Being a military spouse can be daunting all on its own from maneuvering Tricare and learning new acronyms to some days just making sure you remember your ID when you go shopping at the commissary. Moving to a new state, sometimes a new country, can provide a whole new set of challenges.
In August 2015, my husband and I moved from California to Virginia, where we would come to call Norfolk our new temporary home. I had left a well-paying job, friends, and family to move to an area I knew nothing about and knew no one. This is a common scenario with new military spouses, and I’ve learned it is something we all struggle with.
It took about six months for me to realize that I had to make things happen. I had to meet new people, make new friends, and find the people that would be my tribe while we lived in this area. I started to find ways to get to know my new city and the people who lived in it. These are some easy ways to get to know your new duty station and acclimate to the surroundings:
• Get involved. Find a way to get involved in the community. Volunteering allows you to find something you enjoy and you get to know others who share your passion for helping. I was able to make useful connections through some of my initial volunteer work.
• Be active. Not only does exercise make you feel good, but also it’s a good way to make new friends. Whether it’s a gym class or a local running group, get out and have fun. One of my first friends in Norfolk was made at a barre class.
• Know your neighbors. Getting to know people that live in your neighborhood can help you feel connected to the area. Meeting locals can give you a better feel for your new community and, in some cases, could be that one connection that helps you get a new job.
• Be in the know. Ask questions and find resources that can help you navigate this new journey. Join local Facebook groups, follow military spouse resource pages, and be curious about your new city. We’ve all been in a place where we didn’t have all the answers, but luckily there’s usually someone out there who does.
I also wanted to be a part of a military spouse group, which prompted my search for local organizations. During my search for local groups, I came across a variety of organizations that support spouses in positive and meaningful ways.
Here are some of the organizations that can be found in the Hampton Roads area and have designated meet-ups that focus around their specific mission. Meet-up information can be found on their local chapter’s Facebook group or website.
• InDependent - A health and wellness project, InDependent’s mission is to create a thriving community of military spouses that support preventative wellness by inspiring each other to make health and fitness a priority. in-dependent.org
• In Gear Career - In Gear Career promotes and advances the employment, career development, and networking opportunities for military spouses across all professional occupations by enabling the exchange of accurate, timely, and topical information through local and online community-building efforts and advocacy programs. ingearcareer.org
• The Milspo Project - The Milspo Project’s mission is to empower and educate milspouse entrepreneurs through leadership events, online educational resources, and local chapter meet-ups. milspoproject.org
• COMPASS - COMPASS is a spouse-to-spouse mentoring program that introduces participants to all aspects of the military lifestyle. They offer military spouses the opportunity to establish a peer network, acquire knowledge, and develop skills necessary to successfully meet future challenges of military life. www.gocompass.org
All in all, acclimating to a new area takes time. One thing I’ve learned is to not put pressure on myself to make everything perfect and think that it will all be the same as it was before. Do what you can to make yourself feel comfortable and find the time to enjoy this new adventure that has become a part of your life.
Kristine Geraghty currently works as a high school English teacher for a local private school and volunteers for InDependent as their Hampton Roads community ambassador. She has a passion for health/wellness, enjoys yoga, and hiking with her husband and their miniature dachshund.