What it Means to be a Working Military Spouse

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Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 12th, occupies a place of pride in our hearts at Adecco. It’s a time to honor military spouses for their service to our country, on the home front. We recognize military spouses for the personal sacrifices they make, as well as the determination and adaptability they bring to work and home life.  

For most people outside of the military, this holiday passes unceremoniously. So, along the spectrum of sentiment between tomfoolery – September’s Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day and awe-inspiring reverence – Independence Day, where does Military Spouse Day live?  What is its tone? Let me suggest:  the High Five. 

It’s a celebration of the courage, strength, and resolve to support our nation and family. It’s acknowledging that deployments and other crises stole precious moments that we’ll never get back. But those hardships are tempered by camaraderie and by knowing that the shared sacrifices serve a purpose larger than we are. 

Like most military spouses, I never planned to be one, but life and love worked out that way. A decade ago, if you said you were “stuck on base,” I would have thought we were talking about baseball. Eventually you understand what marrying the military means. You find yourself in tears over accidently deleting a six-month old voicemail about groceries – It was another hard day, and you just really needed to hear his voice.

Being a military spouse is an odd, hard-to-explain mix of pride, frustration, excitement, hurrying, waiting, and learning to appreciate the moments you have together. Moving to a new town every few years means having to reestablish roots – new friends, new schools for our kids, new homes, new doctors and babysitters, and most importantly – new hair stylists. (I really despise that, actually.) Or, for many military spouses – constantly restarting careers.

I started my career before marrying into the military and, then, invested little thought in the potential career strain of frequent military moves. Fortunately, despite living in six different cities over the past 12 years, I’ve continued to work for the same company while advancing professionally and having two children. 

When it comes to being a working mother and a military spouse, my philosophy is this:  You can have it all, you just can’t do it all…not at the same time. Embrace the motto, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Your family deserves that from you, just as they owe it to you.

When my husband deployed, and our kids were small, I started two family traditions: Dance Party Thursday Nights and Pizza-Movie Friday Nights. Adding this predictability to our week gave the kids something to look forward to and helped them pass the weeks until their daddy came home safely. Even when I traveled for work, babysitters and out-of-town grandparents participated in our new routine. If it weren’t for my mother’s immense help in those key years, I doubt that I could have continued working full time. Thank you, Mom.

When I was little, my mother worked because she had to. Now, my kids see a mom who views work as an opportunity, not a chore. I view our military lifestyle that way, too. The satisfaction I get from helping military spouses and veterans find work gives me purpose. My kids sense that. 

Some lessons only work by example. I believe being a military spouse has made me a better employee.

So if you’re a military spouse and/or working mom, put you hand on the screen…High Five!  (Don’t leave me hangin’!)  Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

Contributor

Rachelle Chapman joined Adecco Group, the global leader in workforce solutions in 2005 and currently serves as the Senior Manger for Strategic Partnerships and is the Military Liaison for Adecco. Rachelle manages the Adecco Military Alliance program; a recruitment program aimed at hiring military spouses and veterans. She also manages the Athlete Career and Education Program, a program designed to provide Olympic and Paralympic athletes with career counseling, job placement assistance and employment opportunities. Adecco is an official sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee and partners with the USOC to facilitate the ACE program. In addition, Rachelle oversees Adecco’s experienced worker program.

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