In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day---an excerpt from:
Warrior Wife: Overcoming the Unique Struggles of a Military Marriage
When a service member leaves the military, the government
gives them a name—a new identity that will stay with them for
the course of their lives. They share this name with countless
others, some of which earned it before they were born. The
name they are given is “veteran.” If you look up veteran, it comes
from the Latin word vetus, meaning “old.” It is a person who
has had long service or experience in a particular occupation.
Even though lots of veterans aren’t old by age standards, the
experience of a military job is aging and compressed to include
a vast amount of experience in a short time.
Most people I know who hear someone described as a
veteran will automatically assume a military veteran or even
more specific in some cases, a combat veteran. It is a title not
lightly earned and one I’m glad our country gives. The truth is,
once you’ve served in the military and seen war, you will always
carry those lessons of life, death, operations, commitment, etc.,
with you. It is those military pieces that make it so uniquely
different from other jobs. That will never change, no matter
how much of a civilian you might become.
However, there is no new name given to military wives
when they leave service alongside their husbands. We don’t
gain a new identity; we simply become “the wife.” There is
no special title that contributes to our unique experiences—the
experience that the civilian world will never understand. But
like our husbands, we don’t change or lose that piece of us when
a DD-214 is handed to our spouse. We will always be military
wives at heart.
As a military wife, either former or present, you understand
that life isn’t always about the big moments. It’s about those
moments in between that make a four-day weekend into a
mini-vacation after a hard training cycle.
You know that when your husband leaves for days or weeks
at a time, it won’t shake you. After four, six, nine, twelve,
fifteen months of learning how to keep the home fire burning
while he led dangerous missions, you gained the strength to
know that time spent apart now will never be that hard again.
You’ve learned to roll with no predictability in your life
and last-minute adjustments to any of your carefully laid plans.
You will always be able to rattle his Social Security Number
off in your sleep but have to pause before you recite your own.
Holidays like the Fourth of July will always carry somberness because you know at least one person who gave his life for that very celebration. Any time bagpipes are played, your heart strings will pull. However, you’ve also gained the gift of appreciation and will never take your days together for granted.
Your abbreviation lingo will never be understood again so
you’ll have to finally learn what FRG and PCS actually mean.
The unique tie between your military friends versus your
civilian ones will always be there, even after years of not seeing
someone. You’ll still have a strong root connecting you to them
because you understand one another and know where they’ve
been and what they went through.
We know what support is, and we know how to give it better than anyone else because we’ve spent the last untold years giving it unconditionally to our husbands, to our fellow wives, and sometimes to strangers. Even when it left us with nothing, we still gave. These things are just a fingerprint of what we really gain during our time spent in arms next to our husbands. “Military wife” was not an easily acquired title, but we can be certain that the qualities it signifies don’t stop when we lose it. So now, as we venture out into the world of twelve-hour time, we should bestow those gifts we learned onto others who didn’t have the privilege of experiencing our unique way of living. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed all my time as a military wife, and it’s doubtful any of us can, but I’m certainly grateful for the lessons it helped me learn and the person it molded me to be, as I’m sure you are too, or soon will discover.
Warrior Wife By Hillary Sigrist is available now on www.amazon.com