It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this site. There’s a lot of reasons for that – after my husband ETS’d from Active Duty, initially he was IRR, so there really wasn’t anything to talk about that was military related. He didn’t have any commitments, life was civilian-normal. Then he decided that he missed the military lifestyle, so he joined up with a reserve unit. As a spouse, the lifestyle of being an Active Duty Army Wife, to being the wife of a Reservist, is quite different in most respects. With those differences leaving me little to write about, and working full-time leaving me little time to write, I put this blog on a back burner, that I ended up leaving for longer than I had intended.
And now I am back. For a few reasons. As of August 2014 I left formal full-time employment to pursue self-employment. Also, our status will be changing, and I thought it would be a perfect time to take to writing for this blog again, in hopes that it may be useful to other spouses and Army Wives and Husbands.
So, in a nutshell, what’s happened in the last two and a half years. 1. My husband ETS’d from the Army. 2. Initially coming out of active duty to IRR, my husband joined the Active Reserves to maintain some military in his life since he missed the Army. 3. I have gone from working full-time for 2 years to working for myself in the past 8 months.
How has Reserves life been? It’s certainly not Active Duty, for either of us. While my husband is able to maintain a full-time job separate from the military, he is committed to them at least one weekend a month, as well as for a few weeks of training, each year. On the one hand, this aspect of being involved with the military allows for more flexibility than being Active Duty had. However on the other, soldiers live further from their duty station than they do for active duty, and while it may be more flexible for most of the year, multiple schedules now have to be coordinated as you are expected to get approval from your full-time or other employer for trainings with the military. There is more to juggle. This balance of life is better for some than others.
But I won’t go into the details of my husband’s life so much, this is an Army Wife’s blog, after all. So let me tell you about how I’ve found this transition to be.
Some spouses have had better experiences than others with Active Duty FRG’s than others. Overall, my experiences have been good. While he was Active, my husband had been in three units. The first had a wonderful FRG and a good level of involvement. The FRG had also coordinated an event when the soldiers all returned from deployment and joined up with the rear-detachment soldiers for soldiers, spouses, and families to meet each other. I also remember being a part of a soldier’s breakfast at the Company one morning (I made waffles), as well as going to the FRG leader’s house for a pot-luck dinner and game evening. Both were fun to attend and had a lot of involvement. The second unit my husband was put in didn’t really have an FRG to speak of – at least I never heard from anyone. And the third and final unit that my husband was put in, and the one that he deployed with, had an active FRG, but struggled just a little bit due to the unit having more single soldiers than married. I tried to attend as many meetings as I could, and even volunteered at an FRG Easter Event that was put on, to photograph children and families with the Easter Bunny. I also attended a “Coffee” at the FRG leader’s house with a few other wives. This was a fun, relaxing morning spent drinking coffee and tea, just talking about whatever happened to come up. I had never been an official volunteer, or sanctioned member…I was an active participant, I guess you could say.
Coming from these active FRG experiences to an FRG in the Reserves that was just getting started was quite different from what I expected. Partly, because I didn’t expect or realize that an FRG would be just getting going; I thought I’d be walking right into what I had left. The FRG leader has done well with the resources she has to get an FRG together, but it certainly isnt’ without its challenges. I’m not sure of the ratio, so I can’t really speak to how many soldiers are married compared to those who are not. And I have not met all of the spouses, either, so I do not know how many actually want to or do not want to be involved with the FRG – either as a volunteer or sanctioned member, or as someone who is just in the loop. I know, for me personally, it’s been difficult to really be involved as much as I would like because we live a considerable distance from Post/Base, and we’ve been down to one car for quite some time now since I sold my Liberty last year. And I haven’t met another spouse who is reasonably close to me/my area who would be willing to carpool. Needless to say, getting to FRG meetings, which are held during Drill Weekends, has been impossible.
I’ll admit, some days I miss how things were when we were Active Duty. At least we were immersed in the military lifestyle, so a lot of things were easier and more accessible – everything was so close and catered to military expectations. I think mainly because of our distance from the unit/”home base”, as well as from most everyone else, because everyone is scattered across at least four states, if not more, it’s difficult to really feel a connection to everyone when you’re not working with them everyday, or can’t just meet up for dinner, coffee, shopping, or anything like we used to do with other military folk and couples. We have made great friends with a few couples and soldiers, however find that the distance keeps us from doing more together as often as we all would like.
I’d love to hear from other military spouses – how have your experiences been with FRG’s, or your spouses’ changing status with the military? Post your thoughts in the comments section. Please remember to keep it clean and to not be hateful. Thanks!