Military Girlfriend: Etiquette Rules of Military Life

Becoming a military family means there are a few rules of etiquette of military life that every wife or girlfriend should know well. This list isn’t exhaustive, but its covers the basics of what to wear, say and do. 

PCS Season 2017

Some of us have lived this and others are new at it – PCSing. Permanent Change of Station. This is probably the highest-rated stressors among spouses, both new to the game as well as the experienced. There are tons of tips out there to survive your first, or 5th, military move. Our first PCS wasn’t the greatest and wasn’t the worst but we definitely learned a few lessons for next time. For example – make sure the experienced packers do NOT include your glass shelves with your husband’s truck hitch. 

I’m an organizer by trade and lists are my favorite. Here are a few items that should be included in your PCS season checklist:

  1. Take a deep breath. Moving is stressful but it’s also a new and exciting time for you and your family. Bloom where you are planted!
  2. Research your new duty station. Hawaii? Germany? Yes please! Bring on the new experiences, culture, and maybe a beach and a beer. I had so much fun researching Marine Corps Base Hawaii that part of me was ready as soon as we had orders. Volcanoes, beaches, and Mai Tais! adrian-benea-205697
  3. Get your movers and packers lined up. Decide if a DITY move is right for your family or if having the military move you is a better choice. There are pros and cons to both so make sure you weigh them both carefully. Also, be sure and keep a watchful eye during packing. Every mover is different and you do not want to have your items arrive in a condition that would have been better if your 2 year old had packed.
  4. Pet Situation. OCONUS moves as well as Hawaii require certain tests and flight requirements for your pet. Make sure you know the rules and regulations for your new area.
  5. Housing. On base or off? House or an apartment? Again, there are pros and cons to  both but make sure you make the best choice for you and yours. Opinions and recommendations are great but don’t weigh them too heavily up front. 
  6. Join Spouses Facebook Page. In this day and age, everyone is on Facebook. Join the page and get acquainted with others in your new area. You can even line up play dates, coffee dates, and potential babysitters!

wordswag_1492027543503There are hundreds of moving tips out there because each of us military spouses have had our own unique experiences. Embrace the change and open yourself up to every new experience coming your way. Moving is never fun – regardless of when it happens. Just know there is a light, and maybe a glass of wine, at the end of the tunnel.

MCB Hawaii and Lejeune Resources

If you happen to be moving to Jacksonville, NC or Marine Corps Base Hawaii some great pages to check out are:

Michelle is a virtual assistant by trade, and a military spouse by love. Her husband Sean is a pilot in the Marine Corps, and they have been married for 4 years. Learn more about her virtual assistant services here: MichellePen.com.

Receiving Letters From Love Ones While Deployed

I’ll never forget the first time my platoon received mail during our 2009-10 deployment to Helmand Afghanistan.  Late one winter night, we were awakened to provide security for a mail convoy coming in. After not receiving any sort of communication from the outside world for the first month and some change, we gladly suited up.

Tips on Writing a Modern Love Letter to Your Recruit on Valentine’s Day

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wwii-homecoming-kiss “The sight of that shining moon up there—the moon that shines on you, too—fills me with romance—; and even though it’s just a dream now, it’s a promise of a glorious future with one I love more than life. The darned old moon keeps shining for us, darling—and even as it now increases that inescapable loneliness, it also increases my confidence in the future. I truly love you….”

They say people that don’t talk like that anymore. Why? This quote, taken from a letter written by Pauline “Polly” Elliott to her husband Frank M. Elliot serving in Normandy during World War II, seems to come from another era entirely. What’s happened in the past 70 years that makes language like Polly’s seem so foreign? Is it possible to translate the magic of her words into our modern age of texting, abbreviations and social media?

Definitely. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner we want to offer a few tips on what to think about when you’re writing your recruit a love letter and how you can make your letters to him all the more special.

old-letter-to-soldierWriting Your Recruit a Love Letter

First, think about your audience. Would you rather your letter be public or private—a post on Facebook or Instagram or a handwritten note for his eyes-only? These days we have so many options for communication it’s hard to pick one, but it’s also important to consider how your recruit would like to hear from you. This might seem like a weird thing to think about, but everyone is different and appreciates different gestures.

Focus and Put in the Time

Second, take a breath, and devote some serious time to your letter. Our lives today are full of constant distractions, and although it might seem easy to write out a few quick sentences and be done with it, your letter will mean so much more if you sit down, clear your mind, and reflect on what you want to say and how you want to communicate your emotions. Look at Polly! Obviously you don’t need to be quite as extreme, but it’s also very clear that she didn’t write those words lightly, and that makes a huge difference.

spanish-american-war-letter-to-soldiersThink of Their Situation

Third, be mindful of your recruit’s situation. He (or she) is living a totally different life than you and there might be certain things that he wants to hear about and others that he might not. Make sure to ask him direct questions so that he has something to respond to and don’t be afraid to write him first! These guys are exhausted, both mentally and physically, and sometimes they might not have the capacity to write a fantastic letter back to you. This is OK as long as you keep the conversation going—including special memories or attaching pictures are also great ways to show how much you care.

Finally, using Sandboxx you can take all of these tips and write your recruit a love letter up until Monday at 5pm with the guarantee that it will reach him on Valentine’s Day!

If you want to see more examples of Polly’s letters to Frank check out this article in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/70-years-later-love-letters-tell-of-wwii-couples-romance-and-tragedy/2015/05/24/02bca130-ffbb-11e4-8b6c-0dcce21e223d_story.html?utm_term=.affb9253fd49

 

 

Proposing at Your Basic Training Graduation: Mistake or the Perfect Time?

It’s flashy, it’s exciting, it’s the combination of two of the most momentous days of your life.

But is it also a decision you will regret?

Ryan and Jenny

Ryan and Jenny first met in biology class in their suburban Georgia high school. Their personal chemistry was evident nearly immediately. Jenny started coming to Ryan’s baseball games with her girlfriends, while he would tell his buddies in the dugout about his big plans for their future together. After nine months of dating, Ryan followed the call he felt to serve in the military.

At the age of 18, he reported to Air Force Basic Military Training, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. At graduation, with his whole family and closest friends there to witness, the new Airman proposed. Ryan and Jenny were married within ninety days and began a whole new life together.

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The Good

The happy newlyweds didn’t mind postponing their honeymoon for Ryan’s specialty training. Although Jenny had some trouble finding work as he moved around during the first year in the Air Force, they found the military community strong, and enjoyed exploring new locations as they built a life together.

In today’s military, getting married young is not uncommon. On average, military couples get married a full four years younger than their civilian counterparts.

Why are boot camp (and other early) proposals so common? On one hand, it makes perfect sense.

Young, new military members have achieved many of the other signs of adulthood early: a steady paycheck, moving out, training in a profession, owning a vehicle, and making significant decisions for their own lives. It would follow that marriages and kids would follow the accelerated timeline.

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Tens of thousands of successful, long-term military marriages started young.

Andi Edwards and her husband married at age 19 and they have been married 13 years. “Our biggest tips have always been: Ignore the people who say it can’t be done (because it CAN!!!). Focus on being your best selves and treating each other as you want to be treated. Faith is our family’s focus and that has carried us through tough times, too.” spousebuzz

The Bad

Unfortunately, as your seasoned basic training staff will tell you: just because it feels right doesn’t mean you won’t regret it.

The bigger the life decision, the less you should rush into it

Ryan and Jenny’s life together became progressively more difficult, as more moves made building careers and deep friendships increasingly difficult for Jenny. Ryan was absent more frequently due to his travel. After his first deployment to Kandahar, he came home a changed man. Distant from Jenny and drinking more, their relationship was already on the rocks when his second deployment came only a year later.

Many young service members and their girlfriends/boyfriends don’t have the life experience to objectively understand their difficult future path and their relationship capacity. How many new high school graduates even have their own unique identity established, distinct from the influence of their childhood environment and parents?

Unfortunately, “young age at first marriage has been found to predict a higher rate of divorce in the military population,” and the military’s divorce rate hovers between 2-3 times higher than civilian counterparts. The higher the deployment tempo, the worse it fares. “Forty-eight percent of couples who marry before 18 are likely to divorce within 10 years. Only 24 percent of those who marry after age 25 will divorce within 10 years. That doesn’t mean half those teen marriages last forever. That means only half of them even make it to the tenth anniversary.” military.com

The chances are, do you think you’ll be an exception to the rule? Military relationships are hard–separation, training, stress, danger, and frequent moves make sacrifice a lifestyle for spouses.

Rose-colored glasses are dangerous upon entering such a difficult commitment, as Jenny and Ryan found out, although they did survive, recover, and have a strong marriage to this day.

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You Decide

Military marriages are tough, and boot camp is a very early time to propose. However, with unwavering commitment and an appetite for adventure, many military couples have enjoyed rewarding decades together.

Can you be one of them?

That’s for you to decide.

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Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families, and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

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Military Girlfriend 101 – What You Need To Know

girlfriend's arms wrapped around soldier holding dog tags

Ashley Sevcik’s boyfriend, Diego, is into his final weeks of training to become a Marine on Parris Island. Ashley has been using Sandboxx to send her recruit letters so we asked her some of the questions that we hear from military other-halves every day.

How long did it take you to get his address?

It took about 1-2 weeks to receive his address. His mom had tracked down someone that worked at the local recruiting office in order to get the address.

How long did it take for you to receive the first letter?

It was about 2 weeks before I received my first letter from him. My recruit is down at Parris Island so it takes about 4-5 days for a letter to get to me.

How often do you write?

I try to send him a letter everyday before I go to bed from the Sandboxx app. I think it’s important to write as often as you can because it really does help them get through their rigorous training.

What do you write about?

Anything and everything. I lay on my bed at the end of the day and start off the letter with what happened that day. I try to tell him funny stories to lift his spirits as often as I can. If something bad happened that day I refrain from telling him about it because it’s important for these letters to be positive, the last thing your recruit needs is to be worried about you. Once I’ve told him about my day I’ll go on to tell him how much I miss and love him. At this point I start to give him a pep talk. Training is hard, mentally and physically, so it’s extremely important that they know there are people rooting for them. I use encouraging phrases like, “I believe in you” and “you got this” regularly.

Do you keep in touch with his family?

Yes! I talk to him mom a few times a week to see how she’s doing. It can be difficult on a family when their loved one goes away for training, so knowing that you are there supporting them helps a lot.

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What do you do instead of hanging out with him?

I try to keep as busy as possible. I found that for me, keeping busy helps me stay positive. Always having something to do or somewhere to go keeps my mind off of him. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Go out with friends, take walks, go to the movies, paint, dance, do anything that makes you happy.

Do you have any advice for future military girlfriends?

Don’t give up on your recruit. They need you now more than ever. I won’t lie, it’s really difficult at times. There are moments when I’ll see something that reminds me of a memory he and I share and it’ll make me sad, but the sadness doesn’t last long. The first few weeks are tough. You have to get used to not having your best friend by your side 24/7 and it sucks, however, it does get easier. Soon your recruit starts to get used to boot camp and you get used to being without them. It’s difficult but nothing worth having comes easily. Send letters, be positive and don’t forget to focus on your own happiness!

 

Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

How to send Letters to Boot Camp

marine holding sandboxx letter

Last week we asked Whitney, whose fiancé is currently in Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, if she had any feedback after sending her fiancé letters from the Sandboxx app. Thanks to Whitney for allowing us to post her feedback and why she loves using Sandboxx.

The Sandboxx app is amazing! It has saved soooo much money now on stamps and envelopes for me and my recruit. Sandboxx gives a free return envelope and it’s pre-stamped.

Also I don’t have to worry about waking up at the crack of dawn and rushing to print out my letters ‘cause I write too much, then try to make it to the mailbox before the mail truck comes.

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With Sandboxx they make your letters look amazing and really neat. And the pictures are the BIGGEST help ever!! I am tired of wasting my money on CVS pictures and having to make them look right…but I like how Sandboxx prints out my pictures. No more hassle with stamps and having to pay a ridiculous amount for a book of stamps. It’s killing me here, finally I found the amazing SANDBOXX APP! And I want to give a BIG THANK YOU TO THE AMAZING HELP TEAM! Through all of this my fiancé and I will never forget y’all!

Sandboxx is an app for service members, recruits, their families and supporters. It was created by two Marines and a Marine father who wanted to make it easier to stay in touch with family when off-the-grid without a phone and with units when they were back home. Download Sandboxx free.

From ROTC to OCS – How this Military Couple stays Connected

Team Sandboxx loves connecting military families through the Sandboxx app. Recently we heard from Sydney, who explained how she uses Sandboxx to keep in touch with her boyfriend:

At Norwich University, I am an Army ROTC cadet training to become an Army nurse. I met my love during my freshman year of college.

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As a Marine Corps ROTC cadet, he will be at OCS for 6 weeks this summer while I spend 8 weeks between LDAC and NSTP. This is the first time we have been apart in 3 years. For the 60 days (+14 hours, 22 minutes, and counting) that we have been a part, communicating has been difficult.

Sandboxx is unique in that it allows me to not only send him a letter, but it includes a picture, and gives him stationery, an envelope and a stamp so that he can write back even when he is in the field.

I am currently participating in the Nursing Summer Training Program at Fort Hood and work 12 hour shifts at the hospital. Sandboxx  makes writing a letter on my lunch break easy. I can just open the app, type up my letter, attach a picture and  hit send. I don’t have to worry about finding an envelope or buying a stamp because their team does that for me. No more waiting for mail call in the morning to submit my letters.

I find comfort in knowing that as soon as I press send, my message is heading to my loved ones. Sandboxx truly is a fantastic company that helps keep military families stay connected.

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As a future officer in the military I have learned that you can’t always plan where you’ll be, but with new ideas such as Sandboxx, I know I will be able to stay in touch with my family and friends no matter where the military takes me.

Families can send messages and photos from the Sandboxx app to service members and recruits who are off-the-grid without their phones. Just type your message on the app, add a photo and hit send. We’ll print and send your letter and include a stamped, addressed return envelope. Sandboxx is also a great place to find and connect with your current and past units.