Go-fasters. PCS season. PFTs and ACFTs. Boots and utes.
It’s not new TikTok terminology to learn. These are basic Marine terms. And when I started dating a Marine, I had no idea what they meant.
Eight years later, that Marine is now my husband. I now know that go-fasters are sneakers. Permanent change of station (PCS) season means it’s time to move again. PFTs and CFTs (and PRTs and PTs) are annual physical and combat fitness tests. And boots and utes are combat boots and utility uniforms.
I’ve also learned that when you don’t understand something, it’s hard to truly appreciate it.
May is Military Appreciation Month, and there’s even a day set aside for Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which is the Friday before Mother’s Day. The month of May also includes VE Day (May 8); Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May); and of course Memorial Day, always recognized on the last Monday of May. These are chances for us to honor and recognize those who have served and sacrificed so much for our freedom. As a military spouse, I’m frequently asked how people can show their appreciation for the military — a question I always appreciate.
Some ways are simple: support veteran-owned businesses, recognize veterans in your community, or donate to or volunteer at your local USO.
Other actions might surprise you. For example, one of the most genuine ways to be appreciative is to ask questions. Want to learn. Be curious.
Ask what training is like. Ask what it’s like to move a family every 1 or 2 years. Ask what it’s like to try to have a career as a military spouse amid those moves. When you ask these questions, you’re working to have a greater understanding — and, ultimately, deeper appreciation — of what serving in the military entails for service members and their families.
For companies in particular, there’s another way to show appreciation that might also surprise you: offering work from home (WFH), remote, and hybrid work options, so that military spouses, who are unable to stay in one place for a long period of time, have the opportunity to develop and maintain a career.
The National Military Spouse Network found in its 2021 white paper that nearly a quarter of military spouses were unemployed and actively looking for a job. That didn’t count those who were not looking because they were discouraged about the prospects — almost half of those military spouses who are unemployed said their spouse’s job demands were a barrier to employment, and many expressed concerns about the cost of childcare. More than a third of those who did have a job were overqualified for it.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work and WFH are becoming the way of the future. But pre-COVID, when that wasn’t the case, trying to have and maintain a career as a military spouse was challenging. Imagine moving every 1 to 3 years and reapplying to jobs with each move…and having to tell them you’ll be moving again in 1 to 3 years.
Now, more remote options are offering more ways to change that, and also allow companies to tap into a currently underutilized workforce of military spouses. Some of the smartest, most interesting people I’ve met are military spouses, and they certainly have the life experience needed to succeed in any career. Most of them would love the chance to have a career, but the option just didn’t easily exist prior to the pandemic. Now, it’s beginning to.
Studies show that WFH employees tend to be happier and more productive. Offering these work options also means broadening the diversity of experience and perspective within employees, too. The waterfall effect of that — learning about others’ experiences and different lifestyles and then having more appreciation for what those different lifestyles might be — is tangible.
NJI has transitioned to a permanent hybrid working environment. We see the promise in recognizing talent rather than hiring based on location. During the pandemic, NJI proved this model can grow successfully while still offering our signature punch and wit, no matter our team’s geography.
We know that diversity in perspective and life experience is what matters. And while we also know being in-person still matters, we understand that fostering culture and camaraderie across virtual and physical boundaries is crucial, too. For military spouses especially, it means the world to find that type of supportive culture and stable camaraderie amid a life of constant change and moves.
So as May comes to an end, and you’re looking for ways to show your military appreciation, think remotely. Flexible work options allow military spouses like me to continue to have a career they love. Consider how you can open your literal and metaphorical professional doors to military spouses across the country. Trust me when I say we appreciate it.