February 20, 2019

{Guest Post} 22 Things Military Personnel Wish Civilians Knew

22 Things Military Personnel Wish Civilians Knew


Thank you to Benji Menez, Director of Marketing, Concealment Express www.concealmentexpress.com for writing this guest post. He wrote another informative post on the blog, Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Life.


There are many misconceptions about various aspects of the military that civilians either don’t know or don’t understand. It’s a complicated topic and, unless you have a friend or relative in the military, there is no reason you would have a clear idea of all the ins and outs of military life.


While all civilians appreciate what service members and their families go through to do their jobs, they often have a very superficial grasp of what exactly is involved. Let’s eliminate the confusion and get some facts straight about military service members and their families. Here are 22 things military personnel wish civilians knew:

1.     While we did voluntarily choose military life and are proud to serve our country in whatever capacity we can, that does not mean we completely understood the ramifications of our choice when it was made. The only way to understand it fully is to live it. Everyone involved with the military learns something new every day.
2.     Being away from your spouse or family for a week or two is not the same as being separated for a year or more. Missing someone, whether it is for a month or three years, is very difficult. The longer a person is away, the harder the situation can be.
3.     It is understood that familial relationships can be challenging and being around your in-laws or siblings can be difficult and antagonistic at times. However, military members miss being close to family. Cherish the relationships you have while you have them.
4.     Service members and families often move a lot. This provides opportunities to live in some amazing places many individuals will never get to see. It is hard, though, to make friends and maintain those friendships since we will likely be moving within a short time. Make an effort anyway. We’re pretty good at long-distance communication.
5.     When a service member is deployed, they are gone for the entire placement. They do not get to come home for holidays, special occasions, or the birth of a child. This is one of the hardest things we experience.
6.     Not all military families have money problems just as not all civilians are financially strapped. We would rather have a friend or a recommendation about a reliable sitter than a monetary donation.
7.     Divorce is not as common among military spouses as you may have been led to believe, and infidelity is the exception instead of the norm. While we do get lonely when a loved one is deployed, particularly for an extended period, reunions are great ways to fall in love all over again.
8.     Not all military personnel are called soldiers. Members of the Navy are sailors, Air Force members are airmen, soldiers are in the Army, Coast Guard members are Coasties, and Marines are in the Marine Corps. Using the appropriate terminology is appreciated, as we are proud of the branch we serve. If you are unsure how to refer to us, just ask.
9.   We appreciate your acts of kindness to our family during our deployment. Receiving your calls to ask if you can babysit, go to the store, mow the yard, or deliver a hot meal is appreciated.
10.  Our housing is not free. Service members receive a housing allowance as part of their earnings that can be used for living on a military installation or in a standard neighborhood setting.
11.  We have to pay taxes, just like you do.
12.  When a member of the military marries a civilian, know that we are the same people we were before. Our lives are just a little different. We rely on family and friends just like you do and may need even a little more support.
13.  Returning home from a deployment can be challenging for our family, and there may be many adjustments to make for all family members. This does not mean the service member suffers from PTSD. It simply means that it takes time to get used to being home again and for the family to have the service member back in the home after a long absence.
14.  Children in a military family are the “new kids” a lot. This can be very difficult for them, particularly within the first several months at a new school. Setting up a playdate or introducing your kids to ours can alleviate both our and our children’s fears and provide a better environment for adjusting to a new situation. Most children in military families will attend up to a dozen different schools before they graduate from high school.
15.  Not all military personnel hold the same political views. Our opinions are sometimes even more varied than civilians.
16.  You can count on us in emergencies. We have a great deal of experience in handling the unexpected and are usually quite good at it.
17.  When in the United States, military personnel are not required to have a license for a firearm in concealed carry holsters. We are exempt.
18.  Service members are also permitted to conceal carry in IWB holsters, Kydex holsters or other holsters on U.S. military installations.
19.  We appreciate your encouragement and support. Don’t feel sorry for us because we are a military family. We chose this life and are proud to serve our country.
20.  Just as there are many different types of people in your neighborhood, the same diversity exists in the military. We have our share of individuals who are smart, kind, strict, religious, egotistical, and romantic.
21.  Military spouses must often work just like civilian spouses; however, they often receive less compensation and are underemployed. Our families have extensive experience in many different fields and can be an asset to any company.
22.  It can be challenging to be a military family, but we do what we need to for it to work.

Final Thoughts
Military families live interesting and enjoyable lives and face many of the same issues civilians do. They have the added challenges of deployments, moving often, and long separations, but they also get to know remarkable people and visit unique places around the world.

As part of the military family, we want civilians to realize that we are people much like you. Our friends, family, social interactions, church, and favorite spots to go out for a bite are important parts of our everyday lives. Our military vocation, at the very least, has given us the clarity to appreciate those simple things.

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