Military Wife

7 Myths About Military Life Debunked

When I first began my military life journey, I was working as a cardiac nurse down in coastal North Carolina. It was winter time and many families were busy coordinating ski vacations and holiday plans with loves ones across the miles. Despite working in a community surrounded with military bases, I realized not everyone seems to have a good grasp on the ins and outs of military life.

I remember going to work one day and standing at the nurses’ station ready to receive report from the outgoing nurse. She struck up a casual conversation.

Her: “How are things going? Are you ready for the holidays?”

Me: “Well mostly. The tree is there. Ha.”

Her: “When does your husband get back?”

Me: “He’s deployed. He won’t be home for Christmas.”

Her: “I thought the war was over?”

So true. Did you ever hear these myths about military life?

What in the world?! That’s just one of many crazy things people have said to me over the years. Let’s take a moment to debunk a few myths about military life:

1. Service members get to come home for the birth of their kids.

Unless there is a serious medical issue happening, service members stay deployed regardless if a baby arrives or not. For branches with 13 month deployments, there is often a 2 week break mid-deployment. There is a chance the service member could attempt to time this around a birth, but there is no guarantee.

For a deployment without a scheduled break, you can forget about that one.

2. Spouses are unfaithful.

This is a stereotype about military spouses that really bothers me. There are far more happily married military couples than most realize. Just because a few bad spouses ran around cheating, doesn’t mean all spouses are inclined to follow in their footsteps.

Believe me, military life is complicated and interesting enough on its own. I have zero time or energy to be thinking about affairs.

3. Housing is free.

Not exactly. You get a military housing allowance to put towards an off-base home. Sometimes this covers your housing and sometimes it doesn’t. If you live on-base, they take the housing allowance back.

4. Spouses don’t work.

Getting a job is tough for military spouses. Keeping one is even harder. Moving around every few years put a significant damper on your resume. Military spouses are often labeled as over-qualified, under-qualified or short term employees.

Despite the fact that many spouses do not work, the majority of them want to work.

5. Homecomings are like the movies.

I guess it depends what kind of movies you watch. But if you’ve seen a romantic reunion that’s nothing but smooth sailing on the big screen, then you’ve witnessed an untrue story. Life is messy. Homecomings are filled with adjustments and all sorts of different emotions. Don’t get me wrong, homecoming is a good thing, but it’s not always rainbows and sunshine.

6. Families get “used” to deployment.

You never really get used to being separated from your service member. Deployment is hard. It doesn’t feel like it gets easier each time. I still miss my husband just as much as I did before. Sometimes even more!

One thing you do learn is how to cope more effectively. You learn strategies and tools to help you get through it a little bit better each time. But ‘used’ to it? No, not really.

7. The war is over and everyone is home.

First of all, we’ve been at war for over 15 years. No, it’s not over. Yes, it’s still going on. Second, even if “the war was over” service members still deploy all over the world to support and help other countries. Think humanitarian missions, training missions, and beyond.

The nurse’s station.

As I sat there at the nurse’s station, shaking my head, I politely informed my co-worker that my service member would not be home for Christmas. Wars and conflicts don’t pause for 2 weeks around the world so we can celebrate a holiday and enjoy a time of peace.

It would be lovely if it were true. Unfortunately, it is not.

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  1. One I have had to correct a lot lately (probably because I’m a “pregnant lady about to pop” LOL)… Service Members get paid more, the more children they have… nope. Welfare is the only thing that works like that (LOL). Service members are paid the same whether they have just a spouse or 10 kids 🙂

    Great post Lauren… several of these myths drive me CrAzY… like #2, #3, and #4… oh and the myth that many of us military families struggle financially. According to all of the reading I’ve done… statistically there are actually fewer military families who live paycheck to paycheck when compared to civilian families… and there are quite a few military families who do quite well financially. 🙂

  2. I’m always a huge fan of myth posts and constantly share them! Thankfully I haven’t come across too many people that say some serious ridiculous stuff.Thanks for sharing, great post!

  3. I love this. I’ve had plenty of people tell me how it must be nice that “the military give us everything for free”. I was so shocked. I’m not sure where on earth they got that from but they literally thought everything on a military base was free for us. Housing, groceries, gas, etc. etc. etc. It was so strange to me.

  4. Great post! I think at some point even military spouses have thought these things or asked related questions before they were military spouses. It’s sometimes hard to know what to expect or how the lifestyle works until you’re in the thick of it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great post! I hear these statements a lot, but mostly from friends and/or acquaintances that know very little about military life. There are so many assumptions and as a spouse sometimes we need the reminder that these aren’t true! So much of military life is touch and go with lessons that you learn or things you’ll totally do during the next PCS. Thanks for this 🙂

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