Military life has its quirks. And while you’re insulated from much of the process as a spouse, you’re still going to face some unique challenges. Fortunately, you’re not the first person to go through them. We talked to three women (Lacy, Kara & Amy) about life as a Marine spouse, and got some tips for making the most out of your time in Jacksonville.
What advice would you give for spouses new to the Jacksonville area?
Lacy: One of the first things we did when we moved to a new place was look for a church. Church members are mostly going to be people who have lived in the area for a while, and will be able to help you quickly find all the useful places that it would normally take months of trial and error to find on your own.
Amy: The best thing that you can do to get comfortable with your new town/base is figure out where everything is. Find the hospital, commissary and bank. And have your Marine introduce you to as many of the wives in his unit so that you will know someone.
Do you have any tips for new Marine spouses?
Kara: There are a lot of helpful sites and resources out there. For tips or hints, try searching military spouse blogs or websites like PCSGrades.
[Kara’s blog, Ramblings of a Marine Wife is a great place to find info on living the Marine spouse life.]
Are there benefits to connecting with other military spouses in the area?
Lacy: It can be helpful to find another spouse to connect with, because there are things that civilian wives just don't understand the way other military wives do.
Kara: I highly recommend connecting with other military spouses. They understand what you are dealing with and will be the first ones to be there for you—whether it's help with the kids or a shoulder to cry on.
How can living near Camp Lejeune benefit military spouses in Jacksonville?
Lacy: Shopping at the commissary can make your grocery budget go further. Shopping at the commissary and using coupons helps even more. I preferred the [Marine Corps Air Station] New River commissary to the main one at Lejeune because the one at New River wasn't as busy. Also, if you like brand name clothing, the PX is a great place to shop. And if you live close enough, you have access to the Naval Hospital. At the Naval Hospital you never have to worry about co-pays or paying for your prescriptions. Referrals are easier, and everything is in one place.
Amy: Living near/on base can be a wonderful thing. The base has everything that a military spouse might need and also has an element of security that is quite comforting when your spouse is away.
What are some Jacksonville activities that you recommend?
Lacy: There are several beaches to choose from, but we always found the one on base to be the least crowded on any given day. There are also cabins to rent there. Our kids and I like arts and crafts, so we loved a shop in Sneads Ferry (right out the back gate) called The Turtle Factory. It's a cute little gift shop and pottery place. They frequently offer painting classes and basket weaving. There are also two aquariums to choose from—Pine Knoll to the North and Fort Fisher to the South by Wilmington. There is also the Battleship in Wilmington. And anyone up for a day trip can make it to Myrtle Beach, SC in only about 2 hours.
What is your favorite thing about being a Marine spouse?
Lacy: My favorite thing about being a Marine spouse is the Marine I married. Also, now that my husband is out of the military and I have the benefit of hindsight, I did not appreciate Tricare nearly as much as I should have.
Kara: [My favorite thing about being a Marine spouse is the] pride I have in my husband. He loves his Marines and that he serves his country. I also like the moving aspect. I've lived all over the United States and in Japan. It's an experience few get.
Amy: My very favorite thing about being a Marine wife is above all else the sense of pride that comes from supporting my husband as he served and sacrificed for our great nation.