Marrying a member of the military means signing up for a lifestyle that’s in a world of its own, from a dictionary’s worth of new acronyms to specific protocol and expectations that just don’t exist in civilian life. The unique challenges of military life aren’t for the faint of heart—but there are also ways to clear the hurdles by tapping into the support systems in place for military families. Here are a few challenges you may face in military life and ways to tackle them.
CHALLENGE: Frequent, disruptive moves
The saying “happy wife, happy life” can feel true for members of the military—studies show that spouse satisfaction strongly influences active duty recruitment and retention. However, it can feel nearly impossible to settle into life when you receive PCS orders every two or three years. Being employed outside the home can increase satisfaction in military families, according to a 2005 Rand Corporation study, but frequent moves make it difficult to get ahead in a career or to advance education for better professional opportunities.
SOLUTION: Online opportunities for school and work
Today’s online environment makes it possible to engage in certain jobs or college programs from anywhere with an internet connection. There’s no need to stress about transferring and starting over again when your profession and/or education can move with you. Many online education programs offer licenses, certifications, or associates degrees for in-demand jobs that are either online or needed anywhere you may be assigned to live.
CHALLENGE: Uncertain schedule
Locking in a set schedule is nearly impossible for military families. Deployments take your spouse from home for months at a time—and even when home, he or she may get assignments that mean long hours and schedules that change at a moment’s notice. Add children into the mix—especially young ones, and especially when you live hundreds of miles away from family who could help—and trying to commit to any sort of set class schedule is nearly impossible.
SOLUTION: Flexible programs you can complete on your own schedule
Flexibility is a must for military life. Thankfully there are a number of online learning programs that allow you to set your own schedule. Instead of being required to finish within a semester or cram for an exam on any set date, you can work through a course at your own pace. This also lets you spend time on curriculum that is more challenging for you while cruising through what comes easily. Best of all, you can sit in class whenever and wherever works for you—dawn or dusk, at home or holed up in a library, all from the convenience of a computer.
CHALLENGE: Extra stress and strain
Military life requires strength, sacrifice, and perseverance beyond what a typical college student or employee—not to mention spouse—would face. Tasks and situations that would normally be easy take on additional hurdles and challenges when you’re managing life on the home front and worrying about the well-being of your other half who is stationed half a world away.
SOLUTION: Tap into extra support available for military spouses
Military life can be challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. Each branch of the military has support systems in place for families of its members. Because studies show that military family satisfaction increases when the spouse is employed, the Department of Defense has grants available to pay tuition for military spouses through the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program. As long as you and the program you’re interested in meet the eligibility requirements, the money is there to complete a program that focuses on quickly preparing you with skills for a specific career, helping you along the way to a better career and happier military life.
Career Step is an online school offering professional career education in healthcare, administrative services, and technology. As one of top 5 enrolling schools participating in the MyCAA program, Career Step understands the unique demands of military life. Career Step has trained more than 15,000 military service members and spouses through its online certificate programs and knows how important MyCAA funds can be in opening doors of opportunity. Call a Career Step Academic Advisor at 1-800-411-7073 or visit CareerStep.com/mycaa-funds to take your first step toward a new career.