By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

It’s been a humdinger of a year, and I don’t know about you, but it sure felt like military families were dragged through the thick of it. From the political protests to ongoing budget issues to North Korea and Africa, military families are feeling the pressure. But, with a new year comes new things to look forward to. We’re good at that, right? Finding the silver lining and looking ahead to the next thing. 2018 is going to be great!

The 2018 Olympics

It’s an Olympic year! Nothing brings the world together like the Olympics, and as military families, we are always excited to support our U.S. athletes. My favorite part of the Olympics are the stories about how the athletes overcame obstacles and trained hard for these moments. Of course, I’m partial to those who are also serving in the military. Like Army Sgt. Emily Sweeney, who will represent the USA (and the Army), in the luge competition in South Korea in February.

Are you stationed overseas and want to watch the Olympics? Don’t rely on YouTube or AFN, check this out. NBCOlympics.com and The Exchange have partnered again to make viewing the Olympics possible.

Pay Raise

What? A pay raise? Yes, kind of. While this year’s budget includes a 2.4 percent pay raise on base pay, a lot of families are not going to feel that. When the BAH rates for 2018 dropped in December, there were a lot of surprised families. (Don’t forget, if you’re already stationed somewhere and your BAH drops, you’re grandfathered into that rate until you move or promote.) Military spouse Adrianne Huls talks about how BAH is dropping in some places and offers some ideas on how to make it stretch farther.

Some Professional Recognition

Military spouses have been banging the employment drum for years. Loudly. Finally, someone listened! With the latest budget, military spouses may now be eligible for professional license rebates of up to $500! This means that when you move from one state to another and have to get a new certification to work in the new state, you can get a little help paying for it.

A Little More Control

While we know the military doesn’t take into account school schedules, spouse employment, or the health of our extended family when deciding on a PCS schedule, we will now have a little more control over it. Sure, our service member spouse still has no choice, but another section of the new defense budget allows eligible families to delay or advance their move by up to 180 days.

These families would be able to either stay behind or move ahead of their service member. The big deal? They can now get BAH for the place they are living, even if it’s different from where their service member is. (Note: Only one BAH, not two will be paid.) Service members will also be eligible for government housing if available.

After 15+ years of war and a draining op-tempo, these things sure make 2018 a little more exciting to us!

PCSgrades AuthorRebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, Army wife, and mother of three. She enjoys coffee, running, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSgrades,ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com or on Twitter (@rebecca_alwine) and Instagram (@rebecca_alwine).