Trying to make friends at a new duty station can be difficult, to say the very least. It can feel like going on a series of failed blind dates before you find your person. Only to find out they are PCSing in just a short couple months. It never fails.
I got lucky when I found my person. We ended up at two of the same duty stations back to back.
I remember the first time I met Amy as if it were yesterday. We were both new to Fort Polk, Louisiana and began interacting via social media. We shared phone numbers with the promise to “hang out one day.”
Then one day came.
It may not have been the friend date either of us had pictured. Not knowing anyone else in the area and needing a hand, I asked her to follow me up to the local auto body shop, so they could look at the brakes on my truck, and give me a ride back home. We barely made it out of the main gate when she was calling to let me know my wheel was riding on the rim and sparks were coming out the back end of the truck. She sat on the side of the road with me for what felt like an eternity.
While we waited for help to arrive, we shared a pack of cigarettes, a few stories of our adolescence, and a dozen laughs. The rest is history.
Over the years, her family became a part of my own. We’ve stood by each other through divorce, marriage, expanding families, grieving losses, home ownership, deployments, homecomings, military separation, a couple moves, and countless tribulations.
It’s definitely no picnic being in a new town for the first time, especially if your spouse is called away from the start. It can be quite the daunting experience and sometimes it can take a while to find those friends you connect with. But it can also be so rewarding.
There are many benefits to finding your person at a new duty station:
They understand what military separation feels like.
No matter if they’re enlisted or officer, behind a desk or on the frontline, every military couple has dealt with separation at some point or another. We get that there are hard times with this life. So when you need someone who understands what it’s like to be all in your feelings for a moment, your first mil-spouse friend is there.
With frozen waffles for dinner and a side of red wine.
Military friendships aren’t temporary.
“See you later” is the norm with military families. But that doesn’t necessarily mean goodbye forever. With all the “easy stalkability” of social media today, it’s not as difficult to stay in touch. Even if life gets the best of you and you lose touch for a few months, there’s no judgement. Even after military life, you’ll find that you have friends all over the country (or the world) and it’s so nice to be able to reconnect after all that time.
They help you fill an otherwise empty schedule.
Being at a new duty station can be incredibly nerve-wracking but also so exciting. Finding your first milspo friend gives you the opportunity to go on new adventures that may be outside of your comfort zone.
Go check out that mystery murder dinner or hike up that trail that seems ever-so-daunting. These are the memories that will last a lifetime. Make the best of it.
Nearly a decade after I first met Amy, we still never go more than a few weeks without texting one another just to share a quick funny story or ask what color would look better in our kitchens. I still think back on our first deployment together and all the girls’ nights we had with a couple bottles of wine and endless laughter.
It just goes to show that your first military spouse friendship is certainly an unforgettable one.