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The Times When Being a Reserve Spouse Sucks

mad_womanThe Times When Being a Reserve Spouse Sucks: I write about being a Reservist’s wife a lot.  It’s the number one topic that people request when they want a guest post or to feature me on their website.  Everyone wants to know the ins and outs of reserve life and how it’s different from active duty life.  And usually the differences are fairly obvious and often minimal.  There is, however, one instance where reserve life and active duty life don’t even come close to each other.  The worst time to be a reserve wife is when an emergency happens.

A year ago, I was at work and got severely injured.  I suffered a terrible neck injury and had to go to the hospital.  And wouldn’t you know it, my husband was in the field and unreachable.  That situation provided the basis for one of my most popular posts of all time, “Please Learn From Our SNAFU.” I talked about having an emergency plan and emergency phone numbers.  Seems like pretty basic knowledge, but we don’t even live near where my husband is stationed out of, so it rarely occurs to anyone of us that we might need emergency contact info.

When the Red Cross failed to help and all the other groups said it didn’t count as an emergency to them, which makes me wonder what is… Bedridden woman just home from the hospital, unable to move or walk… I shudder to think where the line has to be for it to count.  But what it boiled down to is that no one would or could help me.  Luckily, I had an awesome military spouse friend who was willing to drive quite a distance to be there by my side.  She was a life saver and Godsend.

This time around is a similar situation.  I had to have surgery; my husband had to be in the field at the same time.  Surgery like this doesn’t count as an emergency, but I also had to have it sooner rather than later.  Sooner just happened to be two days from when I met the surgeon.  What are the odds?

But what makes these situations the hardest isn’t that my husband will be in the field.  I survived a neck injury with him gone, I’ll survive this too.  No, what makes these types of situations hard is that the people you know will drop everything in a second flat to come to your aid live in other states, or even other countries.  I don’t have a community to fall back on.  I don’t have local groups of spouses who can be called upon during such a time.  I have a group of amazing friends who wish more than anything they could come help, but they are simply too far away.  Heck I have an amazing group of acquaintances, spouses I’ve never met in real life and spouse who only know me through my blog who would drop everything to help.  But such is a life as a Reservist’s wife.

Most of the time I can say I don’t mind our life.  I have days I wish we were active duty so I could see other states, cities, and countries.  I have days when I’m so glad we aren’t active duty (hello, PCS season!), but when it really comes down to it, the times I wish we were active duty the most are times when I need someone, but my husband can’t be reached and the only spouses I know live hours, if not whole oceans, away.


A Girl is a 20 something blogger who began blogging in 2008, as a means of coping with a deployment.  She is a Veterinary Technician by trade and loves her work in Emergency and Critical Care. She is married to a USMC reservist with 10 years of service, whom she met shortly after he returned from a deployment. They have been married for four years, have three, very bratty dogs, and are currently trying to muddle through the aftermath of a difficult deployment for both.

You can view her ramblings about reserve life and life in general at A Boy, A Girl and the Marine Corps: A love triangle , FB page or on Twitter @BoyGirlUSMC.


7 thoughts on “The Times When Being a Reserve Spouse Sucks”

  1. I was just turned on to your blog and this post in particular really hits home for me. My husband is in the National Guard currently and he was sent on deployment in 2008 a month before our first child was due to be born. I was told by many people that I could call on the Red Cross when I went I to labor and have my husband sent home but soon found out that the Red Cross and other groups didn't consider giving birth important enough to send my husband home, especially since I had a healthy pregnancy. My husband was able to come home but only just barely made it, no thanks to the Red Cross, all thanks to his commander who was a father of 3 and believed it was very important for my husband to be home with me during the birth of our first child.
    I am currently due to have our 3rd child and my husband is supposed to be at drill when I am due, his unit is almost 200 miles away and we only have one vehicle, and it's not important to anyone that I won't have a vehicle for a several days and I'm due to have a baby and have 2 kids at home with me.
    I grew up as an Air Force brat and I saw the perks, and pitfalls, of living active duty life but it's times like then and now that I would give almost anything for my husband to be active duty.
    Thanks for this blog!!

    1. Trust me, active duty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We deal with all the same issues, but on a regular basis. The spouse groups you see on Army Wives aren’t there at all bases (or at all, that I’ve seen.) When I was bedridden with a debilitating migraine and a newborn, my husband wasn’t even released from a 12 hour shuft to take twenty minute break to drive me to the ER. And that’s when were lucky enough to have him home. We saw two stateside bases in ten years, not the glamorous life people make it out to be, and definitely not the active duty lifestyle that we used to have as military brats.

  2. Unfortunately that’s not just reserves Megan, thats the military in general. I know of way too many moms who delivered alone while their husbands were deployed, honestly I’m impressed he made it home. Active duty wouldn’t change that. My husband was home luckily for both of our kids births but worked swing shifts from midnight until noon or later (up to 14 hrs, no overtime in the military) for the first few years and we never saw him. Now when he’s not deployed he goes TDY pretty much every other month. Every part of the military has it’s struggles, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I’m on the opposite end from you, I’d love if he were reserve and we could have a “normal” life every now and then! Haha

  3. Some of the biggest differences hit home when I see posts from young women inquiring as to the best housing area to live in on a particular base and I here I am worried about whether or not my family will even have a house next month because my husband's unemployment has run out. I see tricare inquiries and I here I am trying to navigate state medicaid/obamacare. I am have no problem giving birth without my husband there as I have done it twice already. It is what it is and I just deal with it the best I can. One of the greatest differences though is in general when asking for help, asking a question, etc-I find I find that I get told no, nothing available, etc UNLESS you are an active duty family. I feel like reservists get the "second-class" citizen treatment more often than not.

  4. It’s not just the reserves that experience that. The show “Army Wives” has put out to the public a very unrealistic view of active duty military life and the community for spouses. Enlisted and officer ranks do not mingle like that as it’s specifically forbidden. If one woman has an emergency, the whole community doesn’t rally around her. We move around so much that when we finally do get a great group of friends, it’s time for orders to another base. After 20 years as a spouse to an active duty military man, I roll my eyes every time someone gushes about how much they love “Army Wives” and that they wish their lives were like that. When they hear how far from the truth of real military life it is, they can’t believe it. When emergencies happen, just like in civilian life the people we rely on first are our family members (wherever they may be). Then it’s good friends, then it’s the military community. We might share a common bond of being military families, but the days of helping out another family in crisis simply because they are part of your base community are over. At least reservists don’t move every couple of years, and spend 20 or more years basically as a nomad who isn’t anywhere long enough to put down roots. Our family has been apart for more holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, births, and deaths than I can count. Half of his 20 years has been spent deployed. Don’t envy the life of active duty embers and their families. Television has sugar coated it so much that the bitter reality is completely hidden.

  5. My husband is a retired Reserve Member. When you live away from the duty location, you should be out making friends, go to church to create a support network and what about their family members?

    I had a major surgery and a couple illnesses during deployments and TDY's, and my family plus church family and frinds were there. We need to build our own support network with the afore mentioned. These support systems are healthy and assist in leading you to be resilient.

    There are so many resources out there to help her. The National Guard has Family Readiness Centers located throughout the 54 states and territories and Active Duty locations have Family Support Centers.
    I was 22 when I became a Military Spouse. The first thing I did was get involved with the Family Readiness Group in order to educate myself. Please get involved and get information instead of complaining.

    22 years later and I stI'll work with the Military Family Programs to include briefing new family members.

  6. When your spouse has a job that keeps/takes them away from home at in-opportune times…..seems like only once would you be caught short……then you would ensure you could be self sufficient no matter what by creating a backup and even one more contingency plan…parents, siblings.

    Come on get off your butt…..where is your where with all, why are you so dependent on a spouse that can be snatched away at a moments him/her by becoming self reliant…turn coworkers into friends…find a social circle to join, befriend your next door neighbor…start a babysitting co-op…go to church…you have way too much time on your hands.

    If you have time to blog and WHINE about being a reservist spouse you need to build resiliency by reflecting on all you have as a result.

    Your husband has offered the greatest sacrifice anyone can make – he has sworn to defend our country from enemies both foreign and domestic and if necessary to lay down his life for people he never knew to keep them safe and free. Someone else is paying for your freedom – you have the best of all possible worlds–he has a part time job that pays retirement and comes with lifelong health care, discount shopping, gyms, pools , all at no expense to you.

    GET A GRIP Girlfriend build some resiliency!

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