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Here’s what to expect when your Guardsman leaves for AT

There is military gear all over the place, your spouse has stocked up on baby wipes and you start to get that pain in your stomach. Annual training season is coming up soon, and you will be saying goodbye to your soldier for a short amount of time.

Being in the National Guard, you know and expect AT to come every year, but sometimes it can sneak right up on you. You might be used to the weekends away but this training is something else. For newer military spouses, AT is the “two weeks” part of the “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” phrase I am sure you have heard before.

If you have never been through an AT before, you might be a bit nervous, especially if your spouse hasn’t been away from home in a while. And even if you have done this many times before, you still might have a few concerns.

I can’t tell you AT is easy, any time apart from your spouse rarely is, but knowing more about what to expect can be helpful. Here are a few things to remember as you get ready to send your Guardsman off for AT.

Their pay will change

Depending on your spouse’s civilian career, their pay is going to change. Some employers will pay while your spouse is at AT and others won’t. The military is probably not going to pay your spouse for AT on the same days they normally get paid. You will need to be aware of this and plan accordingly. Having savings can help for any unexpected pay delays.

Read tips on spending your AT money

Annual training can be longer than two weeks

While AT is sometimes two weeks, it can also be as long as almost a month. Your spouse should be able to tell you how long they are gone for, but remember that dates change. One year, my husband was even delayed by a few days because of how many planes they had available to get everyone home. You just never know, so make sure to be flexible and understand that there could be changes.

You might not be able to talk every day

There could be times during AT when you can’t talk to your spouse at all. This will of course depend on many different factors, including where they are, what the terrain is like, and even what they will be allowed to do. Not talking to your spouse every day when you are used to doing so can be frustrating. Just remember, this won’t last forever and before you know it, they will be home again.

Murphy’s Law

Because your spouse will be gone, and you may or may not be able to even talk with them on a daily basis, you should make sure you know who to call in the case of an emergency. You should know who to call if your AC goes out, who can watch your children if you need to take one to the ER, and how to take care of your car if something were to go wrong. Murphy’s Law can be a thing, especially in military life, and AT is the perfect time for Murphy to show up.

If you are getting ready for AT, know that you can get through this upcoming time apart. Prepare for the time they will be away, find ways to stay busy, and know that this is one part of being a National Guard spouse.

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