Often, those of us living a military life choose to live married unaccompanied. This means that rather than moving every two-three years or more, from married quarter to married quarter, we choose to buy our own homes (or rent) and stay in an area that affords our families some stability. The downside of this is that, in most instances, the serving person travels to and from their base to home each weekend or in many families, much less frequently than this.
In my own experience, I've always found married unaccompanied much harder than a lengthy tour of duty. It's unsettling and we all, my husband and the children included, struggle to find our groove with it. Not knowing if the day-to-day job would allow him home at the weekend. Or functioning as a family of three in the week and then having to adjust at the weekend to a family of four with new boundaries and a new dynamic at the weekend. Also, trying to make the most of the time that you're back together because it would go so fast. I also found it odd, not quite feeling like we belonged to the military community in which he was working but facing the same challenges that this life throws at us but all with little to no support.
You see, with this quest for stability families sacrifice some of the connection to the military and welfare support thats available. For many, living 'off patch' means you are forgotten about and overlooked. Welfare workers don't know who you are because you're not making trips in to coffee mornings or families activities. Its also super hard to access any welfare support you might need as its usually miles away from where you live. It's a really short-sighted way of operating and means that hundreds of families are being unsupported.
We've had this story shared with us recently and have permission to share it with you. It really does highlight how let down you can feel when you are living married unaccompanied and need some support.
When my youngest was 3 months old my hubby was drafted to Portsmouth for 9 months (only for a course) but over that period my youngest became quite ill. I spent most of my days fighting for referrals whilst holding down a full time job and looking after my oldest (who was only a year old).
I spoke with my hubbys parent base welfare for support as I was really struggling to cope and they advised me to contact Portsmouth welfare. When I spoke with them they advised me that because he wasn’t permanently drafted there they could not support us. We have our own house so I have none of the benefits of living on the married patch, be it support or events and all I had for support was my mum who was away a lot at the time.
I felt so alone and let down it was unbelievable, it sincerely almost cost us our marriage the hell we went through. Do you know what the position my hubby was is in is called? He was in the grey man position. It’s well know throughout the military and still no one does anything about it!
So sad to think that this family in a time of crisis were let down not by one, but two welfare departments who felt that they could not help them. Pushed from pillar to post and not really anyones responsibility. Crazy bureaucracy at its best! We will continue to do all we can to raise awareness of these issues and campaign for it to change. We know too, thankfully, that this family are OK now.
If you have a story to share, good or bad, please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org as we'd love to share it for you.