An Open Letter of Encouragement to New Military Spouses

Written by Valerie McCarley


Congratulations and welcome to the military spouse community! You have just experienced a major life change and probably have questions about what to expect next. I know I did! As a military spouse for over 15 years, I often think back to those first days and years, wishing someone would have provided me guidance and insight. From one military spouse to another, here are a few things I wish I’d known.


It Truly Is A Community

The military lifestyle can be challenging with frequent moves, coupled with absences from deployments, training, and more. You are not alone! There are so many others who are experiencing the same situations, emotions, and predicaments as you.

I encourage you to lean into your community. Get to know other military spouses. They understand what you are going through and likely need you as much as you need them. Peer-to-peer military spouse support provides a strong foundation for any bumps you encounter on this winding road. Plus, who else will understand all these military acronyms?


New Beginnings

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves can seem a bit overwhelming. So much time, energy, and logistics go into each move, in addition to saying goodbye to the place you’ve called home.

It can be hard to see when you’re surrounded by piles and piles of moving boxes, but a PCS is an amazing opportunity to start new! You have a new location to explore, new people to meet, and a new house to make your home. Give yourself time to settle in. The first six months are always the hardest for me, but then I fall in love with our new location! No matter where you are stationed, there are things to appreciate and eventually miss once you move away.

But, remember, fresh starts can happen anytime! As you gain your confidence as a military spouse, you’ll learn you are resilient and strong. Even deployments can be a time of renewal and growth — one of the many benefits of being a military wife. Focus on the positive and concentrate on the individual changes you can make. You’ll find that you’re stronger both individually and as a couple with this outlook.


Be Open to a Different Path

As a new military spouse, I found myself resigning from a job I loved to move to a new duty station. While I was excited about this new adventure, I was also devastated to be leaving a career I had spent years preparing for. This opened the door to a variety of jobs through multiple PCS moves, including positions on base, in town, and working remotely.

Looking back now, these changes were also opportunities. I’ve learned more about myself as a person and a professional with each transition and have made countless connections. You absolutely can have a career, hobby, or both while also being a military spouse! Do what makes you happy and brings you a sense of contribution.


You’ve Got This!

There will be tough days. You’ll wonder what you got yourself into. You will cry, and you will laugh; you will be heartbroken and filled with joy. It’s all part of the journey. But know that you will get through the hard times and come out even stronger on the other side.

One day, you’ll be giving advice to a new military spouse and you’ll be so thankful for the lessons learned from both the ups and downs of this lifestyle. You’ll be amazed at who you’ve become and what you have accomplished. And you’ll be proud, both of yourself and your service member, of the sacrifices and the triumphs that led you to where you are today. You’ve got this!

Sending you strength and joy,

Valerie McCarley


P.S. You have so many systems and resources to help support you on this journey, including the Armed Services YMCA. They provide free or low-cost programs and services designed to enhance the lives of military members and their families in spirit, mind and body.


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