By Selena Conmackie
Guest Blogger

THE Binder.

I watched my best friend’s eyes fill up with tears and her lip quiver as she tried confidently to tell me she was fine when I asked a joyous question: “You are out! Oh, my gosh! How do you feel?” on her first day as a retired MilSpouse.

I was confused by her response and then jumped into I-need-to-support-my-friend mode. We talked it through and I understood more about the time when our lives were so interwoven with the military lifestyle and how saying goodbye to that can cause grief. Yes. Grief to a life that, although we often fretted what would happen from this PCS to that, it was still our life.

Flash forward to a year later when my husband got deployed just as his retirement paperwork made it to itʻs first destination of approval. I felt panic. 

Are we ready? 

Before he began preparations to deploy with his unit overseas, we knew we needed to see how much pre-retirement planning he could tackle. My husband operates best with hard-copy binders and hasnʻt latched onto my digital world of organization. For example:

Him: “Babe, whenʻs our niece’s birthday?”

Me: “Itʻs in our Google Family Calendar”

Him: “&*$^%& BABEEE, I canʻt… I donʻt know what my email is to check it. Just tell me what her birthday is!”

So yes, we do binders. 

A recently retired MilSpouse and her husband created a phenomenal organization tool that was like a play-by-play of everything an Army spouse should do three years before retirement. You MUST check out her latest episode here on YouTube where she talks about it with SpouseLink Ambassador Anna Larson.

Back to the binder. I dived into my friend’s toolkit with my husband who was a little surprised at our lack of organization. I decided we needed to structure his retirement like one of my work projects.

We marked deadlines, assembled important documents, and started a calendar to keep him/us on track.

Heʻs all set now. 

But nothing in the binder is really for me. Like Me, Me. Iʻm not sure what I wanted really. 

It was silly, but all I could recall was my best friend saying, “Can I still call myself a MilSpouse?” I understood now why she said that, because I thought of all the communities I am currently connected to and thought, will that all be gone?

Iʻve only been a MilSpouse for seven years, so I know I can hack going back to civilian life again. But the last seven years have had me IN military life and I’m not sure how I feel about not being an ACTIVE-duty MilSpouse anymore.

You know how when you decide you want a red corvette and all of a sudden itʻs all you see on the road? Well, I started really seeing retired MilSpouses… EVERYWHERE… in the same circles I was in.

They were championing MilSpouse unemployment policies, writing screenplays that garnered media attention, running non-profits and successful small businesses. 

So, in my ”binder” is a reminder to keep leaning on those same MilSpouses with questions, what-to-doʻs and what-not-to-do’s to get my husband and I both to the end of this chapter and the beginning of our new one.

Can I share something we are both looking forward to though that I feel is like a guilty pleasure and has nothing to do with financial security, seeking my hubbyʻs next career outside of the military, home repairs, how our TRICARE will work as a retired dependent, life insurance and VA follow-ups?

A hidden folder in the back of his very official retirement binder.

Vacationing whenever we want. Yes. Leaving town without submitting 3,957,845 forms for approval with the possible understanding it can be recalled. Last-minute trips that involve an airplane and leaving the country if we wanted. And PLANNED vacations that can be put on the calendar in PEN (this is the hubby’s paper-and-pen way of organization, remember).

Iʻm looking forward to the husband’s reasons now why we canʻt go.

Retired MilSpouses, what did you look forward to MOST when your spouse retired?

About Selena Conmackie

Some call Selena their Social Media Gal, Website Designer Extraordinaire Guru, Genius (their words, not hers). But she’s also a Military Spouse following her husband with her kid and dog in tow to wherever the Army sends them. So, just add Rockstar Mom and Ah-mazing Wife to her list.​ H A U O L I is the name of her small boutique business. It means Happy in Hawaiian and has a special meaning that became the inspiration for her new journey. Her goal is to help your business to succeed — and social media plays a part in that. She enjoys the game of hashtags and algorithms and helping her clients optimize their online presence.

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