Friday, February 4, 2011

Should we stay or should we go?

If you are the spouse of someone in the military, you've probably had thoughts similar to the ones I'm going to talk about in this post. Should we continue to be a military family or should we leave this lifestyle the next chance we get so that we can settle down somewhere.

A little background on my husband and my childhoods:

When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad was stationed in Korea with the Army. He came home for the birth, then had to go back. When he got back, we moved to Fort Hood, TX and lived there for two years. My dad got medically discharged and we moved back to my hometown. We lived there until halfway through my 9th grade year, then moved to Ft Jackson, SC because my dad had gotten back into the Army. We lived there for two years and moved back to my hometown, when my dad deployed.

So, for 14 of the 18 years that I was at home with my parents, I lived in one town. My mom and dad both grew up in that town. I got to graduate from the high school my parents went to. My grandpa still lives in the house that my mom and her eight siblings grew up in. That's what my normal is, and that's what I've always wanted for my family, but obviously this dream is not compatible with the military lifestyle.

My husband has been a military brat for almost all of his life. His dad was in the navy, his parents divorced when he was a tween and his mom remarried a man who was, and still is, in the Army. My husband has always lived the military lifestyle. The longest he lived in one place was about five years. He lived in eight places, that I can think of right now, before he turned 18. He doesn't understand my need to be settled into one place, because he's never had that.

So now for the pros and cons.
If we stay in the Army:
-We may have to move as often as every 3 years, but this also means the girls may be able to see different parts of the country and maybe even other countries.
-Will never really be able to buy a house without worrying about selling it if we have to move.
-Job security, this is huge for us. I think one of the main reasons my husband wants to stay in is because it's a reliable job, the chances of getting "laid off" are pretty slim unless you mess up. And even if he were to have to discharge before retirement we'd probably have plenty of notice. It wouldn't be like a two week notice or anything like that.
-Almost guaranteed upward mobility- it's very well laid out that if you do xyz in x amount of time that you will get promoted. Even if it takes you awhile to get promoted, there are raises for time in service, every two years.
-He will be eligible for retirement when he's around 40 years old. At this point he can stay in to get a higher percentage of retirement, or he can start a new career and eventually will be able to draw two retirement salaries. The con to this is that it won't happen until the girls are almost done with high school, which means we wouldn't get to settle down until the girls are almost out of the house.

If we get out:
-The uncertainty is scary, very scary. There's really no telling what will happen.
-Lack of job stability is definitely a huge con, although there's a good chance he could get hired in a federal agency of some sort, which would ease this a little.
-Potential to make more money, but also the possibility of making less.
-Would be able to buy a house and not have to worry about selling it a year later. Which would mean I'd get to paint my walls and renovate and the girls would have a childhood home.
-Girls would be able to grow up in one town, they'd have the same friends throughout their entire lives, if they wanted to.
-We'd have more control over our own lives. We could up and move where ever and whenever we wanted to, as long as we could find work in that new place. The town we live in wouldn't be determined by the Army.


When it comes down to it, my husband will probably stay in the Army. Even if we'd be happier out of the Army, it's a hell of a lot scarier, and I don't know if we could deal with the uncertainty. We had planned to leave at his ETS date, but the talk got brought up again yesterday. I saw the midwife who had been my midwife when I was pregnant with McKaleigh. She was a Lt Colonel in the Army and just recently retired. She's now working at the birth center where I had Adelaide. So hubby and I got to talking about how she's not very old at all, has a military pension and now has another job. Once again the appeal of being able to retire at such a young age came up. So who knows what is going to happen now. If I was a gambling woman, I'd probably bet on things just staying the same.

As Dave Ramsey has said "Change is painful. Few people have the courage to seek out change. Most people won't change until the pain of where they are exceeds the pain of change." Right now, I guess this just doesn't hurt enough. But I'm scared that I'll always regret that my girls didn't have a hometown.

1 comment:

MrsJennyB said...

what great points you brought up tara... i think about this a lot, because i think of how being an army brat has affected me in my adulthood... while it was happening, i hated moving around and not being able to keep friendships, etc.. but as an adult, I'm very thankful to have had the experiences I did. I mean I got to see other countries and other states and when it comes down to it, I'm closer to my parents and my siblings because they were what I knew was stable growing up... There are definitely pros & cons to both, but you are a great mother and I'm sure your husband is a great father, and in the end, that is what is going to benefit your girls the most.