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Helpful Links for Military Wives

28 Mar

The military is like a whole other world, and sometimes the hardest part of military life is just knowing where to go and what all is available. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone! Here are a few of my favorite resources:

The Army Family Information Center
This is mainly for Future Soldier families and for families who are relatively new to Army life. If you’re a Soldier’s parent or spouse and your Soldier is in basic training (BCT), advanced infantry training (AIT), or about to leave to join the military, this is a great resource to help answer your questions and provide support & encouragement. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Army Future Soldier Family Facebook Page
Similar to the above and also run by the Army Recruiting Command, but this is a Facebook page for Future Soldier Families. They’re especially useful for answering those shorter questions (like, “Where do I go to get my ID card?”, “Who do I call about Tricare?”) and for helping with social media questions (like, “Does my husband’s unit have a Facebook page?”) Like the FIC, the FSF page on Facebook is open to ALL family members. It’s also a GREAT way to make new friends! Several of the coolest Army wives (and a few husbands!) I know are people I’ve met from this page.

Incidentally, a few resources you’ll want to have are the Tricare page and the RAPIDS Site Locator. The Tricare page will tell you all you need to know about your Tricare health insurance, and the RAPIDS Site Locator will help you find the nearest ID card facility to your home. (Helpful hint: You can get your ID card at ANY RAPIDS site. It doesn’t have to be a full base and it doesn’t have to be the same branch of service as your sponsor!)

Military One Source
Military One Source is, IMO, one of the most valuable sites to ANY military spouse. From here, you can catch up on news affecting the military, find links to other useful sites, and access a LOT of cool programs. For example, did you know that you can file your taxes for FREE using Military One Source? Or that you can order FREE materials (booklets, DVDs, audio files, etc.) to help you, your children, and your family deal with the challenges and stresses of military life?

This is my one “Go To” site for pretty much everything military. The DoD MWR Libraries Resource (link on the MOS site) is great for homeschoolers and has links to SOOO many cool things! The Health & Wellness Coaching Program can help you set up a plan to lose weight, get in shape, quit smoking, or reduce your stress. I can’t explain in a short blog post what all this site has to offer, so go check it out for yourself!

One thing I will mention, though, is the counseling. Being in the military is stressful, but being a military spouse is also stressful. Military One Source offers counseling through telephone and online chat, and they can also help you set up in-person counseling in your local area and refer you to other resources that might help you out. They can also work with financial counseling as well. It’s a GREAT resource and one that you need to keep bookmarked!

My Army One Source
This is a part of the Military One Source network, but it has the AMAZING Army Family Team Building (AFTB) training on this site. TAKE IT! It’s an online course that will help be invaluable to a new Army spouse. There’s a lot of other stuff on this page (tools for volunteers, service & resource referrals, etc.), but I use it for the online training the most.

Take the AFTB Level I before your spouse leaves or as soon as possible. You’ll learn about military acronyms & terms, the chain of command, military customs & courtesies, military benefits (PAY!) and entitlements, community resources, Family Readiness Groups (FRGs), financial readiness, basic problem solving, and helping your Soldier and your children to do well in the Army life.

AFTB Level II is a great module, especially if you plan to get more involved in Army life or to help out with Army programs like the FRG. It not only teaches a little more about the Army, but also about things like time management, working with people, stress management, etc. AFTB Level III is specifically designed for leaders and those in a leadership role, but I think that Level II is useful for everyone. My Army One Source also has training on financial readiness (which is a MUST for Army families!), Internet safety for kids, and the EFMP program (if you or your family has any special medical or educational needs, you need to do this training).

I like to visit SpouseBuzz, a military blogging community which often has the latest information about what’s going on in the military community. It’s not “official”, so you often get a more humorous and laid-back view on what’s going on, but it can be a great source of information for a new spouse.

One Note:
There are a TON of sites out there that are useful for military spouses, but keep in mind that (especially with the unofficial sites!) you’re dealing with a lot of different personalities and a lot of different people. I have a few military forums I frequent from time to time, but with the exception of the “official” links I’ve posted above, there’s always somebody on one of those forums that has a bad attitude. Use the unofficial forums if you want, but remember that one person’s experience is not necessarily indicative of official policy. Just because another person’s husband got to come home on leave in a certain situation doesn’t mean that YOUR husband’s commander will approve the same thing, so take all of it with a grain of salt. Also, don’t write off the military community because of a few bad apples. I’ve heard MANY horror stories about the FRG, but I’ve also heard many very positive experiences about the FRGs as well; don’t refuse to participate in things (like the FRG, unit activities, etc.) just because a random person on the Internet had a bad experience with something similar. Likewise, don’t write off the idea of befriending other military wives because you encountered some mean or rude military wives on one of these forums.

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