By Jenna Moede
When I first married my husband I remember driving on base and feeling like a fish out of water. I’d come on base many times before with family members, but this time felt different.
I never expected to feel like I really and truly didn’t belong, but I ended up feeling just like that. My nerves won out the first couple of times that I wanted to get on base without my husband, and I didn’t know what resources the base had to offer.
My husband enlisted in the Air Force so names might change according to branch of service. Not every base that I have stayed on has had each of these things, but most do so I have chosen to include them just in case.
Quickly after moving to Wyoming I learned about the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The key spouse for my husband’s flight actually directed me there because she told me they offered a tour of base.
I ended up heading over there because they required my husband to do a budget before he moved off base, and I found that they had a wealth of information they wanted to share with families.
They offered classes for expecting families that helped them with important information before their baby arrived, they offered financial assistance whether someone needed help with a budget or guidance for a financial class, they offered help writing resumes, they had a large list of local places that hired military spouses, and they had someone will to answer any off the wall questions.
I immediately felt comfortable, and I definitely have used the different options there more than once. It also put me at ease knowing I had people to help me build professional contacts.
I highly recommend looking into type of resource no matter what base or branch of service your spouse serves in.
Second, while these have not applied to me directly, I have many friends that utilize the youth center on base and the child development center. Since we moved here, I have discovered that the youth center offers sports for older kids along with many other fun activities for them to enjoy.
Next, outdoor recreation really has great options for families too, but I overlooked outdoor recreation for a long time when we first got here.
At first I didn’t realize that they had equipment that I could rent like skis, camping equipment and even bouncy houses. Once I found out that I could rent equipment easily as well as buy tickets to many attractions both local and out of town, I started using them more and more.
Not only can you rent equipment from outdoor recreation, but ours even organizes trips for couples and families. If you have never stopped by, take the opportunity to see a calendar of events and rental list. Outdoor recreation can open a lot of doors especially when you first move to a new area.
Many times I have taken ideas from the trips planned by outdoor recreation if I am unable to attend something that interests me.
The overall amenities on base can really help new families as well as seasoned families. Some of the resources that our base offers include the Base Exchange and Commissary, a dog park, gyms, outdoor fitness areas, a pool, tennis courts, disc golfing, bowling, a library and a movie theater.
At first I felt nervous about using the facilities on base and I felt intimidated, but I eventually realized that a lot of spouses felt the same way I did. I started to push myself to go to some of the places and my husband and I would go to some of them too.
It turns out that I had a great time, I met some awesome people, and I had some doors open. I can’t say enough about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and utilizing the options and recreational activities your base has to offer.
Finally, Airman’s Attic, as our base calls it, is the last resource I wanted to mention. Airman’s Attic is like a second hand store, but at Airman’s Attic, no one has to pay for the items. Items never cost money for the families using that resource.
Additionally, this resource helps families looking to give away perfectly good items. Oftentimes families find themselves with too many household items, clothes or toys and they want to donate them to a good cause. This type of organization really comes in handy because other military families benefit.
Even if you don’t need items from Airman’s Attic or a similar organization, consider donating to it next time you clean out your closet, and if this type of organization could benefit your family, don’t hesitate to look into whether or not your base or your branch has something similar.
Lastly and maybe most importantly, research. I say this all of the time, but if you research what your base has to offer you will realize what a wealth of information, activities, and resources are readily available.
Whether you have newly married into this life or you have lived it for a while, never feel uncomfortable to use what the military wants to share with you and take advantage of the opportunities presented.