I was messing around on the backside of the blog yesterday and decided I would go through the draft posts I had started but never finished.
Usually an idea comes from a conversation or a thought and I jot down a few things in a document, meaning to polish and publish my opinions later. But usually they just sit there in limbo until I decide they are not worth rehashing.
I came across this list which I had made a long time ago – after yet another Facebook discussion about military families. I wasn’t going to finish it. In fact, it was by accident that I pressed “publish” instead of the “move to trash” button. I’ll blame it on my wireless mouse acting up.
But then I realized my subscribers would get an email about a post that wasn’t there. They would get a weird, short list that sounded like a rant against America. So, I decided to finish it. For the sake of my email subscribers and because I do want to put this out there.
I’ve seen a lot of posts about being a military spouse. I agree with some of them. Other ones I don’t. Opinions vary. I’m not here to make generalizations about our type. In fact, this list is kind of opposite to that.
I want people to know that we don’t all fit into a box. That is where some of the trouble happens when I talk to people online about military life – they assume that since I am married to a soldier I fit in some preconceived, very defined, genre.
So this is my anti-list. Here are five things I want to tell you about me, a military spouse, and about our military life.
Note: After I wrote this list and read it over it seemed really negative. I don’t mean to be negative. I’m a pretty positive person when you get to know me! So please read this list knowing that it was hard for me to write, that they are things that come up over and over again, and that really do concern me.
1. Some days I don’t feel sacrificial, patriotic, or proud
It seems as though people think that if I don’t beam with pride over every award, or like every pro-military post on Facebook that I’m just not a good, patriotic Army wife.
The truth is, most days I just want my husband home. I want to be a normal family that can plan a vacation without a deployment, PSC, or TDY coming up. It never fails – every time we plan something as a family Jay has to leave.
We’ve actually counted it up before – I think 45% of our marriage has been spent in a long-distance relationship. Ok, it might not be that much. But I know that from the years 2006-2013 Jay spent every other year gone. Either he was deployed to Iraq, going to school, on constant TDY assignments, or stationed in Korea.
It’s hard to be pie-in-the-sky patriotic all the time when you are dealing with that. A little cynicism creeps in.
2. I’m married to a person, not an institution
One of the things that Jay made clear to me right away when we got married was that I was a civilian and I did not have to do any of the things he did. I don’t have to know ranks, I don’t have to stand at attention, and I don’t have to put up with soldiers barking orders at me.
I’ve been a military spouse for almost 14 years and I have seen spouses judge each other based on their husband’s rank, on how much they knew about ceremonies and traditions, about what is going on in units, and everything you could think of.
For the most part, I have been able to avoid all that nonsense because I know that the military is not my business. My business is my husband – to support him, love him, and honor him.
I will not allow my husband’s job to define who I am as a person.
3. Don’t assume my political beliefs by my relationship to the government
If you really want to know my beliefs on politics, world events, etc. please feel free to ask me. I would love to discuss those things with you.
However, just don’t assume you know what I believe or where I stand. You will be very surprised.
Like I said above, I’m not married to the Army. I don’t have to agree with everything the President, the military, or the government does.
In fact, I don’t agree with a lot of things our military powers do. I’m not proud of what images the word “America” brings in the minds of some countries.
But, people usually assume that I am a conservative Republican. That I support every war, every military action.
I can tell you that every soldier, every military family has a right to their own political beliefs. They have the right to vote, or to choose not to vote. Just because they are “serving their country” does not mean they have to bend over and worship everything our country decides.
That is actually kind of dangerous. To have a military force that will blindly follow orders and agree with every policy put into place. I can tell you that our military force is not like that in the least. Soldiers and spouses have a wide variety of political views and we express them the same way as you.
4. My husband doesn’t “fight” for his country
Ok, so this one is about my husband and not me. But it affects me.
To the people who have called my husband a baby killer in the airport, who ask how he can live with himself after going to war, who assume that all soldiers are psychotic killing machines:
My husband doesn’t really “fight”.
So he has what is considered a combat job. He has never seen combat.
He has been in some terrible situations and suffers from that, but he has never had to fight anyone.
Now, I’m not trying to play down soldiers who do go out there in combat. I defend them as well. I’m just trying to explain that my husband usually sits in a TOC (tactical operations center) and watches a screen. His job is air defense. I have to laugh when people who don’t understand what his job is AT ALL start throwing judgments his way.
If you did sit down and try to understand what he does, you might find out that having a guy like him on your side is a pretty good thing. Especially when some crazy dude who runs an Asian country which we won’t name points a missile at your city.
5. I know how many benefits we get, and I am extremely grateful
Yes, I am well aware of how much income we get. I know that we get bonuses and allowances. And I want you to know that we are grateful for all of it. If not for the steady pay and benefits the military provides, we probably would have left a long time ago.
We’ve been able to go from a young married couple with no money to having a pretty decent life.
Money isn’t everything though. And just because someone’s annual pay, benefits, etc. is posted online for anyone to see does not mean it is ok to bring it up in polite conversation as if you understand how we live.
I get that you “pay” our wages. Thank you. In a weird way, we all pay everyone else’s wages. It is called an economy. I pay the grocer, who pays the supplier, who pays the manufacturer, who pays the farmer. And so on.
One thing I learned about preachers and soldiers is that people always think it is ok to bring up their pay. It’s not. I don’t ask you how much you make per year and then make judgments about what car you drive. Even if my taxes or my tithe is paying for it.
If I don’t work outside the home it is because we have prayed about it and decided that works for us. I’m not living off my husband’s benefits. In fact, I handle most of the finances, the moving arrangements, homeschool the kids, etc.
Now that I have those things off my chest, I want to encourage you to really listen to a military spouse. Get to know them. Ask about their political bent, their experience, what their husband/wife actually does. Don’t assume. We’re people. The military community is diverse and amazing. We don’t look like TV and movies portray us all the time.