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10 Reasons to be a Grateful Military Spouse

November makes me get a bit more serious about gratitude. Why don’t I instill a daily ritual, reminding myself of the gifts I have every day? Did you know that gratitude can have lasting benefits for your health? Maybe I should find a way to be a grateful military spouse all year long.

Maybe that will be my New Year’s resolution! For now, I’m happy to focus on giving thanks in anticipation of Turkey Day.

When I think about gratitude, it’s a feeling and an attitude. One marked by recognizing that the things in life are not a given. The military rules our lives, and there are times where I feel like I have to dig deep to get through the situation.

Overall, I have deep gratitude for what this military life offers. Some of these things might seem like a given, but when we reevaluate in light of gratitude, we can see them as gifts.

Here’s what makes me grateful to be a military spouse:

1. Health care.

In an age of skyrocketing health care costs, I’m thankful for access to exceptional health insurance. I have friends who pay for health insurance through jobs or other programs but still use healthcare on an emergency-needed basis.

My son broke his wrist on the fourth day of school. I picked him up and we sped off to the emergency room. I could focus on attending to his care without the gut-wrenching question of “Will I be able to afford this?”

I'm a grateful military spouse when I don't have to worry about the cost of an emergency room visit when my son breaks his arm.

I can’t imagine being in the shoes of a parent with a suffering child, worried about how they will pay the bill or be forced to choose between medical costs and groceries.

2. Steady pay.

With the occasional exception of waiting on Congress to pass a budget, we’re so lucky to receive regular paychecks for our service members’ work. Knowing that we’ll receive a steady amount, twice a month, helps me budget and prepare.

Many in our extended family own their own businesses and get paid when they work. If the weather is bad or when winter comes, or if you get injured, that paycheck is less predictable.

Our partners work hard for that paycheck and we’re lucky to have a steady income.

3. Travel opportunities.

This is my personal favorite. I get giddy just thinking about the possibilities. We’ve saved money by using military travel benefits. From nerve-wracking Space A flights, to lodging, to MWR deals, traveling military-style makes for fun, exciting adventures, and we always have a good story to share.

I'm a grateful military spouse when I can travel in fun ways with Space A.

Traveling Space A in a KC-135. We played with cars on the floor of the plane and catch with a football. Bonus: wearing ear protection makes for a very peaceful flight!

We love visiting Hawaii, which we do on a serious budget. A week in Hawaii can sometimes cost less than a trip to Florida (if we’re able to catch a Space A flight). We’re by no means luxury travelers, which helps keep our costs low, but we also take advantage of opportunities.

Learn more about Space A travel by visiting these sites. If you live near a Space A terminal, just stop in and ask questions! We’ve always had great assistance at the passenger terminals.

4. Feeling part of something bigger.

If you’ve lived in the military world for quite some time, you might forget that your perspective on the world is probably different than the average person’s. We can point out tiny countries on a map. We pay attention to what’s happening in the world. We have a better understanding of diplomacy.

On a smaller scale, the decisions we make daily aren’t always as big of a deal as they appear. By being aware of the bigger picture, we can let some of the small things in life go. I don’t need to rush to mitigate the issue. This perspective frees me.

5. Moving every few years.

Quite honestly, this is my dream category. Because Phil is active duty for the Wisconsin National Guard, we don’t have to move all over the world.

We’ve done geo-baching because we didn’t want to move to where he was stationed for two and a half years (and we didn’t think he’d be there for longer than 18 months…but you all know how that goes!). But other friends of mine have shared the benefit of PCSing.

If you are in the throes of packing, then you’re exempt from this category. Moving is so hard. We moved a year ago, and I don’t feel the need to pack a box anytime soon.

Maybe you’re at a station where you just don’t click. That’s okay. The next one will likely be a better fit.

Maybe your heart is like mine, always longing for another adventure. Moving grants you the opportunity to see the world in a way that most others never have the chance.

If this is hard for you, I challenge you to try to open your mind just a tiny bit. Find adventure in this potentially-challenging area.

6. Independence

Letting people into your life to help can be rewarding and beneficial.

However, I’ve always been independent and having a partner who is often gone gives me the chance to exercise my independent streak. It bolsters my confidence (sometimes after hours, or days, or months of being stuck in whatever challenge I’m facing this time!).

Your headlight burned out? Good. Pull up a YouTube video and follow along to learn how to change it!

Toilet clogged? Good. You now have something to hold over your partner next time you need to get out of something!

Children sad because a parent is gone again? Good. Shake up your routine and sneak off to a movie or try a new place like an indoor trampoline park or an art studio.

Giant snowstorm? Good. Okay, I’m lying. I hate snow. Stay inside and drink the biggest cup of coffee and pray that you get a warm front to melt it before you have to drive anywhere.

Get my drift? Turn potentially crummy situations into ones where you are empowered. I’m proud and grateful to be in this club.

7. A Fuller life.

I don’t know about you, but we pack in life. Not every day is filled with fun and meaning. But we don’t wait to incorporate the things we hope to do. We just do it.

We have some old neighbors that we’ve been wanting to invite for dinner. So, I texted them and set a date.

Last month we tossed together a low-key Halloween party in two days.

When we see a chance to lend a hand to someone in need, we jump in.

These are things that BML (Before Military Life), I put off. My introverted nature tends to lean toward the “maybe next week…” persuasion. Now, we do it.

Why wait? Next week Phil might be gone and we might not get to it for months. Having lived both ways, this is a much more fulfilling way to live.

8. Friends all over the world.

I love that when we’re traveling, we can call up friends and meet for dinner or sightseeing. I love being more like a local when we travel, checking out the local coffee shops or hidden beaches.

We show our friends these same things when they come to town. Our life is richer and fuller with friends across the nation and world.

9. Community

From generational divides, to race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, and more. When your family is directly connected to the military, you have solid common ground with so many others.

We can relate to each other in a deeper way. I’ve made long-lasting friends in an instant because of this single point of common ground.

10. My partner…and every other service member.

Yes, I’m pulling the patriotism card. Seriously.

We live in the greatest nation on the earth. Sure, other places have a lot of good stuff going for them, but even more don’t.

We get to see, first hand, the sacrifices and cost that the men and women in our armed forces make to ensure we protect our freedoms. Because of their dedication, we get to live.



  • Jolene McNutt

    Jolene has been married to her extroverted husband, Phil, for 14 years. He is marching towards the retirement finish line after 22 years of Active Duty military service with the Army. Jolene works for to help military families get connected with no cost online tutoring services (Kindergarten through Bachelor level!) funded by the Department of Defense. Jolene and Phil have a son in middle school who loves LEGO, playing his trombone and board games. They also have a weimaraner, Max, who is the most demanding personality in the household. He keeps the whole family laughing. Jolene enjoys traveling, reading, and making allergy-friendly recipes for Finn. Despite her introverted nature, Jolene loves hosting friends and family. You can find her volunteering or hiking with Max during her spare time. Find her on Instagram @jolenemichelle1. Sarah Robichaud Director of Administration

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie

    One thing to add RE: Space-A travel. If you are a military spouse and your service member is stationed OCONUS or deployed 30+ days, you can fly Space-A by yourself (or with the kiddos)! You just need a travel memo from your service member’s command.


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