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The Gift of Community

Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have known how to write this. Even five years ago, I would have struggled a bit.  As a newly retired spouse, I find that it is both difficult and easy to look back and reflect on what I think the greatest gift of being a military spouse is. 

As with most things, there are many gifts (read: upsides- and downsides) to this military life. Travel and different experiences are the two of the biggest and can be both an upside and downside. Learning how to navigate life while your spouse is away can be both an upside and downside.


In my own meandering experience, the greatest gift, however, is community. 


There is a built-in community among military spouses. Without fail, you can often find someone who you just met to be your emergency contact when you arrive at a new duty station where you don’t know a single soul.

Have fun getting this un-stuck in your head: “Hey I just met you and this is crazy but here’s my number, be my emergency contact maybe?”

I know it doesn’t fit into the beat of the actual song, but it’s still stuck in your head.  There is also often a profound sense of loneliness (which is different from being alone) that often only this community can truly relate to and in that same moment, sometimes alleviate.

I have also found the opposite to be true sometimes, but that is a story for another time.


They’ve been there too.


Maybe they are still there. Maybe you connect in that location, only for that moment, and then never see them again. It is in that moment, in that connection and community, however brief it may be, that you are shaping yourself.

You may not realize it, but you are.    


I have found that when this connection and community are lacking, that is what can bring the MOST connection.


Hear me out: You’re living in a location where there is not a large military presence. You are relegated to finding this community, these connections, on your own.

Maybe you find it, maybe you don’t.

When you move on to the next new location, either in a military area or not, you now have this experience to draw from. If it’s in a military connected area, the community is built in, and you may not have to work as hard.

If it’s not, you know how to connect (or how not to as sometimes the case may be).It’s truly a marathon, not a sprint. You will take the short (although they sometimes seem never-ending) painful experiences along with the good and learn to use them in the future.


The same rings true for those times when you live in a military populated area, especially overseas.


The connection and community you can make when living overseas among other military spouses who are often feeling the very same things you are (loneliness, exhaustion, being overwhelmed, ALL the things) is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

It helped me realize how important connection is and why it can be so different in different locations. 

Don’t get me wrong- finding community can be tough. It can absolutely be one of the hardest things about being a military spouse.


Despite that, I still think that it is the greatest gift of being a military spouse.


My experiences, the good and the bad, over the past twenty years and many duty stations, have helped shape who I am and have taught me how to find community, especially now that my husband is retired and we live in a not so military populated area.

I attribute this to my willingness to get involved, to put myself out there, knowing that it may not work (because sometimes it doesn’t), and recognizing that connections do not just happen.

The gift of being able to find connection and community is worth it.    



Meet Navy Spouse (Ret.), Erin Lorenz

Erin Lorenz was born and raised in Minnesota and lived there until her husband went into the Navy in 2003. Twenty years and many duty stations later, he has retired, and they now reside in their beloved home state near family.

They have 4 sons, the oldest attending Purdue University, and the other three acclimating to their new school in the Twin Cities area. Erin has a BA in Social Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, and Human Development) from Washington State University and has devoted many hours to volunteering with her church and various nonprofits over the past twenty years.

Erin loves singing, watching her Minnesota Vikings play with all their hearts, spending time with her family, and finally being back home in Minnesota.




*To read more posts  from our finalists, click HERE.





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    With over 159 years of military spouse experience and 68 PCSes under their belts, the M:M Command team is the ultimate Battle Buddy to help navigate Milspouse life. Powered by volunteer spirit and optimism the M:M Command Team could run a small country, but instead are dedicated entirely to the global empowerment of military spouses to help them conquer adversity, foster confidence, and thrive in this military life.


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