The PCSing Spouse

Where Spouses Help Spouses

Month: May 2018

Welcome (to my) Home!

Homecoming is such an epic event. I spend an entire deployment waiting for it, counting down the days, crossing off dates on the calendar. I plan what I’ll wear, and I get my hair and nails done. I clean the house and cars, grocery shop for all the meals I’ll make him, and give the dog a bath. The week before a homecoming is a flurry of to-do lists and carving out time to get it all done.


And then, it happens. It sneaks up on me. I find myself at the squadron compound, in my dress and heels, wishing I had put on more deodorant and not knowing exactly how I got there. The waiting is unbearable, but when those buses pull up and I see my husband step off, all feels right with the world. For about two glorious minutes.

Any seasoned spouse will tell you, homecoming is blissful, but reintegration, that’s a whole other beast.


It’s very easy for the new spouse, or the spouse who is experiencing a deployment homecoming for the first time, to be crushed. Dreams of holding hands and running across the beach together while rainbows and unicorns appear out of thin air are quickly dashed away by the sound of “Babe! Where do we keep the laundry detergent?”


Prior to this (6th) deployment, we PCS’d from California to Florida. We bought a new house and had our household goods delivered on August 11th. My husband left on September 10th. I was left to organize the house and make it a home. Which I did. My home.


For eight months I lived alone in “my” house. I had a routine. It was blissful. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my husband terribly. I had nights where I cried myself to sleep. But most nights I sprawled out on “my” bed and watched Harry Potter or whatever else I wanted on TV.


I put everything where I wanted it. I made all the food I like to eat. I got very comfortable living alone in “my” house. And then he came back. And he wanted to live in “my” house. And it is very disruptive.


It’s hard not to get irritated when he can’t figure out which light switches turn on which lights, or how to work the remote controls. He can’t find the paper towels/soap/can opener/insert other commonly used item here. It’s maddening when he yells “where do we keep the light bulbs?” or clutters up my kitchen counter with random stuff like his car keys and the mail.


And sleeping. What’s that? My nightly ritual of hot tea with honey and a good book in “my” quiet bed has become a fight for the covers and the NBA finals on TV. What is happening???


Homecoming is happening. Reintegration is happening. And you know what? It is not fun. It is frustrating and awkward. It is stepping all over each other’s toes and trying to have patience when he can’t figure out how to pre-heat the oven. I am trying. I really am.


If you have been through this, you know what I am talking about. And if you haven’t, please take note. Homecoming is a beautiful event. It’s amazing! But actually coming home is not so much. It’s a lot of give and take. I try hard to remember that I lived here alone for eight months and he was here for 30 days hanging TVs on the wall and out-processing for a deployment.


So, have patience. Learn to live together again. Give him some slack when he can’t find the laundry basket and moves your towel to a different hook. He’s trying too. I’m still working on remembering that “my” house is “our” home.

Article and pictures by Georgia Jones


Careers and the MilSpouse: The Good, the Bad and the Reality

“We’ve got orders.” Those three words have two reactions; instant excitement for a new journey, or a wave of anxiety that starts a mental “to-do list.” Either way, this phrase is bound to arise once, twice, eight times in your life as a MilSpouse; and after the first few pack outs, unpacking and rearranging, it becomes easier to accept a new zip code as home. If only the employment path for a MilSpouse could be as organized and orchestrated as a move with a  good moving company. As a former Career Counselor in Hampton Roads Virginia working with Veterans, exiting Military members and Military Spouses; and being a MilSpouse myself, I know firsthand the interruption a PCS can bring to a career. Whether you are just beginning your career after graduating college, or you are returning to the workforce after raising your children, navigating the ever changing and not always accepting world of workforce can be daunting. It is my hope that in the next five posts I am able to offer some tips of the trade and suggestions to make the process of looking for and returning to work less stressful and overwhelming.

Along with my co-workers, we developed these top six recommendations for MilSpouses who are seeking employment. I will address each of these steps in the next five posts. These tips work for all stages of your career path.

  1. Brainstorm Your Work History and Skills
  2. Develop a Working Resume
  3. Visit Your Local Workforce Development Agency/Employment Commission
  4. Create a LinkedIn Profile
  5. Join a Military Spouse Employment Group
  6. Be Flexible

Brainstorming Your Work History and Skills


Some of you may say, well wait a second, I haven’t worked in ___ months/years/ever. Or, I have been out of the workforce for over ___ months/years, or even; my degree/certification doesn’t match what I really want to do now, I think I covered them all, if not, not to worry, you can still create a killer resume.  Grab a sheet of paper, a cup of coffee and about 30 minutes of free time and a quiet place to think. Ask yourself these questions, what do you do at home to keep things running smoothly on a day to day basis? What about while your spouse is deployed, TDY, underway, or on duty? Do you volunteer for the command, at an outside public or private entity? If you don’t have a long work history, but plenty of volunteer experience, you have work experience! Paying bills, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be and on time, working a soup kitchen or bake sale? Translate those skills to: bookkeeping and financial management, time management and organizational skills; good communication and written skills, fundraising. See where we are going here? Just because you may not have had a solid 8-5, you still have skills that are utilized in the workforce; you just have to know how to word them. If you have been volunteering on a consistent basis, while financially uncompensated, that still falls under employment, and can be used to show work history, and skills.  If you have work experience, list the employer and duties in chronological order going back 10 years. This process can take a couple of days or even weeks, don’t feel overwhelmed. Your resume is your “face” to the employer until you land the interview; you want to show your best. In the next post we will look at determining which style resume is best suited for you and how to create it.

Until next time;

Empowered Women, empower Women


**** Welcome**** to our newest blog teammate Keadra Young-Bogardus!

Keadra is a USN wife by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan who is currently stationed in Northeast Ohio with her husband who is a recruiter. Her background is in Law Enforcement; however, degrees in Sociology and Public Administration brought her to the world of Workforce Development. Keadra’s hobbies include fostering her budding business Kubed, LLC a training and consulting agency, and raising their daughter.

Surviving a Birth During Deployment

I truly believe the hardest thing I have ever done with my life was entering motherhood during a deployment. There wasn’t anything remotely similar in my life beforehand to prepare me for this and I felt as though I was greatly naive about the entire situation. My husband left for pre-deployment training when I was 28 weeks pregnant, came home for 4 days when I was 36 weeks pregnant, and met our daughter 1 week shy of her turning 5 months old.


We had a plan, but our plan really only was for birth and a few weeks after birth, it didn’t extend the entire time of that deployment, and that’s where I feel I could have done a lot of things differently. Hindsight is 20/20 right?


At my 4 week postpartum check up, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and things just went downhill from there. I didn’t allot for appropriate rest time. I didn’t let my body heal- and by attempting to do too much, without help I was in a very hard place emotionally and physically. I was having anxiety attacks daily, migraines, nutrition deficiency, and a ton of other issues.


Because of my poor planning, I want to share with you some realistic things for mothers out there who are about to embark on a birth during a deployment to utilize and plan for.


  1. Hire a Postpartum Doula- while we had one, I did not use her the way I truly should have. A Postpartum Doula can do everything from help around the house, take care of baby so you can sleep or eat a meal in peace, to helping establish some self care. They can cook meals, do dishes and laundry, and assist with pumping, diaper changes, etc. They truly are a helper just for mom.
  2. Arrange for daycare or a mommy’s helper once a week. Once the first month or so has passed and you’re starting to find your new balance, I highly recommend hiring in a sitter or mommy’s helper to watch the kids to give you some much needed reprieve for you just to do something for YOU- this isn’t meant to help with errands or chores, this is purely so YOU get a break mama- because during a deployment, there is no break- we all know this.
  3. Outsource as much as you can– this means grocery delivery, or grocery pick up, paying for a lawn service, house cleaner, etc. Take the weight of everything off your shoulders but helping you through this transition time so you can truly HEAL physically from labor, but more importantly EMOTIONALLY.
  4. Seek counseling even if you think you are perfectly fine– dealing with a home, a new baby, managing work, the house, budget, keeping up a marriage- it’s hard just during a normal deployment, but during a birth a lot of emotions happen and a lot of thoughts, sometimes it’s just nice to speak with someone who isn’t involved just to make sure at the end of the day you truly are OK. Worst case, they send you away with some better coping mechanisms and validate your feelings. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it means you’re being proactive.
  5. Ask for a meal train after the family leaves– we had a ton of people bringing me meals after the baby was born, but I really needed that kind of help after my entire family went home. It was the time after 1 month that I really needed the help with meals. So if someone, or the squadron, or anyone offers to do meals- ask for them after the family is gone.

It’s my hope that sharing my story of planning for birth with a spouse deployed that I can lessen another spouse from having a difficult time. It’s a rush of emotions experiencing a new child whereas the spouse will never know them that small, it’s a hard burden to shoulder that- but making sure you- the new mom is supported and taken care of- should be at the front of any deployment planning in these circumstances.

***Welcome to our newest teammate Lauren Cecora!!!

Lauren is a Postpartum Mentor for women who are desperately overwhelmed and over-scheduled. Through her Sanity Saving Tips, free challenges, and book, she’s here to help you regain balance in your life- while making it all effortless. Meet Lauren and Save Your Sanity at

The Case for a Merged Club

A spouses’ club is a base staple. Military wives, and more recently husbands, have been gathering together for decades for social time, support and charitable work. Spouses’ clubs started off being segregated into Enlisted Spouses and Officers’ Spouses. However in recent years many bases are starting to see these two clubs merge.

I am currently stationed at Shaw AFB. When we first arrived, the two spouse clubs were separated. However, due to dwindling numbers for the Enlisted Spouses’ Club, the Officers’ Spouses’ Club was approached with the idea to merge. I was excited to be a part of that conversation as a new board member.

We ended up agreeing to merge the two clubs into one Shaw Spouses’ Club. You would not believe the work involved in merging two clubs, but it has been so worth it! We have had an amazing year and fantastic participation from spouses of all ranks.

I would like to present the case for a merged club.

1) Increased participation overall.

As I mentioned, here at Shaw we have seen an increased number in membership after our merge. That is a bit of a give-in because you are open to a larger group of individuals. But I have heard many times from spouses in favor of the merge that they joined in part because there was just one combined club instead of two separate clubs. Spouses nowadays like to see and are more likely to join a combined club.

2) No awkward moments when you meet a new spouse

At a previous base and prior to our merge at Shaw, whenever I would meet a new spouse I was always hesitant to invite them to the spouses’ club unless I knew if they were a fellow officer’s spouse. Not being involved with the Enlisted Spouses’ Club firsthand, I couldn’t confidently recommend joining because I did not know what the group dynamic was and I did not know about their social events or charitable work. Now that we have a merged club, anytime I see someone post on Facebook that they are new or lonely, I immediately recommend joining our club. (It has become a bit of a laughable moment among my friends here.) It no longer matters what rank our spouses are. We have a place for all spouses in one combined club.

3) We can work together on one goal

Most, if not all, spouse clubs have some aspect of charitable work. That could be giving away money to local and base organizations in need or it could be a scholarship program. At Shaw, prior to the merge, both the Enlisted Spouses’ Club and the Officers’ Spouses’ Club had a scholarship program. However now that we have merged we can combine our efforts and make a larger impact in the local community and grow our scholarship program. We can work together on fundraisers like our annual Auction to raise even more money to donate! The last year before the merge, the Shaw Officers’ Spouses’ Club was able to give out $7,500 in scholarships across seven deserving military dependents and spouses. The first year after the merge we increased that amount to over $10,000! A large part of that amount came from our annual Auction; that event came together with the efforts of so many of our members. I am looking forward to this coming year to see how much more we can increase the scholarship award amount!

4) Mentorship

As with any group of mixed ages, mentorship in some capacity is bound to happen. It can be overt or subtle, but it is so beneficial. We have been talking about this lately as we transition from our 2017-18 Board to the 2018-19 Board. We have a lot of older spouses in the club, but they are nearing retirement. Having an influx of younger spouses, Junior Enlisted and Company Grade Officers, would be very beneficial. I believe that younger spouses can offer a fresh look at how spouses’ clubs function. They can bring some great ideas for new socials and fundraisers. They have the energy and maybe the extra time to volunteer in the community and on base. However, the older spouses have a lot of knowledge from years of PCSing, raising children, working and living. I believe that sharing our knowledge with each other can only make a spouses’ club, and the military experience, better!

5) As spouses, we don’t wear rank so why would it matter?

I’m sure you’ve heard stories about spouses who “wear their husband’s rank”. It sounds so old-school to me. I am extremely proud of my husband who enlisted almost eight years ago and then was accepted to Officer Training School and is now a Captain. But at no point did I feel like my husband’s rank at all affected me and who I could spend time with. Of course you may click better with people in a similar point in life (and thus of similar ranks), but I’m friends with people from all walks of life and with spouses’ of all ranks. Being in a combined club shows that rank does not matter at all! We can all attend socials together, craft together, drink wine together or do a 5k together. That’s all that matters.


Kristen Thoennes

Shaw Spouses’ Club

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Have you ever heard the saying “it’s like trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole”?

I’m the peg. The military is the hole.

Don’t get me wrong. If you met me, you wouldn’t think that right off the bat. I LOVE what the military has given us. I love my country, and I certainly love my Airman.

However, I don’t exactly fit the mold of a traditional military spouse. I’ve always struggled to fit in with the other spouses. I understand what it’s like to be the outsider, the odd man out, the minority.

There are many ways that I fit the military spouse stereotype. I got married at 21, in a courthouse, at my husband’s first duty station. I have learned to PCS with the best of them, and I have handled our 6 deployments like a champ.

But that’s where the similarities start to fade. I do not have any children, nor do I want any. Try saying that to a group of junior enlisted spouses at a baby shower at the community center on base. I have- the reactions were priceless. Some people nod and smile. Others outright demand that I will want them some day. Well, I’m now 36 and someday never happened.


I am highly educated. Now, I know lots of spouses are educated. In fact, military spouses are more educated than their civilian counterparts. However, I have a PhD. My husband is enlisted. I have yet to meet another military spouse with a PhD whose husband is enlisted. I KNOW they have to exist (someone leave me a comment!), but I have yet to meet one.

I also work. A LOT. With travel! *gasp*. That’s right, folks. I leave my husband at home to fend for himself while I go to other cities to work. He can do his own laundry. We have completely separate bank accounts. *another gasp*

Here’s the thing. I know all of the norms I am breaking are just stereotypes of a milspo misunderstood…but it’s still all good.

Not all military spouses have children, stay at home, and don’t go to school. I know that. But when 9 out of 10 spouses you meet fit that mold, you start to feel like an outsider.

I’ve met other military spouses “like me” and most of them totally shun anything to do with the military. They don’t volunteer, they don’t join the spouse’s group, and they certainly aren’t Key Spouses.

I decided, you know what? I am not going to ostracize myself further! I want to show other outsiders that they can be insiders. I joined all the clubs- spouse’s club, book club, food club, you name it, I joined it. Squadron needs Key Spouses? Sign me up! Need food for the squadron picnic? I got you!

And guess what I found out? I am not different from anyone else. I have made the most amazing military spouse friends from ALL walks of life. Stay at home moms, spouses that work, active duty spouses, and they are all wonderful! You just have to put yourself out there and accept people as they are. Just as I hoped they’d accept me.

A square peg can fit in a round hole, you just have to keep hammering it in there.

***Welcome**** To our newest Blog Teammate Georgia Jones

Settling Into a New Duty Station

Lately, I have been hearing about many spouses having a difficult time finding work and adjusting to an unfamiliar duty station. I am here to share a couple tips that I found to be most useful to me (in no particular order):

  • If possible, use resources that are available to you to get a head start to know the area that  is surrounding you.
    • At our current base, we have access to the Fleet and Family Center. This facility has an abundance of resources (and people!) to help you with your needs or wants. Sometimes, they offer FREE classes on certain topics like New Parent Support, Budgeting for Baby, Resume Writing, and New Spouse Orientation, just to name a few.
    • Use Social Media if you can! Prior to us moving, I sought out the local spouses’ Facebook group page. I found information on what to do in the surrounding areas and made new friends.
    • Ask your spouse to get you in contact with the Ombudsman (if applicable) at your spouse’s new command. He or she may also have some pertinent information for you and your family to assist in the adjustment.

  • When you get to your new duty station, if you are able, go exploring with you and your family member(s)! Make some new memories by finding some local shopping or cuisine. Talk to locals about some common questions you may have!

  • Besides wandering around looking for “Now Hiring” signs, you can look on websites for the local newspapers and set up the automatic search function on job websites. Most of the time, it is FREE!
  • Get in touch with the region liaison for USAJOB’s “Program S”. To briefly summarize: this program will allow spouses (on military orders) to be matched up with job openings based on their interests and qualifications. A resource that can help point you in the right direction would be somewhere like the Fleet and Family Center, as mentioned above.
  • Open yourself to additional interests that can lead to a broad range of job opportunities. I currently have my Associate’s degree in Web Publishing, but have not found employment that aligns with my wants and/or qualifications. Instead, I have looked to expanding into my other interests such as Real Estate, physical fitness, and photography. I can take my knowledge of Web Publishing and incorporate it into Real Estate, specialty fitness classes, and use photography as a marketing tool.

  • Volunteer! It is a way to get to know the area or lead to a path of employment! (Not to mention to pass the time while your spouse is deployed!) I volunteered with my daughter’s new school to get to know the school staff and found out that they were hiring for a position! You do not know until you try and it allows you to expand on other interests and hobbies.

There you have it! Those are a couple of tips to help you with settling into a new duty station or finding employment!


***Welcome**** To our newest Blog Teammate Tiffany Kyall!!!

Tiffany Kyall is a fellow Navy spouse trying to find the balance between military family life and building her own career. Interests include but not limited to: technology, photography, real estate, and fitness.

The Power of Spouse Clubs

I am on Facebook way too much. I justify it by saying that I am doing my job as Public Relations Chair for the Shaw Spouses’ Club, but if I am being completely honest I am just addicted. One thing I see time and time again on the base spouses’ Facebook group is that people are lonely and don’t know anyone. We have ALL been there! I have been there.


Our first base was Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH. I did not know a single person. It took forever to find a job. I did not feel like I fit in with my neighbors in base housing. I was incredibly lonely. Towards the very end of our time there, I finally joined the spouses’ club, but by that time it was too late to really build friendships.


We then PCSed to our next base, Beale AFB, and everything changed. I put myself out there very quickly after arriving. I joined a book club. I was involved with our squadron spouses. And I joined the Spouses’ Club. I met amazing people; two of which I hope will be lifetime friends (love you Ciara and Emily)!


We are currently stationed at Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC. South Carolina is home for me and when I found out we were PCSing to Shaw I was beyond excited! Before moving I contemplated whether I would be involved with the spouses’ club at all. I figured I would spend more time with family and friends while we were living close. But after only a couple weeks of living here, I attended my first spouses’ club social. I talked to several very welcoming ladies and felt good about joining.


For our 2017-18 year, I volunteered to serve as Public Relations Chair. Partly I wanted a creative outlet; I love designing fliers for events. I also love to have the inside scoop of what is going on. I have had the most incredibly fulfilling year serving as PR. I have been able to create marketing for all our events including socials, charitable giving announcements, our Scholarship Auction and everything in-between. I have learned so much about social media marketing through trial and error. And through social media we have built relationships with local businesses and increased awareness of our club within the community. A new Walmart opened in town and they approached us because they wanted to give our club a $1,000 grant! This was all because one employee talked to us at a town event where we were raising money for our scholarship program. It has been amazing to be a part of this club.


The key is that I put myself out there and am involved. It is SCARY! I am an introvert. It is very easy and natural for me to plop down on the couch and watch hours of Netflix or read a book. But I know without friends and events to attend I will become very lonely and unhappy. With social media it is easy to feel like we know people without ever leaving the house, but it is not the same. There is nothing online to replace sharing a meal with someone or volunteering alongside someone. I encourage you to become involved. I know, I know…walking into a room when you do not know a single person is super intimidating. But in the end, you will feel proud of yourself for getting out of your comfort zone and making the effort. Maybe you won’t click with anyone. Maybe it’s not a good spouse club. Maybe it costs too much money to join. Maybe you are just a Senior Airman’s wife and everyone else are officers’ wives. But do it! (At least give it a chance). And don’t just join but consider serving on the board. From the spouses’ clubs I have experienced so far there are a variety of positions with different levels of commitment. Get your feet wet by taking on a smaller role. Or ask to co-chair something with a more experienced member. If your spouses’ club needs some improvement, share your feedback with the Executive Board and help them become better.


Being a part of a club is incredibly rewarding. Not only can you network with other spouses, but because most, if not all, spouses’ clubs do charitable work of some kind you can give back to the community in a very meaningful way. In the end, joining a spouses’ club is an easy way to meet other spouses who are experiencing many of the same trials you are facing. We can all relate to issues like PCSing, childcare scarcity, trying to find a job, or dealing with TDYs and deployments. It can be incredible to build relationships in a spouses’ club and find ways to support and lean on each other. You never know what could come of it! Give it a try!


***Welcome**** To our newest Blog Teammate Kristen Thoennes!!!

For more information about her organization, please visit:

Instagram @shawspousesclub

PCSing to Paradise

As I sit here on the couch, I notice there’s still a moving sticker, barely visible on the underside of my dining room table. I’m laughing because we have lived here for two years. But that’s how it is in the military. You’re never fully settled, and just when you think you are, you get orders. The move to Hawaii was especially painful and complicated. I’m hoping this list will help you learn from my mistakes and have an easier PCS to Paradise.


  1. Do NOT wait to do the pet requirements. You will need shots, blood work, and then a waiting period that must be met before your pet can come. This took us all together, about 5 months. Also, it costs you money out of pocket. The Army will only reimburse you for the Hawaii Government fees. Not the flight costs and not for the shots or blood work.
  2. Document your possessions! This will involve detailed pictures as well as serial numbers. It’s a pain. A safe of ours got damaged and because they didn’t document the serial number on it correctly, they refused to pay.
  3. Your personal documents. Get a file folder to take all of the documents you may need. Keep all of your travel and in-processing paperwork in there. This includes professional documents you might need for a job. Your HG may take over a month.
  4. Get on lists. In Hawaii, you can live on base at any branch and they will allow you to get on the housing list before you arrive. Also, get on daycare lists if you have small children.
  5. Join the local spouse Facebook pages. They will give you the DL on stuff to do, places to live, work, etc.
  6. Prepare for a LONG flight. Traveling with kids is always a nightmare from which you can’t wake up, but this is worse. You cannot have enough kid entertainment and Benedryl (j/k).  We were on a plane for 10 hours with an 18 month old and an hour before we landed my husband literally said, “we’re not having any more kids.”
  7. Shipping a second vehicle can be stressful. We sent my husband’s Jeep from Georgia to Hawaii for $2000, which was cheaper than buying a second car here. However, there are lots of awesome “lemon lot” options on the island for cheap cars. We used a company we found on google and they had a truck pick the Jeep up at our house and take it to the boat in California. We didn’t have to do anything. It took 2 weeks to get to Oahu.
  8. Prepare yourself for a long hotel stay. You may get a house right away, but we were in the hotel for over a month and we did not pack accordingly for that. If you get a house before your HG arrives, you can get loaner furniture from housing. Fair warning, it’s basically patio furniture, but it works.


I hope this list can help my fellow spouses plan accordingly for their adventure to Hawaii! Aloha y’all!

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