Essential knowledge for the military spouse

My post about the woman who did not know what a pair of pliers was got me to thinking. The first thing I thought of was that this woman's husband had

a.) never been deployed, gone TDY (temporary duty), or otherwise left the house


b.) the deployment gods must really like her and therefore, nothing breaks in her house while he husband is gone.

It's not like that in my house. In MY house, the car, the computer, and the garbage disposal are all in on a conspiracy together. The moment that McGyver is gone for more than 24 hours, at LEAST one of them breaks. AT LEAST ONE. Last time McGyver was gone, not only did the computer crash and the garbage disposal back up on me, I was 36+ weeks pregnant with Little Man and started having nasty Braxton-Hicks contractions. Such is life. At least the car didn't give out on me. Then again, I refused to go NEAR it until he got back. Not that I'm superstitious or anything.

Anyway, most spouses I know whose husbands have been gone for any length of time have encountered the deployment gremlins. My friend in Germany had a sewer pipe explode and pretty much take out her apartment while her husband was deployed. My friend in Kansas had horrible bouts of "sick kid" (times two) for months on end, not to mention a host of house issues. My friend in Alabama had a bunch of house issues and "sick kid" issues as well. Those deployment gremlins are the WORST!

I have yet to go through a deployment but I have been through my share of TDYs and have learned a few things. This list is completely incomplete (there's an oxymoron for you) so feel free to add your thoughts!


1. how to use basic tools - Reader's Digest published a list of 12 essential tools that every FAMILY toolbox should have in it :
- 12 volt cordless drill
- 16 ounce hammer
- angle square
- multihead screwdriver (Phillips and flat head screwdriver - a variety of sizes is a good idea as well)
- pry bar
- utility knife (if for no other reason than to cut open boxes after a move)
- tape measure - 25 foot is a good length
- adjustable wrench - a 10 inch model is a good size
- chalk line - not sure I would ever use this but it might help in hanging multiple pictures or laying out hopscotch
- non-contact voltage tester - again, not sure I would use it but McGyver has one and does use it
- circular saw - we have one, I know how to use it but I have yet to have the occasion to do so
- level - 24 inch is a good size

Now, some of those items may never be used by anyone in the family, let alone someone who doesn't know what pliers are. I'd add pliers to the list as well as a laser level, some plumbers' tape and a pipe wrench, an allen wrench for the garbage disposal, and a phone book with the names and numbers of trusted mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc.

2. know where the circuit box is and how to reset the breaker if you blow one

3. know how to change a flat tire and your oil. If your spouse is gone for a year, you're going to have to get the oil changed at LEAST 3 times (more if you're anal like me about car maintenance) while he's gone. If you're not willing (or able...some people live where they can't do things like this) to change your own oil, make sure you know a reputable place to take the car for maintenance and repairs while he's gone.

4. know how to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

5. know how to balance a checkbook and pay the bills (this is a hard one for me to fathom - I've been paying our bills and managing the checkbook since McGyver went off to Basic in '98). Amazingly, as Teresa at Technicalities informs us, this is not something that all military spouses (or civilian spouses) know how to do.

6. Know how to navigate Tricare. And when you figure that one out, write a book.

7. Know where ACS (Army Community Service), AER (Army Emergency Relief), your spouse's Rear D (rear detachment), the FRG (family readiness group), the MP station, and the hospital are located and how to reach them. Sorry for the language but shit happens and it usually happens at the WORST possible time.

8. And if you leave to go home (or wherever) for an extended period of time while your spouse is deployed, make sure Read D and the FRG know how to reach you - just in case. See above.

I'm sure there is more - those of you who have weathered a deployment (or several) can add to this if you feel inclined. I know I would appreciate the knowledge. I'm pretty self-sufficient but there's always room to learn more.

- hfs


Dianna said...

Adding 100mph tape to that list wouldnt be a bad idea- that stuff fixes everything!

Homefront Six said...

I can't believe I forgot that!!! McGyver uses that stuff for EVERYTHING!

OK - we'll add 100 mph tape to the list...and no lousy duct tape for us military spouses - that stuff is worthless!

Rhianna said...

I'd add a few things here and there that I've run across in 4 TDYs (several months each) plus a stint in Korea.

1. JB Weld (that stuff ROCKS!) We can't get 100MPH tape over here, AAFES doesn't carry it...

2. Online account statements and bill paying abilities. This is a definate plus to have, if only to avoid the PO with little kids!

3. Know how your loans work (ie our truck has the special 'death' clause that if God forbid happens, it pays off immedietly with no further money from us), and keep the information in a safe place. Fire-proof safes are wastes of time, imo. We keep it all in a manilla envelope, in a specific drawer.

4. You will NEED copies of his/her orders. If only to deal with housing, Tricare (NO ONE has figured out Tricare, and I doubt they ever will), his shop, etc.

5. Use the AAFES gas/car care center for all it's worth. You should be able to get free oil change (one at least, maybe more) if spouse is deployed for more than 90 days. (That's how it works in Europe anyways.)

6. Don't be afraid to call on, or cry/whine/complaign/b*tch to other spouses that have been through it. We may have the info you need, or know how to get it.

I'm sure there's more. It all happens when they're deployed/TDY so you can never list everything.

Homefront Six said...

McGyver said that you can get 100 mph tape at clothing and sales...

LorelieLong said...

Rhianna: Tell me more about this oil change thing. There's been zero mention about it here, but then I'm not surprised. Aafes car care might go out of business if all the wives knew about that. :) Are you sure it's not an Air Force thing though?

Tink said...

A copy of his social security card and a copy of his drivers license.

I needed both when purchasing a new vehicle just a coupls of weeks ago.

Also, if you have a full time student in the house who is over the age of 18, a copy of their schedule and a copy of their student ID..as full time students still living at home are still eligible for Tricare.

I have a pendaflex file with all that crud (orders, poa, birth and marriage certifs, sgli and other insurance p9olicies, copies of id's dl's ..etc etc)in it that I carry to anything that has to deployment or tricare..

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