When you marry a military dude at 21, its hard not to be a newlywed idiot. I personally was so clueless you could have called me a newlywed-iot. Which would have hurt my feelings. And I probably would have cried. But I would have qualified as a newlywed-iot just the same.
I don’t want any other military bride to struggle like that. I want the new generation of brides and grooms to have a list of things to do the first six months of their military life so they can feel confident. Competent. Able to handle whatever was coming down the pike.
The problem is that I don’t remember what those things ought to be. Evidently, neither does anyone else. All those books about military life think you need to know what rank everyone is and how to change the oil in your car. That’s just dumb.
So what do newlyweds need to get to be successful? Think about this project as a kind of a scavenger hunt for brides and grooms. If you were a newlywed, or you are a newlywed now, what kinds of things should be on this list. I put together a few items—what would you add or subtract?
1.Get a page protector around a copy of your marriage license and a copy your service member’s current orders. For the next few weeks you are going to trot that thing around. Make sure it is hard to lose.
2.Get on DEERS. I don’t know what DEERS stands for, but I know your name has gotta be on it to exist in military life.
3. Get an ID card. Try not to look all honeymoony-swoony in your picture. You gotta live with that version of you for five years.
4.Get the mailing address for your service member’s command. It isn’t enough to know he or she is in the Navy. A mailing addy will tell you exactly what ship/unit/battalion/division your service member is in. Update this 30 or 40 times during the next 20 years.
5. Get the name of the helper assigned to families in your unit. In the Navy, this person will be the Ombudsman. In the Marine Corps you have a FRO (Family Readiness Officer. In the Army, you are looking for the FRSA (Family Readiness Support Advisor). Often these people are listed on the command’s website or Facebook page.
6. Get directions to emergency medical care in your area. This is not because military marriage is so dangerous, but because you are probably going to move soon and what’s a move without a trip to the emergency room?
7. Get access to local doctor appointment. This is different from emergency care and often happens at a different place. Get it before you wake up with a 104 degree fever.
8. Get military housing. Or at least get the directions on how to qualify for military housing. Maybe you will live there. Maybe you won’t. But find out about it so you can make an informed decision.
9. Get clear on money. How much do you make? How much does your service member make? How are you going to pay bills?
10. Get a job. This is harder than it sounds sometimes. So let me know how you did it as a newlywed.