Military families today are facing new challenges in their journey — watching war unfold live on the news, witnessing the horrors of accidents and death notices on social media, feeling alone in a connected world, and other technological trials.
The good news is that with challenges, come opportunities. Today’s virtual lifestyle gives family members an easier path to becoming an entrepreneur, devices to talk and see their loved ones with video or text chatting, or connect on a moment’s notice. Sometimes just discovering the information to overcome those barriers or receiving that one key piece of advice is life changing.
Three military spouses set out to help their fellow military spouses avoid common pitfalls while connecting with opportunities today: J.D. Collins, Lauren Tamm and Jo, who writes under the pen name Jo, My Gosh. Together they wrote The Modern Military Spouse.
The project began to simply fill a need. “The three of us have been fielding a lot of questions from young military spouses and significant others who felt connected to our stories and experiences,” says Jo of its organic start. She added that the book was built to be different -– more along the lines of a conversation than a manual or handbook.
I reached out to the authors to get their take on issues facing our military family members today.
Who exactly is the modern military spouse and how is s/he different from the spouses of other generations?
“I don’t think that as people we’re all that different from prior generations, although our circumstances are. When you look at just how quickly technology has changed military life, deployments, and entrepreneurship, I think it’s safe to say that military spouses now have more resources, opportunities, and connectivity at their fingertips than ever before,” explains Jo.
Collins agrees, “The struggles are there for each generation of military spouses. For the modern military spouse, the social landscape is different. It’s much more of a virtual experience.”
Sometimes being connected to millions of choices can be a burden in itself. I wanted to know what the authors saw the biggest problems facing our families.
What are the Top 3 issues are facing modern military spouses today?
It may come as no surprise to learn that author Tamm sees them as deployment, technology, and career barriers. She explains, “We are in an era where deployment is always present. Gone are the days when our country is at war versus not at war. I think military spouses are working hard to discover creative ways to manage a lifestyle that will always involve separation and reintegration.”
Technology has also impacted our lives, particularly those who are waiting in the wings while their spouse is deployed. “We are all at risk and need to take important steps to protect ourselves. War is no longer only on the front lines… our bank accounts, online businesses, and personal information is all on the internet. It’s a new age of risk we didn’t know before.”
Military spouse employment has been highlighted as being problematic for military spouses. “It’s one thing to have a job, it’s another to have a career,” says Collins. Her words resonate deeply with me – it’s why I ended up becoming an entrepreneur.
“Military spouses have careers of their own more than ever. Overcoming the challenges that military life brings to a career–frequent moves, finding new work, changing careers–those are all things today’s modern military spouse is facing,” Tamm said.
So what’s to be done about helping a spouse find meaningful work when frequent moves and license portability becomes an issue, Jo asks? It’s something’s faced our community for decades, but now that we live in a technology-rich environment, more resources and opportunities are available, you just have to know where to look,” she explains.
How has the internet helped/hurt military spouses?
Social media connects people but people’s attitude can affect the community. “I think that many of us are tired of the constant stream of outrage and criticism that comes from social media”, says Jo. “It’s not an issue that’s unique to the military community, but it can often seem overwhelming, especially for young spouses or ones who may be more isolated than others,” but she is quick to add that the benefits of connecting digitally far outweigh the bad.
“The internet is a lifeline,” says Collins. I agree wholeheartedly — there’s nothing else that connected the entire world more than this one thing.
People have found more information, peers, and groups to belong to than ever before. “That digital community can be found in a number of places with bloggers… I love that we have so many voices telling the different stories of what it means to live the military lifestyle. Especially for spouses who may not have a strong support system, it’s so important to be able to read about other people’s experiences, if only to say, “I’m not weird– I’ve felt that way too” or to celebrate the uniqueness of this community,” Jo explains.
Knowing where to turn to for advice eases barriers and making things more efficient – something that comes in handy in the military culture, especially when moving. Tamm says, “I can lean upon them as a guide before the actual PCS move. This allows us to tackle military life smarter, not harder. That aspect of technology is a blessing.”
Do you feel like there a subculture of military spouses?
Social media has brought together a home for various communities within the military community. “We’re all looking for support sometimes and the subcultures help up connect just a little bit more,” says Collins.
Jo agrees and explains the subculture community connection. “I love that the community is so diverse and that there are ways for military spouses to feel engaged and validated — from organizations like AMPA to Esposas Militares Hispanas to more informal social media groups like Mil-Blogging Buddies and Vegan Military Spouses. And I love that groups like In Gear Career, InDependent, and the Milspo Project also offer in-person chapters and meetings offline for people who want face-to-face interaction.”
The authors of The Modern Military Spouse are hoping to help other military spouses find their niche – their special “military spouse piece of the puzzle” as Tamm says, to find unity without “feeling lost and overwhelmed by the masses.”
The Modern Military Spouse is available in electronic (e-book) and paperback. Learn more about the authors below:
- Lauren Tamm is a mom of two littles and military wife living overseas in Okinawa, Japan. She spends her days drinking infinite cups of coffee while chasing an energetic toddler around the house and soothing a baby.
- Jo, My Gosh is the author of the popular blog Jo, My Gosh, freelance writer and teacher. When she’s not working from home, she’s writing, reading, trying new recipes, watching sports or cross stitching.
- J.D. Collins is young, married and mama to a beautiful baby son. She is the author of the successful blog Semi-Delicate Balance.
About the Author: Kristine Schellhaas’s success as an entrepreneur and nationally renowned advocate for military families is the result of her unwavering passion, fearless commitment, and unique authenticity.
She founded USMC Life in 2009 as a way to help inspire, connect and educate Marine Corps families and has dedicated thousands of volunteer hours helping military families through five wartime deployments. Her new memoir, 15 Years of War, is scheduled for release June 1, 2016.
Born and raised in Boise, Idaho – Kristine currently resides at Camp Pendleton in Southern California with her two children and dog and currently serves on the advisory board for two military non-profits. In her spare time, Kristine enjoys reading, as well as celebrating life and red wine with friends. To book Kristine for speaking or discover more about the author, please visit KristineSpeaks.com
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