As we embark on the time-honored (and oftentimes dreaded) PCS season, I took a moment to reflect on all the “opportunities” my military spouse life gave me. In the 10+ moves we made as an Air Force family, I had the privilege of learning to wear multiple hats, many of which I am sure I would not have worn if we had lived a different life. Mostly, these hats sat on my head because of my role as a military spouse or the people we met at the various places we called home around the globe. Some I cherished, and some I’m happy I survived. One thing these hats all have in common? They’re part of what made our time in the military unique, challenging, rewarding, and life-affirming.

In no particular order, I’ve been . . .

  • A plumber
    (Full disclosure, I have an uncle who was a master plumber whom I always consulted to determine if I could handle the job myself or needed to call in a professional.)
  • A funeral-home-for-pets director
    (Yes, at one memorable duty station all the neighborhood kids came to me to properly help them eulogize and plan send-offs for everything from traditional pets to spiders they kept in a box.)
  • A personal reader and test quizzer (for all the non-confidential material in various Air Force courses my husband took)
    (There were many car rides where I would read from this or that manual while he drove.)
  • A pet boarder
  • A cultural ambassador
    (We were stationed in Japan where our children attended Japanese schools and I taught English to Japanese citizens.)
  • A house finder
    (My friends placed way too much trust in me when they were PCSing back from Germany. I mean, I even signed all their closing paperwork via power of attorney. So, they truly bought and moved to this house sight unseen.)
  • A CPR provider
    (Shout-out to every CPR instructor I’ve had since I was 12—you save lives.)
  • A locksmith
    (I failed at this and ended up calling housing since we were on post. They came out to rescue my 16-month-old who somehow locked himself in his room.)
  • A homeschooler (at certain duty stations)
    (My kids had an eclectic educational experience for sure.)
  • A day care provider (for days when school was out but the base was working)
  • A Key Spouse (one of my absolute favorite hats the military ever let me wear)
  • A DIYer
  • A (very unofficial) counselor (when friends have been struggling with a duty station, military-related life events, etc.)
  • A travel guide (for visiting friends and family and for those getting ready to PCS to a place we’d been stationed previously)

This is by no means a comprehensive list. One thing I’ve learned from an adulthood spent as a military spouse is that we can be anything we need to be, and we can do things we never thought we were capable of doing. As we enter PCS season, here’s to all military spouses who make it work at each and every duty station. We wear so many hats besides just those of spouse and (for a lot of us) parent. Wear all those hats proudly this PCS season, no matter what it has in store for you. And know that each of those hats represents another reason why military spouses are some of the most powerful, skillful people anywhere.

We’d love to hear what “hats” you’ve had to wear during your time as a military spouse. Drop us a line and let us know what your favorite, most unexpected, or most-loved “hat” has been.

Heatherlynn Akins is a proud Air Force spouse (retired), mom, and retired pet obituary author.

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