What OCONUS Service Members Miss The Most

Author: Kailyn Rhinehart, Air Force Spouse

Service members and their families often must live in unfamiliar places. Some stay stateside, while others are stationed abroad. Those living outside the continental United States, can get homesick. They long for the familiar things they leave behind.

Familiar Faces

An OCONUS duty station often means leaving family and community behind particularly if on an unaccompanied tour. Many members of the military community agree that the new culture and sights are appealing.

However, distance takes a toll when missing those they love.

Traveling back home isn’t all that easy, either. The finances and time needed for travel weigh heavily on many military families. While active-duty service members and their families can build community wherever they go, missing familiar faces back home never gets easier.

Comfort Food

It seems distance makes the heart grow fonder for more than just familiar faces.

With amazing food in other countries around the globe, you may not think military personnel get homesick for American food. But it’s normal to miss familiar meals you’ve grown up with. Service members often admit to a new appreciation of popular American food once stationed overseas.

Other countries do have similar ways of making familiar food. But there’s nothing like some Texas BBQ or greasy take out. Service members discover that being homesick for things like ranch dressing and bagels isn’t so out of the ordinary after all!

Culture, Language, and Holidays

Many find themselves homesick for the most obvious cultural, language, and holiday differences. Bases usually celebrate American holidays on their installation. However, many OCONUS countries often do not and let’s face it, it is just not the same as being home for the holidays.

Adapting to a new culture is no small feat. Culture and language can also complicate daily tasks. Barriers like language, customs, and holidays are added stressors in the lives of our men and women.

Many OCONUS duty stations offer opportunities to travel. However, service members may find themselves missing the familiarity and ease of traveling within the States. They may more frequently get lost because of language or directions (or which side of the road to drive on!).

Seasons and Weather

It’s common to miss every sense of predictability when living abroad. It’s easy to become accustomed to things you’ve always known but never noticed. The familiarity of things like seasons and weather alone can cause some to feel homesick. They must become familiar with new patterns and rhythms of familiar things–even things as basic as the weather and seasons.

One Last Thought

Living abroad comes with many mixed feelings and emotions. While those stationed OCONUS can easily create a list of things they are homesick for, most savor the opportunity. They embrace new cultures and holidays. They throw themselves into new experiences, even if they involve language barriers.

So yes, U.S. Military members stationed abroad might long for nachos or Fourth of July fireworks at some point. But they don’t discount the adventures that come with being stationed overseas.


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