This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine. Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA.
Preparing for an OCONUS move is a lot to process. I remember when we were preparing to leave for Okinawa years ago.
Of course, there is the paperwork, medical clearance, shipping of belongings and beyond. But the hardest part for us was moving halfway around the world from our closest friends and family — our lifelines.
There were so many unknowns, and it was this fear of going through a difficult life challenge and not being able to call your mom or best friend to come over in a moment’s notice. We were worried.
OCONUS Duty Stations: A Meaningful and Memorable Experience
Here’s the crazy part:
Out of all the past duty stations and military life experiences, I can wholeheartedly say our time OCONUS was the most meaningful.
1. Your friends become family.
When you live OCONUS, there is rarely family nearby. In fact, your nearest family member is likely thousands of miles away. At first glance, this seems like a problem, but no, your military friends become your family.
Everyone is in the exact same situation as you.
What does everyone do for holiday get-togethers, barbeques, or birthday celebrations? You get together with your new family – the military families and friends you meet overseas.
Bonds become so tight that even years later, you consider those you met OCONUS close friends. You simply do not build relationships like that while staying in the USA.
2. It’s a huge opportunity for growth in your marriage.
Being overseas was, of course, a strain on our marriage. We were newly married, trying to figure out parenting with a newborn and toddler without our own parents, aunts and uncles nearby for guidance and support.
That was hard.
But gosh, I look back on that time now and it’s easy to see we came out of Okinawa a much stronger couple than when we first got there.
Through our struggles, we relied on each other, got better at communication and built an insane amount of trust.
3. You open up to new world perspectives.
By going OCONUS, you really gain a new perspective on the world. You find that different cultures and experiences reinforce what you come to know, that we are all part of humanity with hopes and dreams and fears, no matter what country we are from.
You learn to celebrate the differences, the things that make us all unique as individuals and as cultures. An opportunity like this makes a lifetime of enjoyable memories.
4. You focus on meaningful experiences, do with less material possessions.
You leave the rat race. You are not accumulating debt in new vehicles, a mortgage, or all the gadgets that go with them. We purchased beater cars and drove them around for 3 years. Our friends took pride in announcing who had the most piece of junk vehicle.
We were no longer emotionally weighed down by constantly comparing ourselves to the neighbors (we all lived in small homes or apartments made of concrete).
By removing ourselves from pursuit of what most call “The American Dream`,” we were free to give ourselves to the things that really matter – family, neighbors, and living lives in the present.
5. You talk about the memories made for years afterward.
My kids’ earliest memories are from Okinawa, and even five years later, they still speak with fondness over their experiences there. They loved the parks (Japanese parks are like no other!), the food and the relationships they built there with other military children.
We regularly look back at photo albums from those 3 years in our life and smile. When getting together with old friends, we cannot wait to swap Okinawa stories or re-live both our funniest and most difficult moments there.
One Thing That Made OCONUS Life Easier.
During our time overseas, one thing that made our life so much easier and less stressful was Navy Federal Credit Union. They took care of all our accounts, including checking, savings and business accounts.
Plus, there was a Navy Federal branch on base, creating even easier access when we needed it. Their service to veterans and military families allowed us to focus on what really mattered while we were OCONUS.
November is Veterans and Military Families Month, and while Navy Federal’s mission every day is to serve members, it wants this month to mean more through meaningful actions.That’s why Navy Federal is celebrating veterans and military families by presenting exclusive offers to enrich the lives of military members. Follow along with their #GratitudeMission on social and learn more about special veteran events and offers.
There’s more: Navy Federal is donating $50,000 to The Mission Continues.
Submit a photo of a place that holds special meaning to you from your time serving in the military for a chance to win $1,000!
Share the photo on Twitter or Instagram using #GratitudeMission and tagging @navyfederal, or you can upload your photo to Navy Federal’s Gratitude Mission page here: gratitudemission.navyfederal.org. Navy Federal will choose 25 winners, who will each receive $1,000. Contest ends November 14.
Want more on military life?
- 85 Most Inspiring Veteran Quotes to Say “Thank You for Your Service”
- How Military Spouses Can Make Friends (25+ Ideas)
- 7 Ways to Thank a Veteran Beyond Saying “Thank You”
- How to Send Care Packages for Troops Overseas – Idiot’s Guide