I had a teacher in elementary school who said, “There are no dumb questions,” to encourage us to ask questions, even if we were embarrassed. I learned that year that even if dumb questions don’t exist, it’s very possible to feel dumb after asking a question. Especially when a room full of your peers laughs at you for asking it. I was a second grader scorned, and that probably has a lot to do with why I am the way I am today. I will waste an entire day figuring out how to do something myself to avoid asking for help.
After years of self-sufficiency, I married a Marine. His outfits all had names and he spoke in acronyms. The peak of my confusion was during our first PCS; my husband assured me I didn’t have to do a thing. So, I didn’t. I went to work as usual and came home to an empty apartment. It seemed he was right — my newlywed status kept me from being immediately suspicious.
When we arrived in North Carolina we lived in the lodge for a month. When we finally closed on our house, we couldn’t get our household goods delivered for another month. My rose-colored glasses were officially lost somewhere along I-10. I realized there, surrounded by chaos and packing paper, that I couldn’t “military spouse” alone. But, reluctant to ask thanks to the scars of second grade, I faked it during my husband’s first deployment – until I saw a Military OneSource magnet on a friend’s refrigerator and looked it up online.
You know those moments of clarity in movies with bright light and an angelically harmonized, “AHHH” ? That was me at my desk that night. I got my questions answered and learned things I didn’t even know to ask. It was just what I needed: a non-judgmental friend who just happened to be an expert in all things military life. Not once has Military OneSource laughed at me – including during my first pregnancy when I wondered if my husband got a pay increase for each additional dependent. Hard no, by the way.
I’ve been a Marine spouse for more than nine years. You’d think I’d have this military life thing figured out by now, but this is very much a learn-as-you-go adventure. For one, we move a lot, so that keeps us pretty occupied every two to three years. Between those moves, deployments, and an ever-growing to-do list, I usually look for a quick answer when I have a question.
Word-of-mouth advice and input can be helpful, but that usually only gets us one person’s experience. If we’re talking recommendations for a sushi restaurant, carry on, but if we’re talking about base resources, benefits, education — the big stuff, we can’t let one person’s experience count as our research. I learned this the hard way a few years ago while trying to make sense of 20+ people’s interpretation of how to transfer my husband’s GI Bill benefits to me. In a moment of desperation, I called Military OneSource. Within minutes I spoke to someone who knew what she was talking about – and best of all, could break it down for me in a way that I could easily understand. Thanks to her, I’m now four courses away from finishing my master’s degree.
As an adult, it’s less about the fear of asking “dumb questions” and more about the fear of getting “dumb answers.” To avoid those, Military OneSource has become my go-to fact-checker and the place I send new spouses or service members who are too nervous to ask questions. It’s fresh, it’s fast, and it’s full of accurate information — all of which is available online or by phone 24/7 (800-342-9647).
Go check it out and pass it on!