Who needs the spooks and haunted stories of Halloween when you have to deal with the red tape that is the military? Sometimes the things military spouses deal with on a daily basis are enough to scare the bejeezus out of civilian folk.
- Are we going to be paid? Sure, we’re extremely proud to defend our nation’s honor. But when our nation’s politicians can’t decide on a budget, well, that pride turns to anger and then worry as we try to figure out how to pay the next month worth of bills, on well, nothing. If we can balance children, full-time jobs, earning a degree, volunteering and caring for the home surely they can sit in their office for a week and devise a plan that will let us continue to be paid for our service without giving us all ulcers as we wait and plead and hope that they will come through. Most civilians can’t imagine and would not continue to work for no pay or the threat of no pay.
- We were paid, too much! Oh the horror of opening your bank account and realizing that DFAS overpaid you. Don’t move a muscle. Seriously. Don’t withdraw it. Don’t try to pay it back. And for the love of God, don’t spend it. They will take it back. Whenever they darn well feel like it. It may be tomorrow, it may be six months from now. And they don’t just withdraw it from your account, they dock your paycheck. So sometime in the future, be certain, you will have a smaller paycheck, if any paycheck at all. And if you already spent the extra money, you are out of luck.
- TMO lost, broke, smashed your stuff. Moving can be like Christmas. You open boxes after months of living in hotels and empty housing to unveil things you own that you totally forgot about, and it is awesome! And then you open some boxes to find the stuff you had been praying for the last 90 days would make the trip unscathed has not only been damaged but absolutely destroyed. Throw in the fact that you have a limited time to submit a claim to be reimbursed for those items. And, you will probably forget about that date as you navigate the busy schedule of a cross-country move until it’s too late, meaning moving can be a real nightmare.
- Everyone knows, everything. Living on base is a bit like living in a fishbowl. Military families are notoriously gossipy. And, the houses are close together so when you are screaming at your kids, or your husband for that matter, most of the neighborhood can hear your tirade drifting through the open windows. And because it is the unit’s job to make sure your family is doing ok, it essentially makes it their job to know what is happening in your household: the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a great thing when you are married to an E-3, pregnant with twins and already have four kids and no money for Thanksgiving dinner because that unit is most likely going to make sure your family eats on the holiday. This is a bad thing when you are having a meltdown in the commissary because your twins just knocked over an entire display of tampons and you are caught screaming and cussing as your husband’s commander’s wife walks by. You eventually get the feeling you are almost always being watched, by someone.
- The commissary – the day before a holiday. Want to know what the night of the living dead actually looks like? Check the mile long line at the commissary before any four-day weekend or major holiday. That bad boy stretches from the check-out and wraps its way through the frozen food, past the milk and meat and almost into the veggie aisles, filled with exhausted soldiers, harried moms and crying children all staring blankly ahead as they wait desperately to inch forward. Why can one of the largest military forces on the planet manage to plan and execute massive surprise attacks on other nation’s but fail to buy buns and beer more than 24-hours before the Fourth of July? That, my friends, is an unsolved mystery.