A few weeks ago, I found a post on Facebook that made me roll my eyes. I am a huge sucker for the page Dear Dependa II and they shared a post from a woman who states how annoying it is for National Guard wives to complain about how tough it is. She is under the impression that National Guard is only a one weekend a month thing and we don’t understand their husband’s working 12+ hours, deployments, etc.
I was absolutely floored when I read this, and I almost couldn’t believe how oblivious she was about the National Guard. But then I realized, there are a lot of people who don’t understand what it is and what differences National Guard has versus Active Duty. Also, I’m not saying one is better than the other but there are definitely misconceptions I hope to debunk.
So, fellow National Guard wives and I came up with this list.
National Guard does deploy. Not sure where this myth came from, but I promise they deploy and sometimes even more often than AD.
They have Civilian jobs on top of NG. That’s right, they work every day at a normal job (or like my husband who works Guard full time) on top of deployments and the weekend drills.
Difficult Adjustment Periods. Since our spouses have civilian and Army duties, it’s hard to adjust between the two. AD you are on military mode at all times, and for most NG it’s hard to adjust between their day job and then National Guard time.
On Call for Emergencies. National Guards work for the state. Because of this, they can be called at an instant for state of emergency responses, natural disaster relief, etc.
Lag of Family Support Groups. I don’t want to use the word lack, because there are family support groups out there. But, because NG don’t live on base you miss out on the closeness of an FRG and other company functions that are more popular and easily accessible with the AD side.
Distance. Unlike AD where most live on base or very close by, National Guard can be the whole state distance away from where you live. Some live 4 hours away from where they drill, and with an early drill time this can definitely take a toll on the soldier.
Benefits. Yeah, I’m definitely envious of those with Tricare! NG doesn’t get this automatically (but you can apply and pay for it) so we have to find our own means of insurance. There are great insurance companies out there though, don't be discouraged.
You are more self-reliant. You don’t have the daily routine Active Duty has. With the National Guard you are more on your own and have to be accountable for keeping up with your diet and passing your PT tests. It requires a little more responsibility because you don’t have that everyday routine.
Conflicts with Civilian World. While it is very illegal to fire a soldier for military duties (drill, deployments, training) it does happen. NG soldiers have to be extra careful and cross their fingers they have a good boss who understands, because there have been cases where soldiers lost their civilian jobs due to required military duties.
Lack of Community. You are of the military community, but not in it if that makes sense. Yes, your spouse is in the military but you don’t have that same sense of community that Active Duty has. Some spouses aren’t surrounded by other military families that understand the struggles and aren’t close enough to a base and the benefits it offers.
Now I’m not saying the National Guard is worse, or even better, than Active Duty. I’m pointing out all of the misconceptions or little known quirks of the NG life. One is not better than the other, but it is definitely not just a “one weekend a month thing”. Just please remember, whatever status a soldier is in, they are serving our country. Support all troops and hopefully I enlightened you on the differences and similarities of the Army National Guard & Active Duty.
Special thanks to Vanessa (guard wife of 3 years), Rachel (guard wife of 3 years), Kristina (guard wife of 5.5 years), Stephanie, Sarah (guard wife of 6 years), Kim, Megan (USMC wife for 12 years, guard wife of 2 years), Ashley, Erin (guard wife less than a year), Raquel (guard wife 4 years), Christine (guard wife of 16 years), Morgan, Crystal, & Alisha.