We are young in our military career—just two years—which means that while our actual family is young, so is our military one. You know what I mean, the family who understands the crazy, chaotic demands of your spouse’s schedule and doesn’t ask about your Christmas vacation plans in July (because you won't know your leave dates until October).
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Building your military family and creating these friendships is vastly different from the easy connections of study groups or bar crawls. It can include Family Readiness Group meetings, forced family fun days and more. While those online friends through Facebook or blog circles can be a huge support system, it is important to have a few connections you can meet for coffee, watch a movie with or commiserate with over the latest in the rumor mill about upcoming PCS announcements or sequestration drama. Of course, talking about the importance of friendships is a lot easier than just venturing out and making them.
Need some help figuring out where to go to find the all important friend-date?
1. Get out of the house! Connecting on Facebook pages or through blog rolls is fun (and perfect for those of us who are a little more introverted), but meeting people in person for a little eye contact and maybe even a friendly hug is a big mood booster.
It’s simple, but get to know your neighbors.
2. If you have kids, venture out to the playground or the community children’s museum. Say hello and be friendly! There are surely other moms there that are open to growing their friend circle. A playground date is a great way to get the kids tired and ready for a good night’s sleep and catch up on the latest happenings.
3. Join a volunteer group. Even though adding volunteer activities seems to just add to the chaos of the day-to-day, there are great ways to give back to your local or military community. Think about joining the PTO or a museum board. Churches and hospitals have plenty of outreach opportunities as well, depending on your interests. Even stepping up and working with your spouse’s unit group is another way to get together with local spouses and connect.
4. It’s simple, but get to know your neighbors. Obviously if you live on post, you’re surrounded by fellow spouses, but even off post—but especially in post communities—there are likely to be many spouses in your area. Don’t hesitate to drop off a welcome basket when you see a moving truck, or say hello when you pass someone walking through the neighborhood.
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Friends can be made over the most random connections, like lamenting the price of produce at the grocery or making small talk at the doctor’s office. Most of all, just be friendly; smile, say hello and be genuine. You don’t have to be Miss Popular, but a couple of good acquaintances can make a new community feel more like home.