In a military family, raising children, especially when relocating, can be challenging. It can disrupt the children’s academics, social networks, health care, and sports activities. Today’s military spouses who tend to be under 35 and largely female are often in an unfamiliar location without a support network.
Being informed and utilizing the available resources, whether it be the first or fifth move, can help reduce stress to the family. A smooth transition can also help children be more resilient and enjoy new experiences.
Across all branches, military bases have provided many resources to help military mothers and families and make the transition a bit easier.
- For expecting and new mothers, bases provide medical services and supplies, to help the mother through every step.
- For mothers with younger children, most bases will also provide preschool and day care, as well as sports teams for them to get involved with when they are a bit older. They also include youth groups to help children meet others on the bases. They are generally not freely provided, but they are at low cost and on a sliding scale based on rank. There are times where child care is free under certain circumstances.
For all military spouses, having a support group on base is very important. A few ways to help build a support group on base is finding Facebook groups or events dedicated to military spouses on your base. All military branches have a family readiness program of some sort. They tend to help inbound families, especially the younger ones.
Families with children with special needs should enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program to help with relocation and any special medical needs.
Since bases are typically consistent with what resources they have, it often helps to become involved in your base which will make the next one seem more familiar, allowing a smoother transition for the family. Many bases also have thrift stores, some of which are free, if you fill out their form for income-based help. In addition, for those mothers on active duty in the Air Force, check out this volunteer-authored pregnancy and postpartum guide.
Military OneSource provides resources and support to active-duty, National Guard and Reserve service members and their families anywhere in the world. The program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to users. You can also call them at 800-342-9647. International calling instructions are available at the website.
While all branches have similar resources, the commodities and services will differ. For the most up to date information, check the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force websites, as well as the Department of Defense website.
By Katharine Burgess and Meghan McGoldrick