Three years ago my husband switched from active duty Army to the Army National Guard. While still a soldier, life is a little different in this branch of the military.
You know you’re a National Guard spouse when. . .
. . .you love the color pink
Okay, you don’t have to love the color pink. . . but your ID will now be that color. Your ID will look pretty much the same as an active duty spouse’s ID, except for the color. Most places that accept a military discount will still accept your ID.
. . . national emergencies take on a new meaning
Whenever you hear about a tornado, earthquake, or hurricane, you wonder how bad it will be and what that will mean for your spouse. If you are a planner like I am, you want to know when they will be home and when they will be gone. And at the end of the day, you are thankful that there are people like your spouse who will be going to help those in need.
. . . you have to pay for TRICARE
Every month you pay a fee for you and your family to have TRICARE. This is different from active duty, but the good news is the amount you pay is usually a lot less than you would pay on other insurance. This benefit is a good deal and life is easier when you are not so stressed out about health care.
. . . you sometimes forget about Army life
Sometimes my husband goes six weeks between drills. During these longer stretches, he feels a lot more civilian than military. But then, all I have to do is wait until the next drill weekend and watch him walk off in his uniform to be reminded of his role.
. . . you still get to see your soldier in uniform
There is something about seeing them in uniform that makes us feel so much pride. Pride for our country, for their job, and for how much work they do. After working all week in their civilian job, they pack up to head out for the weekend once a month. They are the citizen soldier–a part of both worlds–and getting done what needs to get done.
. . . AT or the two weeks a year everything falls apart
Every summer my husband has annual training (AT). This is the “two weeks a year” part of the National Guard commitment. This training isn’t always two weeks; this year he was gone for three . . . next year, who knows? But when he leaves for AT, one thing I know is true is that something breaks. Maybe it is the AC. Maybe it is the dishwasher. But something always breaks. I know I am not the only one. As my husband left for AT, I heard from other spouses that the AT curse had hit their homes, too.
. . . you still go through deployments
Some people think the National Guard doesn’t deploy. This simply isn’t true. They deploy overseas as active duty soldiers do. Sometimes they go for a longer time and sometimes for a shorter amount. When a National Guard member deploys, their spouse goes through all the same emotions that an active duty spouse would.
. . . you miss out on the military community
Some people in the National Guard live in military towns. This gives them–and their spouses–access to the military community but this isn’t the norm. For most of the people in the Guard, they are far away from a duty station and miles away from other military families, let alone a military community. This can be quite isolating, especially during a deployment.
By Julie Provost
Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.