Monday, May 25, 2009

On Being An Air Force Wife.... Part 2

Through my blog I get a lot of questions about what it is like being an Air Force wife. I know that my experiences are not typical, and that some other spouses have had a harder time with being married to the military, while others yet, have an easier time.

I have decided to post some parts of emails that I have sent in answer to questions that I get as a way to help others.
I know that some people may disagree with my answers, because their experience is different than mine, and that is fine.I am just saying that this is my experience, my life and the way that I have seen things unfold in the last 14 years of being married into the Air Force.

If your experience is different then you post about it on your blog, please don't slam me for my experiences.

So without further ado here is part two:

The question leading to this answer was:
I guess the only other question I have for you is about life on base. I dont really know what to expect from the people. I know you said he would be meeting other airmen with families, but I am a young wife, and mother. I have found this to be a problem in my home community- the other people my "age" arent at the same place in life. We have three children and pulling all nighters might be the norm for some 22 year olds, but our all nighters involve childrens tylenol, and cinderella. I worry that this will also be an issue with other air force mothers, who are likely to be officers wives, and in their 30's instead of 20's. The recruiter maintains that the people are wonderful, but in reality... are they? Any new town is a strange situation, I know. But is it easier with other air force families? And shopping, or daycare or babysitting. Is that hard to come by?

My Answer:
Is he enlisting or going in as an officer? Officers wives can be their own breed, and tend to stick together. Most of them have degrees too, so they are career oriented almost as much as their husbands. Not in a bad way, just in their own way. I can say these things because some of my favorite co-workers/friends have been officers wives, we just didnt tend to hang out, outside of that realm. I have only known a few that had children at a young age, so you are right there.

Enlisted tend to have families younger, or so it seems. We had our kids young too, but usually managed to meet others about our age with kids too, you just have to look and get involved in the moms clubs. After we had been in England about 2 years and the girls were older we found babysitters we could trust (teenagers that went to the school I taught at, and people that Jerry worked with's kids), so we went out more. But at Eglin both times we hardly ever went out, found and had friends that liked bbqing, hanging out at home. Trust me, you can find people with common interests, you just have to look. At lot of the times Air Force famlies tend to be more welcoming and open because they have been the "new kid" too.


She also asked about benefits like Tricare (insurance):

Benefits are supposed to start right away. Like when he reports to meps or something like that you can get your id too. I am not 100% on how that works I just know that a few friends from Atlanta had to come down to Robins to get thier ID's when their husbands went off to basic, they were national guard, but the same in theory. All you should have to do from there is show your id, tell whoever the provider is that you have tricare, and they figure it out. Before you get an assigned base if you dont live near one you would be Tricare Prime, I think, you can go to www.tricare.com and its all explained. One you see an off base provider, the other you are seen by an on base provider. The on base provider program you pay nothing out of pocket unless you go into the hospital, the other you have a co-payment I believe. If there is a problem usually the recruiter can help you out, or the people at meps (depending on how close it is).

Also about shopping:

On base you will have access to the BX (shopping, kinda sorta a small walmartish, not a good description), then the commisarry (the grocery store), shopette/gas station (convience store), Class 6 (liquor store, lots of times part of the shopette). Most bases are in or around a fairly good sized town, so there will be Walmart and other grocery type stores close. Overseas it tends to be you do most of your shopping on base, because off base you have to pay in what ever the local currency is, and the exchange rate can be wacky. There will be things that you would buy off base because it is just "better", but probably not a whole lot (unless you are like us, who had Welsh neighbors who introduced us to many "british" things that we now miss and even once we moved on base I would go off base to buy. If you live overseas and they give the chance to live "off base" take it, yes its more expensive but you gain a wealth of experience that you cant beat.
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