Season 4 Episode 160: Military Spouse and Family Transition with Sarah Bumgardner

In celebration of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we are pleased to host Sarah Bumgardner. Sarah is a military spouse and a certified financial education instructor who has worked with AAFMAA since 2010. She is currently the Director of Partnerships and Member Engagement and supports both AAFMAA members and the entire military community.

Sarah became a military spouse when her first husband became an officer in the US Marine Corps. For 10 years, Sarah lived the mil spouse lifestyle of raising kids, traveling and moving. When her husband transitioned out of the military, their marriage didn’t survive. Several years later, Sarah remarried an Army retiree.

Sarah reflects on the transition her family experienced when her husband separated from the military after 10 years of service. While there was excitement for the next chapter, she and her husband experienced a sense of loss in their identities and the loss of the military community. Many times, spouses have different ideas about what life looks like after the military. It’s important to communicate during the transition process and take time to reconnect and reestablish roles in the home. For those that serve less than 20 years and who don’t have the buffer of a pension, finding the next job is a huge stressor. As a mil spouse and in her current role, Sarah has learned that finding the next job doesn’t mean the transition is over. It's a long process that involves finding a new purpose, for both the veteran and mil spouse.

Sarah encourages active-duty service members to acknowledge that their military spouses are also going through a transition. Although it looks different, they are also losing their identity, community and sense of purpose as well. Children will feel a change in the new daily routines that occur after leaving the military.

AAFMAA is dedicated to both service members and their families. We are grateful to have them sponsor the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast. In addition to offering the military community financial and insurance solutions, AAFMAA partners with several nonprofit organizations to help veterans and spouses find mentors to help them navigate the transition including finding a new purpose and getting a job. Military spouses can sometimes feel disconnected from the transition process. Sarah encourages every mil spouse to attend the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) with their service member.

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