New to the Army. Need a bit of advice. — The Bump
Military Families

New to the Army. Need a bit of advice.

Maybe its because I'm pregnant ,but I am feeling a lot of really confusion by this whole Army life. How things work and get done. My husband just graduated from Basic Training and is now in his first week of AIT for Satellite Communication. We are hoping to get me out to him in at least 5 weeks.

I think I would like to hear some advice about your experience in the beginning. Things you wish you would have known. Or things you would have done differently. Also the good things in the Army I would like to hear those things too. And Doctors are they as good as I was told?

Is this normal to feel overwhelmed with all of this? I can guess it is to a degree but everything confuses me. I feel like Im walking through the dark. I have read things, but still feeling lost. 

Re: New to the Army. Need a bit of advice.

  • Hi and welcome!

    First of all, it is DEFINITELY normal to feel overwhelmed with all of this, especially since you are both so new to the military lifestyle.   It will feel a lot better once he's out of training and gets settled.  Then you'll have post resources that are really helpful for families, and will hopefully meet other spouses and form a social network.   In the Air Force we have the Airman & Family Readiness Center that offers a lot of resources for...well...airmen and their families :-)  I know the Army has something similar, but don't know what it's called, so I'm hoping someone can chime in and help.  

    Until then, I highly recommend the website MilitaryOneSource.mil.  There are a lot of great resources, articles, topics, etc.   

    As for your specific questions...

    1.  Doctors:  Some are good, some aren't so good.   In the civilian world, doctors will go to med school, then do a one-year internship and a two-four year residency in their specialty.  In the military, some doctors have only done the internship and not the residency, and are not "board certified" yet.  These are mostly your family practice doctors.  It doesn't mean they're bad doctors, but some do lack experience.   Any specialty doctor (optometry, ob/gyn, etc) will be board certified in their specialty.  Having said that, access to free health care is amazing.  Sometimes Tricare (the "insurance company") can be difficult to deal with, but in general the coverage is AMAZING, and, well, it's free.  You can't beat that.

    2. Things I wish I had known in the beginning.  I'm active duty, and I remember that for the first six months or so my paycheck kept getting screwed up, and it took a long time for it to get fixed.  The only reason it did is because I knew what I was entitled to, recognized when it wasn't getting it, and was persistent in getting it fixed.  These problems DO NOT FIX THEMSELVES.  The member has to be proactive.   So make sure he looks over each pay statement carefully, explains everything to you, and that you both agree that he's getting what he is supposed to. If not, MAKE THEM FIX IT.   Even so, it might take some time for it to be fixed.  If at any time you get overpaid, then DO NOT SPEND THAT MONEY BECAUSE THEY WILL TAKE IT BACK, sometimes with no notice.    They always seem to realize they've made a mistake when it results in you getting overpaid, and that always gets fixed super-quick, but when you're underpaid they never notice and it takes forever....so yeah.

    3.  Good things?   Well, again, Air Force vs. Army, so there are some differences. But in general I really love serving my country, I love moving often, have lived in some really neat (and some not-so-neat) places, I've been given a tremendous amount of responsibility compared to my non-military peers...there's pretty decent job security, the benefits are good, an I work with some truly amazing people and have made life-long friends :-)  I don't regret a second of it!!!!
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  • My biggest piece of general advice is stay out of the drama.  If you meet people from his unit who want to act like they're in high school, gossip, form cliques, etc. then stay away from them.  Also, don't try to keep up with the Joneses.  Everyone knows what you make so renting furniture and buying an expensive car will not impress anyone.  Other than that, minimize separations as much as possible and always have money in savings for when your pay gets messed up (as prior post advised).

    As for doctors, go with your gut.  If you don't think you're getting good care then change providers.  You can be seen off post.  You can switch to standard (although it might be more expensive.)  Medical care really varies from post to post so it's hard to say what it will be like once you get to your permanent duty station.
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  • workitmom84workitmom84
    25 Love Its Second Anniversary 10 Comments Name Dropper
    member
    edited September 2013
    My husband is AirForce, but a lot of the general rules cover it all. We just PCS'd and I am pregnant. We have been together for a while, but any change is overwhelming, especially in the military. Since our move, I have had my fair share of crying and feeling alone. Things don't always go as planned. 

    Along with carnation, emphasis on: Don't get involved with drama. 
    Also...
    Represent yourself and your husband well; you never know whose wife, or child, or whatever you might come into contact with. I'm a speech therapist and have seen parents at squadron Christmas parties who work with and/or are superiors of my husband. 
    Get a job. Even if it's part time. It will keep you busy. I know you're pregnant but it might be nice to have a little extra baby cash. Plus, if you don't need benefits it might be easier to find a job.
    Good luck!!
    EDIT: As far as doctors go... I'm not sure how Army works, but they might refer you off base for an OBGYN. They should give you lists of providers. Google them, find reviews, and choose one for a referral. I did drive-by's of the top two to see what feeling I got for the office. 
  • edited September 2013
    My biggest piece of general advice is stay out of the drama.  If you meet people from his unit who want to act like they're in high school, gossip, form cliques, etc. then stay away from them.  Also, don't try to keep up with the Joneses.  Everyone knows what you make so renting furniture and buying an expensive car will not impress anyone.  Other than that, minimize separations as much as possible and always have money in savings for when your pay gets messed up (as prior post advised).

    As for doctors, go with your gut.  If you don't think you're getting good care then change providers.  You can be seen off post.  You can switch to standard (although it might be more expensive.)  Medical care really varies from post to post so it's hard to say what it will be like once you get to your permanent duty station.
    When you are on Standard everything is covered 100% for things deemed medically necessary for your entire pregnancy, with the exception of a small daily fee while you are in the hospital after delivery (I think it is like $16/day).  There is no co-pay or deductible for Standard for pregnancy related appointments.  I switched to Standard because I was not happy with some of the on-post hospital policies at our base (nothing to do with the doctors, in fact I heard great things about the OBGYNs on post where we are) and paid nothing out of pocket the entire pregnancy except that nightly fee.  I had 3 u/s, an epi, an unplanned c-section and still only paid less than $50 total for the 3 nights I was in recovery.  Now if you stay on Standard or have appointments not related to your pregnancy you do have to meet a deductible.  So OP, if you end up not liking the doctors or the hospital where you are stationed you do have other options. 

    I really enjoy the Army lifestyle so far, we have a great community here and my H's troop is pretty drama free so that is nice.  My advice is don't get upset if things do not go according to your plan.  If you are a go with the flow type of person you will do much better.  We PCSd when I was 5 months pregnant, found out my H's new brigade was deploying soon, he left when our DD was 7 weeks, and just a few weeks after he got back we found out his brigade is moving to another base so there is a chance that after a short time here we will have to PCS again.  It is what it is.

    And yes, it is very normal to feel overwhelmed in the beginning, when my H commissioned and then left for BOLC (an Officers version of basic and AIT) I remember feeling so lost because we were not getting a lot of information and then when we would it would change.  This brings me back to the go with the flow thing...
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  • Avion22 said:
    Hi and welcome!

    First of all, it is DEFINITELY normal to feel overwhelmed with all of this, especially since you are both so new to the military lifestyle.   It will feel a lot better once he's out of training and gets settled.  Then you'll have post resources that are really helpful for families, and will hopefully meet other spouses and form a social network.   In the Air Force we have the Airman & Family Readiness Center that offers a lot of resources for...well...airmen and their families :-)  I know the Army has something similar, but don't know what it's called, so I'm hoping someone can chime in and help.  

    Until then, I highly recommend the website MilitaryOneSource.mil.  There are a lot of great resources, articles, topics, etc.   

    As for your specific questions...

    1.  Doctors:  Some are good, some aren't so good.   In the civilian world, doctors will go to med school, then do a one-year internship and a two-four year residency in their specialty.  In the military, some doctors have only done the internship and not the residency, and are not "board certified" yet.  These are mostly your family practice doctors.  It doesn't mean they're bad doctors, but some do lack experience.   Any specialty doctor (optometry, ob/gyn, etc) will be board certified in their specialty.  Having said that, access to free health care is amazing.  Sometimes Tricare (the "insurance company") can be difficult to deal with, but in general the coverage is AMAZING, and, well, it's free.  You can't beat that.

    2. Things I wish I had known in the beginning.  I'm active duty, and I remember that for the first six months or so my paycheck kept getting screwed up, and it took a long time for it to get fixed.  The only reason it did is because I knew what I was entitled to, recognized when it wasn't getting it, and was persistent in getting it fixed.  These problems DO NOT FIX THEMSELVES.  The member has to be proactive.   So make sure he looks over each pay statement carefully, explains everything to you, and that you both agree that he's getting what he is supposed to. If not, MAKE THEM FIX IT.   Even so, it might take some time for it to be fixed.  If at any time you get overpaid, then DO NOT SPEND THAT MONEY BECAUSE THEY WILL TAKE IT BACK, sometimes with no notice.    They always seem to realize they've made a mistake when it results in you getting overpaid, and that always gets fixed super-quick, but when you're underpaid they never notice and it takes forever....so yeah.

    3.  Good things?   Well, again, Air Force vs. Army, so there are some differences. But in general I really love serving my country, I love moving often, have lived in some really neat (and some not-so-neat) places, I've been given a tremendous amount of responsibility compared to my non-military peers...there's pretty decent job security, the benefits are good, an I work with some truly amazing people and have made life-long friends :-)  I don't regret a second of it!!!!
    The army does have something similar, it's called FRG ( family readiness group) and they are really helpful and provides opportunity to meet other families.

    One of the things I wish I knew- I am/was big on planning. In the military things can change day to day or month to month. You may get orders 2 months out to go one place and three weeks before you leave it can be somewhere else. You may cook dinner and expect your DH home around six and he calls to say he has night duty and he will see you in the morning. We have been in for a while now so I have adjusted but the first year was challenging. 

    Healthcare- We have always lived off base and far enough from the base that we have been able to see civilian providers so I am not really sure about on base care.
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  • A word on the "drama." You'll be warned about it a lot. Don't let fear of the "drama" that may or may not exist stop you from participating with your H's squadron (that's what it's called in the AF, so whatever the equivalent is). I've seen several wives/GFs/FIs/SOs get scared off because there's such a reputation for drama (and it's a reputation perpetuated by a lot of both SMs and SOs) and then they feel really alone and then they get involved and realize that they wish they had been.

     

     For example, there's a wife of one of the guys in H's squad who we never really saw until the Key Spouse really reached out when the wife's H was deploying. The guy is pretty tightly wound (left a diagram of how his grass should be mowed while he was away) and he's always warned his wife that milspouses were catty bitches. Well, when she finally started hanging around, she realized that we're really supportive and a lot of fun. My H's (insane) mother has a huge chip on her shoulder about "officer's wives." My husband earned his rank, it's not mine.

     

    I recognize that drama does exist, I just hate that the first thing people who ask about military SO life are told is a warning about drama. My advice is that people are people, and you're going to gravitate towards people who share interests, same as in everyday life. If you do happen to be around a lot of it, surround yourself with friends.

     

    It's so normal to feel overwhelmed. I started dating my H while he was still in college finishing ROTC, but both his parents are prior enlisted, as well as his grandfathers on both sides being career military so he kind of knew what he was getting into. I was raised by hippies and never in a million years saw myself getting married to a guy in the miliary. It's been an experience, but it's been really fantastic and we have so many opportunities.




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  • It's so normal to feel overwhelmed. I started dating my H while he was still in college finishing ROTC, but both his parents are prior enlisted, as well as his grandfathers on both sides being career military so he kind of knew what he was getting into. I was raised by hippies and never in a million years saw myself getting married to a guy in the miliary. It's been an experience, but it's been really fantastic and we have so many opportunities.

    Haha very good advice from DMB, but especially the bolded--samsies for me and honestly I was very scared of the horror stories of drama from other wives. We live 45 minutes from my DH's unit but I have never had any issues with anyone--and in fact found some great friends in them! 

    Any change is hard, but especially being pregnant and away from your husband. Hang in there, make friends, see what the experience is really like and go with the flow! 
      It's a girl!! EDD 2/28/15
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  • Thank you so much for the info ladies! Very helpful. One of the things my husband and I decided before joining the Army was to not get mad if things dont go our way or if things change. We have heard so many things that can happen, so we are going into this knowing it. So when something does happen we cant be surprised or shocked or even mad.

    I was concerned about the drama thing, I am hoping we have good luck with that as I am not very good at telling people to shut up when they gossip.

    I feel much better knowing this isnt just me being confused, and knowing that its kinda a waiting game for everyone. I love advice so thank you really!!
  • As far as doctors go I think I am going to have to do it trail and error
  • 1. As far as doctors go, it really depends on where you're stationed. Where I'm stationed, we don't have a hospital on post (only a clinic), and they don't have OBs so I'm required to go off post. My PCM is hit or miss, and I generally don't care for the nurses (a couple of bad experiences). However, I've heard great things about the pediatricians, etc. But what is good or bad in one area can be the complete opposite in another. 

    It also depends on what level of Tricare you have - Prime or Standard. I have Prime, so typically I'm required to stay on post to get my medical care if it's available here and I have not yet had any out of pocket costs. With Standard, you can pretty much go where you want (as long as they take Tricare), but some out of pocket costs might apply (even though, from what I hear, they still are very, very low). 


    2. Get involved with the FRG or some kind of mommy group. Some FRGs have better reputations than others (in terms of the amount of drama). Most posts have facebook groups that are meant to bring spouses together to connect. I've had to go through a few of them before I found one that I really liked. I'm not very active with the FRG here, but there are groups of ladies that cook together, do crafts together, work out together, etc. 

    3. The most important thing (which you brought up) is to NOT get too wrapped up in one plan. It's the Army, and things WILL change. A lot. No lie. We had to plan our wedding around the Army, DH missed the anatomy scan because of some training, and generally hasn't gotten to be part of the pregnancy through no fault of his own. Very rarely do things go as planned. The Army has definitely taught me to be patient and flexible.

    Good luck!
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  • When you get to your first duty station, find the Army Community Services (ACS) building and sign up for Army Family Team Building (AFTB), the classes teach you about basic army stuff but also gives you a chance to learn more about your post and the resources around you, some people even make friends in the class. I wish I had know about it when my husband went through early training.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions and some times first impressions aren't always true and sometimes they are.

    I thought I would hate army life, but I have met some amazing people, learned a lot about myself and love what it as brought me.
  • I think they've already pretty well hit on everything. Lol!! Welcome to the Army life!!! I hope it treats you well.

    I will just add that I totally agree on the topic of drama and representing your hubby (and yourself) well. That right there will make your life much easier.

    Also, be careful about switching plans with Tricare. I'm not saying its a bad choice but from what I'm told, you may be stuck with standard for a year once you switch. I can't remember if I were told its based on rank or not. Just wanted you to be aware if by chance thus comes into play later. We just had a baby on prime and we had no costs at all and excellent service but we are tricare prime remote right now so we are seeing civilian doctors. We don't have an MTF on post.

    Lastly, start learning the acronyms and rank. You'll impress your hubby! :-)

    Best of luck!!!
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  • dwnslde said:
    When you get to your first duty station, find the Army Community Services (ACS) building and sign up for Army Family Team Building (AFTB), the classes teach you about basic army stuff but also gives you a chance to learn more about your post and the resources around you, some people even make friends in the class. I wish I had know about it when my husband went through early training. Don't be afraid to ask questions and some times first impressions aren't always true and sometimes they are. I thought I would hate army life, but I have met some amazing people, learned a lot about myself and love what it as brought me.
    This times a 100.  AFTB classes will teach you so much.  You will learn the acronyms that the Army loves to use, how to read a LES (leave and earning statement) and important policies and protocols.  
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  • ArmyWife114ArmyWife114
    500 Comments 100 Love Its Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    edited November 2013
    emilyd516 said:
    EDIT: As far as doctors go... I'm not sure how Army works, but they might refer you off base for an OBGYN. They should give you lists of providers. Google them, find reviews, and choose one for a referral. I did drive-by's of the top two to see what feeling I got for the office. 
    This bolded part is entirely dependent on the number of open slots they have at the OBGYN department at the post hospital.  And, they are getting extremely strict about referring prime patients off post if they can handle you.  So, in my opinion, if you want to go to an off post doc, just switch to Standard.  
    Also, be careful about switching plans with Tricare. I'm not saying its a bad choice but from what I'm told, you may be stuck with standard for a year once you switch. I can't remember if I were told its based on rank or not. Just wanted you to be aware if by chance thus comes into play later. We just had a baby on prime and we had no costs at all and excellent service but we are tricare prime remote right now so we are seeing civilian doctors. We don't have an MTF on post. Lastly, start learning the acronyms and rank. You'll impress your hubby! :-) Best of luck!!!
    In terms of Prime v Standard and switching back and forth, from my understanding at least, if the servicemember is an E5 and above you're locked out of Prime for a year (unless you switch right at the start of the fiscal year - Oct 1 - then they'll let you back). 
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  • @armywife114 - thank you! I was thinking it was something like that but couldn't say for sure what rank it was.
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  • When we got to our first duty station, JBLM I felt like I missed the army wife handbook somewhere. All the other wives seemed to know all the abbreviations and were super involved. I loved my doctor there with baby #1. Just found out I'm pregnant again and have not heard great things about doctors here. Just depends on your standards and your location. But as far as being overwhelmed don't worry. I googled a lot of questions and asked my husband a lot of stuff. Took a few months but you'll get the hang of it. Don't feel like you're missing out much. It's really not that exciting.
  • The biggest thing I wish I'd known was how often, and how quickly, things changed and that I'd have to learn to roll with it.  Our first station was changed from Bliss to Germany a week before graduation, we had a month and half's notice for his first deployment, things like that.  I don't believe there is any such thing as a reliable date in the military anymore!
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