous amount of progress within the male military spouse community is one reason why 2015 was a good year. Guys, we're finally starting to get some recognition. People, businesses, and other organizations are starting to approach us and ask for our input, insight, and yes, our business. Marketers are finally recognizing that we are a demographic worth pursuing; just check out this holiday spot from Toys R Us. (I just bought 4 gift cards for my nieces from them because of this commercial.)
In 2015, Macho Spouse was approached by the Sonoran Desert Institute's School of Firearms Technology to hold the first ever “Male Military Spouse Appreciation Day” where SDI donated a full-tuition scholarship to their popular Gunsmithing certificate course. (Male military spouses are a large demographic for them.) USAA asked for our participation to help raise awareness on the importance of life insurance during “Life Insurance Awareness Month.” Yeah, I didn't know that month existed before this opportunity either, but USAA sure knows that we exist! And Marriott really knocked us off our feet when they offered several nights worth of hotel stays in return for a few reviews on their TownePlace Suites properties. TownePlace Suites made it very clear that they are interested in helping military families who are on the road, from PCSing to family vacations, TownePlace Suites wants our business! And it's not like this is some shabby hotel chain guys, their rooms are usually very spacious, clean, come with fully equiped kitchens, and hot breakfasts. I was surprised to learn how many were actuallyl located near military installations, which makes them a great temporary housing option, or vacation get-a-way. In full disclosure, I dispersed their generous offering quietly among those guys who have helped keep Macho Spouse up and running over the last few years. We don't make any money here, so when a top-notch organization such as Marriott offers us some swag, I like to spread it out amongst our volunteers first. If you want access to some of this cool stuff, contact me and be prepared to help build our community. But while I'm speaking of TownePlace Suites, you guys should check them out because they're really showing their appreciation and commitment to our military community! That goes for USAA and Sonoran Desert Institute as well, these organizations aren't just talking about supporting male military spouses, they're actually doing it. So let's not forget to return this generosity in 2016.
While I'm patting others on the back, I can't forget the amazing content NextGen Military Spouse, Military.com/SpouseBuzz, and Military Spouse delivered on behalf of male military spouses in 2015. When I started Macho Spouse in late 2011/early 2012, there was nearly nothing…nothing, written for or about us male military spouses. No blogs, no websites, no Facebook pages, no nothing. Now look at us, male spouses are popping up everywhere! (We've probably had absolutely nothing to do with this trend, but I will take full credit.) So despite terrorism, politics, war, and racial unrest, life hasn't been all bad this year. It's been good enough for me to crack a cold one, light a cigar, sit back and reflect on how far we've come and how many goals are still left to accomplish. Don't worry, I won't be consuming and driving while reflecting, Dana and I have already booked our New Year's Eve room at the San Antonio Riverwalk TownePlace Suites. Happy 2015 everyone, have a safe holiday season!
Are you PCS-ing (relocating) any time soon? Need apartment/housing information? Need school information from other military parents? Need to know about the neighboorhood around your new base?
MilitaryTownAdvisor.com is a PCS relocation resource where military families write reviews about neighborhoods, apartment complexes and schools in military towns near U.S bases. Created by a military spouse for military families.
To work or not to work that is the question on all of our minds at one time or another in our military careers.
It seems that the subject of employment comes up whenever money is tight, when the kids are all finally in school, or you PCS to a new duty station. I can't tell you how many times I have thought about getting a job outside of our home just so we could have a little wiggle room in the budget.
I even tried it one year to get some extra holiday cash, and frankly it was a disaster. Nothing got done, the kids were disappointed because I wasn't home when they came back from college, and my husband hated the fact that his life had to change, not to mention my home business began to struggle as well. (Yes, he is spoiled but the fact that he is a genius on the grill makes up for it)
For some military spouses working outside the home works for them, but for many of us the constant changes, multiple moves and unpredictability of our lives make employment very difficult unless you are fortunate to have a career that can move with you.
How do you help new neighbors that have just PCS'd into your area, when you hate the area you live in?
Now I'm not saying I hate my current base, I'm saying I really really don't like the Washington DC, Northern Virgina, Maryland area, also known locally as "The DMV."
Military Base Firearm Laws can be confusing, especially when you end up living at two different military bases within one year like I did. I own several firearms and the first time I encountered military base firearm laws was during the PCS move when the movers asked me if my firearms were registered on the base. My response..."Huh?"
This incident took place when we had to move from the Pentagon to Maxwell AFB for my wife to go to school. I was already a male military spouse for more than 10 years, but I had never thought about or encountered military base firearm laws. An interesting point to note here is that in my entire time as a male military spouse, we have lived on base once. While this may have had something to do with my not encountering the military base firearm laws before this PCS move, it had nothing to do with my ignorance of the laws.
Wait, you're a stay at home dad? How'd you get on base?" said the hairstylist at the exchange when I responded to her question on what I did for the Air Force. This happens a lot when you're a military husband. You'll get salutes from the gate guards, military discounts that only apply to active duty personnel, and maybe if you're really lucky, the start of a chewing out over haircut and shave regulations by a senior enlisted person. Why? Because our wives make up a small part of the force.
Guys, the APA has determined that men and women share cognitive skills, we are fundamentally the same. The whole notion of guys being better at math and women being better at communication is simply a social construct. I firmly believe that statement, but that doesn't change the social construct.
This same social construct demands that we take care of our families and makes us feel like lesser men when our combat boot wearing women make more than us.
Throw that idea away, after all it's just an idea. Who makes what, doesn't have to matter.
Fellow male military spouse and general provocateur, Chris Field, shares his "Top 5 Ways to Enter the Military as a Husband."
5) Read. There are any number of "military spouse" books and websites that explain the mechanics and formal structure of the military and military living. I found that reading as much as I could about the terms, code names and acronyms (i.e., your ability to learn the quasi-language of Militarese) was invaluable in acclimating myself to my new military life. Arm yourself with a basic understanding of such phrases and acronyms as 'PCS' (relocation), 'LES' (her paystub), 'TDY' (a shorter, out-of-town work trip). Just as you would learn a few basic phrases like “Wie geht es Dir?” (How are you?) and “ein Bier, bitte” (A beer, please!) if you were vacationing in Germany, know the basic terminology of your wife's new employer. I promise you, you will never regret reading too many articles and books on military spouse living.
2013 MOAA Military Spouse Symposium: The Scoop From Macho Spouse was originaly written for MOAA Spouse Blog: Making it in the MilLife.
When I was asked to participate during this year's MOAA Spouse Symposium, I couldn't refuse. Sure I am insanely busy with work and my travel budget didn't include a 2900 mile trip to Tacoma, but these were the popular kids calling.
I felt like I was in elementary school all over again and the jocks just asked me to play football at recess, no way I would miss this opportunity. (Side note: The jocks did ask me to play football with them in elementary school where I torched Braden Kelly, the most popular kid in school, for an 80 yard touchdown run that day. Great memory.)
Not only would this event be great exposure for Macho Spouse, but it would help give male military spouses some “street cred” while hanging with a great organization at a visible event.
This means military spouses now have the same privilege as servicemembers to pay income taxes to their home state, and not have to change their driver's license or vehicle and voters registration during each permanent change of station.Keywords: Military Spouse Residency Relief Act MSRRA militaryspouses voting
I no longer have to do all the paperwork and go through the hassle of changing my
MSEF is founded on the belief that we are one community supporting one another regarding rank, branch, status, or educational status. After 11 years of war, our Post 9/11 era spouses deserve a program that compliments the challenges of military life rather than creates more obstacles.
A List of Basic Acronyms and Terms for the Rookies - Part 2
Start learning what in the world your wife and her co-workers are talking about today! This is a basic, beginners list of military acronyms (something the military is very fond of creating).
Let's be honest. You won't make it 6 months without some of this basic communication knowledge.
This is the second part of the basic military acronyms and terms list.
By Craig Gilman
Faculty Member at American Military University
Are you on the move? Summer is a time of transition and change for the military child. For many service members and their families, summer is the time when permanent changes of duty station (PCS) occur. While there is often excitement about moving to a new location, there is also a tremendous amount of stress. This can be especially true for the children of military families who often both suffer the sadness of leaving their old friends, school, jobs and community behind and deal with the anxiety of establishing themselves when arriving at their new home.
Check out the December 2012 Military Service Employment Journal from MSCCN.
Career Advice: PCS Job Search Tips - An employment search can be very daunting, especially in a new area. Here are four tips that really helped me find a position
after our last PCS.
Ask The Experts: Sometimes there are issues with your
job search. You feel like you are spinning your wheels and not really going anywhere – and you wonder why and how you can change it. Below are some questions we have had asked in the last few months that we felt would be helpful to everyone in their job search. We are here to
help should you need any further information or assistance!
'Tis the season to start your job search? Try filling your stockings with cash by landing that dream job going into the New Year. “What do you want for Christmas this year?” If you are answering this age old question with “Dear Santa, I want a new job!” Give yourself an early
gift, just make a visit to MSCCN and CASY for an early present of no-cost employment readiness, on the job training, direct connect, and one-on-one job placement services.
Our recent interview with Everett Lopez revealed some of the difficulties associated with being a man in the predominately female community of military spouses.
Macho Spouse and Chris Pape are mentioned in Alice Swan's article, Tuning in to the Military Spouse Network, in which Alice covers lessons she learned at the 2013 Military.com Spouse Summit (April 11-12, 2013). Here is what Alice wrote:
Build a service out of your unique experience and skill: A great example is Chris Pape, male military spouse and founder of Macho Spouse (http://malemilspouse.com/). Chris was kind enough to talk with me about how he started Macho Spouse. Living in Columbia, SC, while his spouse is working on an ROTC assignment, Chris said he began to feel pretty isolated. He thought he was the only guy spouse out there looking for information and help. About two years ago, Chris began researching male military spouses on the web but found only two articles about guys manning the home fronts. One of the stories was written by Amy Bushatz who you may remember from my Spouse Summit blog: http://www.dcmilitaryfamlife.com/profiles/blogs/you-are-not-alone.
Chris emailed Amy, who helped introduce him to Wayne Perry, founder of Manning the Home front (http://www.dcmilitaryfamlife.com/profiles/blogs/the-outlook-for-mil...) – it was the Military Spouse network in action. A video producer for 15 years, Chris had been working in Arkansas for the Department of Education, creating instructional videos before the PCS to Columbia. “I didn't see any information sites out there for guys to help share lessons learned or how to find jobs,” Chris told me, “so I decided to use the skills I'd developed making the educational videos to create learning videos for male military spouses.” Chris's fledgling video series has grown into a full service site for male military spouses to connect, get information on employment, money tips or gain insights through the Male Spouse 101 tutorial.
Facing another PCS soon with his Air Force spouse to San Antonio, Chris is excited about the opportunities the move presents. “I'm building a business I can take with me,” he explained. And while Macho Spouse is his future, Chris feels it can also lead to other opportunities in the present. Chris is confident that the work he's done creating Macho Spouse will lead to video and film production work in Texas.
Macho Spouse Founder Chris Pape talks with Kristine and Jackie, of Semper Feisty Radio with USMC Life, about civilian male military spouses, the Macho Spouse project and making life work as a male military spouse. You can listen to Kristine and Jackie interview Chris in the second segment of the Semper Feisty radio show, starting at 25:50.
Chris shares how the Macho Spouse project started as a result of PCS that left him unable to find a job in his career field. He also shares insight into the growing number of civilian male military spouses and the similarities and differences between civilian male military spouses and their female counterparts. Also, you can hear Chris explain why he chose the name "Macho Spouse" for the project.
Remember that song, "Take this job and shove it?" Well, that's not probably not what you want to express to your employers when you are about to leave, even if that's what you really feel. Times are tough and there are so many stories about how military spouses are finding it difficult to find work, even with all of the efforts out there for hiring military spouses.
Military.com has a good article on How to Leave Your Job Gracefully as a Military Spouse, aimed at helping you find the right words to leave a job before a PCS without burning any bridges.
Everyone is so focused on spouses getting jobs that they forget an equally important task -- leaving the job you have now.
Finding the right words -- and the tact -- to leave a job before a PCS without burning bridges can be difficult, but with these eight steps, you will be able to leave with good recommendations, not good riddance.