By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

When you are a military spouse, you are on your own — or at least it can feel that way. I know that I personally shoulder a lot of responsibility, and I always find myself thinking about how much I can handle when I don’t know if my spouse will be home. I can’t rely on family when they are far away. 

When something goes wrong or is unexpected, what can you do? It can be challenging. In the moments when you feel like crying or when your life seems to be falling apart, one way to cope is to soldier on and push through. Reaching out for help is another option. I have found my fellow military spouses to be some of the kindest and most compassionate people when other spouses are stuck in a tight situation. I faced one of these kinds of situations one winter.

A few years ago, my oldest son was having trouble breathing in the middle of the night. And while this was something that had happened before, this time my husband was on the other side of the country and we happened to be in the middle of a snowstorm that had already piled up 14 inches of snow. I was alone, not a confident driver in the snow, with only  a minivan to get me through it. I didn’t know what to do. But I knew my friend had a truck and lived down the road. Even though it was almost midnight, I called her. At first, she didn’t pick up. So, I started getting my kids ready to drive to the hospital while also continuing to use  the nebulizer to try and get my son’s asthma under control. 

Before we were even ready for the hospital, my friend had called back and, as I explained the situation, she told me she was coming over. Luckily, my son’s breathing had finally started to regulate. The medicine had done its work and we ended up not going to the hospital.

My friend showed up. In the middle of the night. In the middle of a blizzard. Willing to help. I won’t ever forget that moment. And as silly as I felt for calling, especially when we ended up not going to the hospital, I’m glad I did. 

More recently, this past month, a friend’s husband had an unexpected medical situation. With no family to rely on, it was a moment of challenge. But we have a text-message group and happened to be meeting in person the day after the initial event took place. We collectively came around to help her in different ways. And as we worked through the different challenges that came up, we found solutions and were able to support a friend in need. 

While having community is important, there are some other things that you should know about medical needs as a military family. I think the most important thing to know is that if you are experiencing an emergency, you should go to the closest emergency room right away. When we lived in Ohio, the base had a hospital. But when we brought our son into the ER for breathing issues, they quickly transferred him to the children’s hospital. We were told that if there were further issues, we should go directly to the closest children’s hospital and not come to the base hospital. 

Another important thing to know is where the closest urgent care clinic that accepts TRICARE is located. Urgent care centers can help with many different medical issues, and not having to worry about where to go can make a medical situation less stressful. 

Building a plan for emergencies before you have one is one of the most important things you can do for your military family. Filling out the emergency contact at the beginning of a new school year in a new place can be so stressful. After I explained our family situation — living far away from family in a new place — I have found people more than willing to be my emergency contact even when they don’t know me well. Even though it might feel awkward to reach out to someone you don’t know well and ask them to support you in an emergency, you will often be surprised by people’s kindness and willingness to help. 

As a former servicemember, learning to ask for help was a hard lesson for me. I learned it, but it took people offering to help — without me asking them — to realize not only how much I needed help but how willing others were to provide it. Sometimes within the military community there can be a stigma around getting help. However, unexpected issues pop up, and in those moments, we need our community to help each other and make military life just a little bit easier. 

I hope that you have a community around you that can support you. I know how hard it is to find at different locations as you move from place to place. But it is worth the effort to find that community.

Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Serviceis the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more. 

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