I had a military spouse “ah ha moment” about 10 years into our marriage. It came at the end of a debate with my husband about why the government seems to make odd choices related to his job back then. I’d been putting my 2 cents into an issue and Horatio, frustrated with me for trying to insert myself into his area of expertise, finally said, “I have my job and you have yours. Let’s leave it at that.”
I was outraged at first. After all, my opinion matters. I came to realize, unfortunately, that it actually doesn’t matter when it comes to the ins and outs of his job in the Navy. So, ever the optimist (with a touch of snark), I turned the negative experience into a positive one and declared that, yes, he has his job and I have mine. Actually, I have several. Most of my “jobs” are unpaid, but some are paid and they all matter.
Of course, as a military spouse, in my opinion, my most important job is managing our family life. A strong home life is the root of everything we do. My spouse travels A LOT, is sometimes deployed, and always works long hours, so it is left to me to ensure that our kids are happy and healthy day to day. A career outside the home is important to me as well, so before we married, in 1996, I changed my career path to a portable one. I had a degree in International Affairs and worked in Public Relations, but knew in the long run, what I wanted to do was teach. Knowing the military life is anything but static; I decided that there was no time like the present to move on to that career.
When Horatio and I decided to get married, I realized my best course of action was to get certified to teach before we started moving around every couple of years. Schools need teachers and schools are everywhere. In one way or another, I knew, with that certification, I could get a fulfilling job no matter where the Navy sent us. Of course, back then, I’d never envisioned being sent to East Asia, but here we are.
We are now 10 more years into our marriage and have moved 13 times. I have utilized my portable career in three countries so far and am currently substitute teaching at the American School. It’s a job that gives me the scheduling freedom to devote my efforts to both home and work, as needed. I love it. For me, it’s the perfect career.
I’m lucky that I knew what I wanted to do before marrying into the military and was able to plan ahead. If I hadn’t, though, I know there are programs for degrees and certifications that are really great and often have specific programs that cater to military families. Martinsburg College is one such institution. They have several choices of certificate training, as well as Associates Degree programs to help get military spouses on their way to creating a portable career they can take with them wherever the military sends them, and provide real time support with a facebook group. Really, that’s what it’s about. We want careers, like our military member spouses, not just a job to bring in a bit of income. We all know that the military career will eventually come to an end and the more prepared we spouses are, the better. Martinsburg College can help military spouses find their way to a career that is fulfilling, challenging AND brings in funds.