A Thank You

Every year, there is a Military Spouses Appreciation Day. For this I am very grateful. We need it. It can feel like thankless work, and it can feel lonely and hard. I like having a day where we’re reminded to reach out not only to our military service members but to their families. I usually take this day to send a note to a few military wives who are inspirational to me. My husband always makes a special point of thanking me for keeping up the home front so he can give everything he needs to give to his job. I think this day is important and good, but I’d like to take a moment today in appreciation for civilian wives.
The past two years have been striking for me as a military wife. Deaths, an ever present part of military reality, have struck closer and closer to home, reawakening worries I’d learned to live with without consciously thinking about them often. Politics has added worries about benefits we might have taken for granted, and has affected the mood on the bases we call home. However, in the same two years I’ve grown in my admiration for those outside the military bubble, who struggle with their own set of worries. When we get married we all take our spouses for better or for worse. In every marriage the concrete details of those extremes look different. Worse, for a military spouse, has a unique feel to it. Still, the better part is unique as well. I am grateful that we can have our children without wondering if we can afford the insurance or medical expenses. I’m grateful that in a terrible economy my husband has decent job security and predictable take home pay. I will never live close to my family, and I will move around every few years for the foreseeable future. This is a burden. Yet when I gave birth to my youngest child, three months after moving to a new town, my military “family” brought enough food to stuff my freezer. When my husband has gone away I have been a part of a community of women who have gone through the same thing and can support and encourage me. Meanwhile friends of mine outside the military have had to move far from family for a variety of reasons. Many husbands and wives have been separated by work, sometimes for extended periods. They bravely soldier on without this amazing support structure I appreciate so much and with no acknowledgement or fanfare. I married my husband knowing our life would present difficulties, but also knowing they were ones I personally could handle. Not because they were easier or harder, but the matched my abilities. The strength of the families I know who endure all these everyday fears and trials is extraordinary, and a kind of strength I don’t know if I would possess.
Let me take this opportunity then, to tell all my non-military sisters that I admire you. My husband and I get to hear, “I appreciate your service.” I am proud to hear these words and proud of what my husband does. Just in case you never hear it though, we appreciate your service. You do important work in your careers, in your homes, and in your communities. You are why military members do what they do, because they are happy and grateful to live in a land full of such amazing people. I would also like to take this moment to apologize for any time a military spouse, from an innocent and natural desire to talk about the challenges in our lives, has belittled yours. Your family’s struggles and triumphs are as real as ours and you should never be made to feel devalued or demeaned. Thank you, generally for all your work, and specifically for the numberless ways those in my life have helped me and my family. I am proud and lucky to call you friends.

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