A friend recently sent me an article from The Atlantic titled “The Dismal Career Opportunities for Military Spouses,” and it really hit home! As a military wife, I have made sacrifice after sacrifice my husband Leston’s military career. We are a patriotic family, and I am proud of my husband’s commitment to his family, career, and country. But with the inconsistent nature of military life, my career has suffered. So much so that it leaves me, and many other military families, struggling to get by on one income.
Leaving NYC For Rural Kentucky
Frequent moves are just part of the military. It’s the only way to keep the family intact, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’m a true New Yorker. The subway was my primary mode of transportation, and I didn’t know how to drive—because I didn’t need to drive!
So, you can imagine the shock of learning that we would be stationed in rural Kentucky! No subways, no Uber, and barely any taxis, buses, or streetlights. Not to mention the restaurants, stores, and my career and social life. I left my job of 4 years and moved without even a slight job prospect. This was unsettling, to say the least!
I Got Lucky
Fortunately, I landed a budget analyst job, but most military spouses are not so lucky. Most jobs on-base pay minimum wage salaries. And while they won’t say it, most off-base employers won’t offer higher-paying jobs to military spouses as they are likely to move. Since most bases are in rural areas, there aren’t many off-base jobs to choose from in the first place.
As excited as you might be to land a low-wage job in the commissary, you earn just a little more than what it costs to bay the babysitter. Imagine working 40 hours a week to profit only a couple hundred dollars per month! This is why a staggering amount of military families are surviving off one household income. Like I said, I was lucky. But even with my luck, my Rheumatoid Arthritis is so debilitating at times that it makes it impossible to drive.
Finding My Own
Reading the article, I was thinking, “Oh, snap! This is why I gotta get my business rocking!” At some point, I may not have a job within three months of PCSing (moving to a new duty station). How can we survive and maintain our QUALITY of life without a second income? As you know, it’s hard for any family to survive on one income these days. So, imagine how much more difficult it is when you can’t stay with an organization long enough to establish your career and work your way up the career ladder. Thankfully, working for someone else isn’t the only option!
Entrepreneurship, for me, is not just about women’s empowerment and emancipation. It is still a way to support my family—especially my husband, who has endured FOUR deployments and sacrifices so much for us daily. And on days when my arthritis is flaring, I can work from home.
In the digital day and age we live in, it is possible to create a mobile career. If I can do it, so can you!