Military Family Relocation: Seeking a “New Normal”


with Shannon Razsadin of the Military Family Advisory Network


Nov 02, 2018

The average military family relocates every two and a half years due to military orders. While relocating keeps the family together, many military spouses may find themselves constantly seeking a “new normal.”

Military spouse Shannon Razsadin, Executive Director of the Military Family Advisory Network, has moved three times in five years with her young children in tow. She discusses efforts to help families navigate resources and support as they relocate.

Hosted by: Paul Lisnek Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Lisnek: I think we´d all agree that the stress of moving to a new home in a new location affects everybody in a family -- adults, kids. New schools, new community, finding new doctors -- it´s all part of the move. Well, for the average military family, this happens about every 2 1/2 years. Hello. Welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Paul Lisnek. There´s a lot of logistics involved with any move. Many military spouses may find themselves in a constant cycle of needing to figure out a new normal. Joining me to discuss this and a lot more is Shannon Razsadin. She´s the Executive Director of the Military Family Advisory Network. Shannon, good to see you.

Razsadin: Thank you for having me.

Lisnek: I think the best place to start with you is the fact that I should recognize -- you´ve lived through what we´re talking about. You are a military spouse.

Razsadin: Absolutely.

Lisnek: And you got to move to different places. Talk about that.

Razsadin: Absolutely. So, married for five years. And in that time, we have moved from Washington, D.C., to Spain, Spain to D.C., and D.C. to Rhode Island. So it´s really -- It´s a great adventure, but with that comes a lot of obstacles and things you have to overcome as a family.

Lisnek: As a military spouse, I guess one could ask, you knew what you were in for, right? Or does it end up being like, "Yeah, but not really"?

Razsadin: It´s one thing to hear. It´s another thing to live it. And the logistics that go into a move -- everything from moving between climates to signing kids up for new schools and sports teams and just figuring out your new community and building those friendships, it can be a lot for people. And then, when you layer in things like deployments and other challenges that come with military life, when you don´t have that local support system, it can be tough.

Lisnek: Well, especially interesting in your case, you moved to Spain. Very different culture and lifestyle. But for any military family doing this, you have to think about the difficulties of taking kids out of a school where they have friends, a neighborhood where you have friends. How much of a challenge is it, aside from the "Find the new school," to getting uprooted where you have connections? I know your kids are little, but for people that have kids...

Razsadin: Absolutely. So, I have a 6-month-old and a 2-year-old. So we haven´t lived through that, but I´ve seen a lot of friends and the challenges that they face, and there can be guilt, moving your kids, and sometimes families choose to live apart. So, we did a research study last year, and we found that 43% of our respondents chose to live separately, and that was often because of the kids´ school or because of a spouse´s career. When you´re moving every 2, 2 1/2 years, you have to think that every move is a new job. And so if you have a job that you love, sometimes it´s best to stay behind, and that´s if you´re lucky to find a job.

Lisnek: And I think some people, when I say Spain, there´s probably some viewers watching going, "I´ll go to Spain."

Razsadin: Right.

Lisnek: I get that. But they also need to realize there´s a financial impact to what goes on. Some people think the military, they´re covering everything for you. It´s not that way.

Razsadin: No. So, the military does cover the physical move, but with every move, there´s added expenses. You know, we´ve never had a move where everything has arrived 100% intact, and so you have to fix things and replace things. Or then, you have a new home, and so you go from a certain number of square feet to a different number, and that´s either upsizing or downsizing. And then, just the added costs as far as figuring out the new clothes, the new schools, the new sports teams, that really can add up for families. And while the military does a great job covering certain things, there are added expenses that really can add up and impact families.

Lisnek: So, military families need to be prepared for this. That´s what you´re all about.

Razsadin: Right.

Lisnek: Talk to me about the services you provide.

Razsadin: Absolutely. So, we have several online resources for military families to help them navigate different aspects of life. So, one of our best-known programs is MilCents, which is an online social-learning financial-education program. And what it really does is, it takes the tons of resources out there and puts them all together in a way that makes sense for families and then gives them an opportunity to talk about what they´re learning with other program participants. We also have a program called MilMap, which is essentially an online tool to help people find resources that are near them and where they might be moving next. And we´re getting ready to launch a new program online called MilYou, which is an online wellness program. We know that military families have access to their computer. We know that they´re online. It´s by bringing them these resources, we´re hoping to drive them from awareness to action.

Lisnek: And so, obviously, when the families find this, I imagine you talk to a lot of the spouses in these families, and that can be male or female. It goes in any direction. Are the problems different from that gender perspective?

Razsadin: You know, I think that we all face some challenges that are inherent with this life, and I think that we all really try to band together and support each other, but it´s really also recognizing that military spouses come in all genders, and so we all need to work together and support each other, and local communities should be aware that they might have military families around them and just not know that they´re military families. And so lending that hand of support and just being there and helping them create that network really makes a big difference.

Lisnek: And, of course, the people who serve our country, and I thank you, on behalf of you and your family, because you are serving the country. Nobody says, "Where do you want to go? What location would you like to live in?"

Razsadin: No, no, it´s an adventure, and so part of it is taking an opportunity and making the best out of it but then also recognizing that sometimes it´s tough and sometimes you need that extra help and not being afraid to ask for it when you need it.

Lisnek: All right. How can people help you?

Razsadin: Just really being aware of the resources that we offer for military families and then also recognizing that you probably do have military families that are around you and not being afraid to ask them if they need help.

Lisnek: All right. Thanks for the work you do.

Razsadin: Absolutely.

Lisnek: Shannon Razsadin with the Military Family Advisory Network. I appreciate your time.

Razsadin: Thank you.

Lisnek: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across our country, just go to I´m Paul Lisnek.

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