To be honest, I’m having trouble deciding on where to start writing this entry. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never really put conscious thought into what it means to be a ‘military spouse’. I just was.
“Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day”. Really? Like is this a national holiday? Because it should be. If we aren’t on a base and completely surrounded by the military 150% of the time, we’d never know we were appreciated. And that is because no one, but ourselves, knows our battles. Each one is different, and yet we all share a few common denominators.
There is the obvious description of what people think we are, we spend a lot of time alone. We worry. We stress. But then there are things that aren’t so obvious, we often times find ourselves operating as single parents. We fight alone on the home front (or so it seems sometimes). We have no identity when it comes to the military and the benefits given. We are always identified as a ‘dependent’ crushing our individuality and in some cases, not all, creating chauvinistic a-holes in the men who we ‘depend’ on. (more on this in another blog)
Have you ever put thought into what that word means?
1.be controlled or determined by.“differences in earnings depended on a wide variety of factors”
synonyms: be contingent on, be conditional on, be dependent on, hinge on, hang on, rest on, rely on;be decided by“her career depends on a good reference”
When you describe us like this….it does something to our psyche.
As a military spouse, the “service” that we are thanked for goes far beyond the obvious.
My husband recently returned from an 8 month deployment to an area of the world that I’m not privee to. Doing a job, I have no idea about, and comes home with residual ‘interference’ that I can’t help him with. Do you understand how frustrating that is?
As a model, my job requires me to travel. Often times for days at a time. I am a Canadian citizen and my entire family resides in a foreign country. Not realizing it at the time, I purposely made my agents life difficult because I didn’t want to take a 2nd parent away from our 2 boys. I had an excuse for everything!
It’s hard enough for children to live without a parent on a good day, but what if that parent was in harms way? My kids don’t need verification that my husband is in danger, all they need to do is see the news, and then put 2 and 2 together.
Now, if I pursue my career while my husband is fighting for our lives and his on deployment….how will my kids function?
Sure, my Mom can come and take care of them. Friends have volunteered as well to help, but what can they say when it’s time for bed and our youngest is crying because he misses his daddy? It’s not fair for him that I leave, and I’m lucky that I have the choice. But the sacrifices go so much deeper than just sharing my husband with the rest of the country.
Often times, military spouses don’t have the liberty to be the ‘stay at home mom’ everyone thinks we are. The military pay isn’t phenomenal. Over the last 5 years our income has been threatened by government shut downs. So what are we to do when we live in a home that requires rent or a mortgage, need to put food on the table and pay other life supporting bills when our primary source of income could be snatched away from us as a moments notice (hello deployment)?
We have no choice but to find a job. And often, those jobs are low income producing or a ‘work from home business’ because we can’t commit to a long term position because in 2-5 years we’ll likely be moving.
Now I’m sure a lot of people out there might be reading this and be like, “oh suck it up lady, you get free medical & dental coverage”. Have you ever been to a naval medical facility? Did you know that the military doctors cannot be sued for negligence? Let that instill confidence in you next time you require a serious surgery. Is it better than no medical? Yes, but most recently we lost our dentist because our dental insurance now pays so low that it doesn’t even cover the biggest discount the practice offers and it’s just not economical for the dentist to treat us anymore. So now we need to search for a new dentist, who will take our insurance or ‘suck it up’ and pay out of pocket.
Let’s also talk about the fact that while our spouse is away, they cannot disclose to us what is going on. Therefore we are left to wonder and speculate and worry. Do you know how many times I had to pray myself to sleep just so I my mind wouldn’t wander into the unknown world of what my husband was doing overseas? How many times I had to smile and tell my boys that Daddy was ok for the 3rd week in a row of not hearing from him and trying my hardest not to cry while doing it?
My son became ill while my husband was gone, not seriously but still required a few days off of school & a doctors visit. But I wouldn’t dare tell my husband about it because the last thing I want to do is create a distraction for him that could not only put his life in danger but the men and women around him. For 8 months our relationship became very superficial. Is that selfish? Maybe, but if anything ever happened over there because my husband wasn’t 100% focused on the mission, I couldn’t live with myself.
There is an unspoken attitude amongst us veteran spouses, we just deal with it. No sense in complaining or bitching about it because we know, nothing is going to change.
When someone thanks ME for my service, often times I shrug it off and smile. Give the polite ‘thank you’. Afterall, I’m just doing what any normal Mom would do right? I’m just taking care of my family….But behind our big white smile and little giggle, just know, that we are each fighting a battle that we can’t talk about, often times have no answer for and couldn’t even if we wanted to and wouldn’t anyway because the number 1 lesson we’ve been taught as supportive spouses is ‘OPSEC’.
I am proud to be a military spouse, and I want to use my voice and my visibility to help those men and women holding down the homefront to have a voice and know that they aren’t alone and to raise awareness about what really goes on back home.
Be sure to follow and subscribe to my blog, as my next topic will be on the; “now he’s back, dysfunctional trials and tribulations of the reunited military couple. ”