Military Spouses Don’t Receive Medals (But Probably Should)
Hero of the Home Front – The Military Spouse
May 10, 2013 by David Khan
Being a spouse of a military member can be a significant challenge. Even the strongest man or woman who takes on this endeavor will find it a test of their dedication and endurance after they say, “I do.” Military Spouses don’t wear a rank on their collar – or sleeve – nor do they receive a salary from Uncle Sam for what they do. They typically don’t have a say in their husband or wife’s career path, but instead provide the silent resilience that empowers their loved one to serve. Their role in the military is no less important, it’s a team effort that enables the men and women in the armed forces to do what they do for this country.
Military wives (and husbands) are some of the strongest people I’ve met in my life. They’re smart, flexible, creative and fiercely loyal. Their decision to be the spouse of a military service member is a vocation that most take very seriously and perform with great pride. These women (and men) have experienced holidays, birthdays and special events alone while their loved ones are deployed. If they have kids, they must take on the roles of both parents without much help from their deployed spouse. They cheerfully answer the phone regardless of the time difference when their spouse calls from overseas just to vent or whine about how crummy their day was. With the inherent ‘nomadic lifestyle’ that the military requires, permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves require that a military spouse must be ready to pick up and move in relatively short notice. With all those challenges, most spouses are still able to juggle at least a part time job if not a full time career to help maintain their family budget. Military members are able to focus on the job at hand while being deployed because of the stability spouses provide at home. Knowing that everything is under control and being able to rely on them is a huge source of relief when deployed. Simply put, a military spouse is the anchor that keeps things from running adrift at home.
Thankfully these silent, unsung ‘heroes at home’ are getting some well-deserved attention. Legislation such as the Military Spouse Job Continuity Act would serve to help those spouses quickly reestablish themselves back into their professions after they move. There are also some really great support programs on most bases along with many military spouse groups. There are also simple ways anyone in the community can give back to those spouses:
- Offering to watch the kids for a couple hours is a thoughtful way to provide them an opportunity to decompress with a much needed break.
- Preparing a meal for them (and the family) can really be a great way to show you care.
- Separation from their military spouse can be even more depressing and difficult during the holidays. Ensure you include them in your plans during special occasions.
- Seize the opportunity to take care of the mundane things for them such as mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow from the driveway or raking the leaves without asking.
- Just being available to listen can mean so much to someone who may feel overwhelmed or isolated. Many get offers at the beginning of a long deployment; be sure to follow up with them until their loved one returns home.
- Offering a simple thank you to them for the sacrifices that they and their spouse make to ensure the freedoms this nation enjoys.
So when we take the time during Military Appreciation Month to celebrate the sacrifices made by our men and women in the armed forces, it’s important to acknowledge the unspoken part of that winning team which are the military spouses. None of them will ever be awarded a medal for what they do, but they probably should be.