By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

The military classifies military spouses as dependents, and there have been some negative stereotypes over the years about military spouses and their dependence on their servicemembers. However, military spouses regularly face many challenges and even though the military may limit the things they can do. MilSpouses show that they are not dependent on their spouses to take care of their families and make changes in their community. The truth is that military spouses do many amazing things.

I think from the outside, it can often look easy to be a military spouse. But the challenges military spouses face are both vast and difficult in a way few people understand. When I was in the military, I joined and was involved in various military spouse groups because my husband was serving. It wasn’t until I left the military and lost my identity as a servicemember that I truly understood the challenges of the spouses I met. 

It is hard to move across the country or maybe even to another country to follow your spouse’s career. Moving for spouses can often mean losing a career or not being near family or friends. Starting over as a military spouse is hard. It requires a spouse to be brave enough to make new friends, but often, even for those who are outgoing, it can be very lonely. 

Military spouses show how independent they are when they don’t let barriers placed on them by being married to a servicemember hold them back. Let’s see how it’s done.

Separation in military families is not uncommon. While most people think the majority of time military families spend apart is during a deployment, it’s just one of the many times that a family may be separated from their servicemember. Many servicemembers have to attend weeks- or month-long trainings to stay current or acquire new skills. Short trips for meetings or field training can uproot lives and make it so the spouse has to manage the household alone. 

Although this is something that civilians also face, military spouses have the added challenge of moving every few years and having little to no support network to rely on when their spouse isn’t home. I have asked people I have just met to be my emergency contacts. It seems like things go wrong when a spouse is away, even if just for a few days. But somehow military spouses find a way to keep going for their families even when their spouse is away. 

Unemployment still continues to be a challenge for military spouses. It has consistently been over 20% for the last few years. Military spouses are finding ways to not only find meaningful careers but are also advocating for change for other military spouses. Remote work and careers that can be done online have helped military spouses find meaningful work and be able to stay with a company or build their own and take it with them each time they move. 

Military spouses are also advocating for change on Capitol Hill.. In 2023, President Biden signed the Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act, which had a provision to allow military spouses’ licenses, except for a law license, to transfer when they move to a new state. The law was vague in how it was to be implemented, but many states have allowed  military spouses to get certified in their new state after they move and find work without having to go through the license process. 

Military spouses are also leading several initiatives to make it easier for military spouses to get hired by the federal government, while also working with civilian companies to help them understand the value of military spouses. 

Military spouses are finding themselves to be experts who can share about the unique challenges they face while supporting their servicemembers; advocate for military culture change; and help tackle the problem the military is facing recruiting new members. 

Corrie Weathers shared her research about military culture in her book Military Culture Shift. This book has given Weathers a platform to share her findings across the country at various military organizations. 

Other military spouses have created non-profits as a way to advocate for change for military spouses and families. For example, in 2010, Sue Hopkins created the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) with the goal of removing barriers to military spouse employment and entrepreneurship through education, events, and advocacy. Over the past 14 years, Hopkins and her team have worked to advocate for change.

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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