Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day!
I’ve been thinking about what to write for today’s blog for about a week now. Military spouse appreciation is a very personal topic for me, because I am one.
Being a military spouse is something I don’t think many people understand, unless they experience it first hand. At least that’s how it worked for me. I honestly, had no idea what life as a military spouse would be like for me until I started living it. But, of course, everyone is different.
Military spouses face many hardships. Enduring long deployments that sometimes lead to weeks without phone calls or Skype, not telling your spouse what’s really going on for fear that you may distract them from their job by worrying about problems at home, days of worrying, sleepless nights, fear of someone knocking on your door, taking care of the house, finances, and family alone, just to name a few. This doesn’t even express how hard it is to be away from your spouse for 6 months to a year; from having your spouse with you nearly every day to only being able to talk to him by phone or Skype whenever he gets a chance. You can’t call him when you want to talk, you have to wait until he can call you. And it’s an adjustment when they come home… for both of you. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting back into a routine, other times it’s like getting to know each other all over again. Even when our spouses are not deployed, we often have to deal with the military coming first and us coming second. We endure the long hours our spouses are away even when they are at home – the really early mornings, the really late nights, the 24 hours of duty, or several days in the field. We pick up and move to wherever we are told even if we don’t want to go there. That often means being hours and hours, and miles and miles away from our family and friends. Sometimes you feel like you barely had time to settle between the unpacking and packing again. We often put off our own goals and sacrifice our careers to make things work. Even when we might have an opportunity, like knowing we will be in one location for a while and finding job openings in our field, we could easily be turned down for that position just because we are military spouses and we might have to move again. Military spouses face an unemployment rate that is triple the national rate and we are not protected under any federal hiring discrimination laws. This can make getting a job or having a career much more complicated than for the average person. Military spouses often put off education too. With how often many military members are moved, there isn’t always enough time to complete a degree. Not all educational programs are offered everywhere either. This can definitely limit our options. Sometimes military spouses feel as if they are just an appendage of their husband, and often times we aren’t fond of being called a “dependent.” These are just some of the many hardships and sacrifices that military spouses often face.
I know, that probably sounds like a handful of complaints, but it’s a reality. It is by no means easy, however, with all the difficulties that military life presents, it is also full of blessings.
You have the opportunity to meet some wonderful people who are in the same situation. They understand exactly what you are going through, can be a great support system and can be lifelong friends. There are many programs for spouses to get involved in, whether it’s a spouses club or the Family Readiness Office (or Family Readiness Group). We can attend spouse events. There’s support such as funding and scholarships for spouse who would like to get a higher education degree. We have the opportunity to see different parts of the country, let alone different parts of the world; to see how others live and experience different cultures. There is spousal preference for jobs on base or post. We have access to the commissary and PX and other facilities on base, like gyms, pools, and childcare. There are some amazing programs that are fighting for military members, their spouses, their families, and veterans, like the First Lady and Second Lady’s Joining Forces. We are very independent. We are flexible. We are adaptable. We are creative, and if we aren’t we learn to be. We get to see our spouses in their uniforms! We have the opportunity to dress up and attend balls. We have our own day of appreciation :). We get a military discount. We have health care benefits. The reunions after a long deployment are so, so sweet; it can be like the honeymoon stage all over again. We have an immense amount of pride in our spouses and our country.
Some days we absolutely love this lifestyle, and other days we cannot stand it, but that’s normal, and it’s okay. Just like every lifestyle, it has pros and cons, but we make the best of it.
This is just my experience of what it’s like to be a military spouse. Everyone’s is different. I am very grateful for the many things this life has presented me. I love my husband. I love our country. I hope this sheds a little light on what our lifestyle can be like.
Any other military spouses out there, feel free to share your experiences in the comments!
Make sure to tell the military spouses in your life that you appreciate them.
To all the military spouses out there: Thank you for all you do!