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Why My Service is Enough

I’ve been a military spouse now for more than a decade.

No, I’m not a good military spouse as far as participation within our squadrons or packing the perfect deployment care packages. I’ve made a consorted effort to not “wear my husband’s rank” and, instead, to make something of myself as an individual.

But, I am a deeply proud spouse.

I’m so proud of the fact that my husband chooses every day to protect and defend this country. I’m proud that he has deployed four times overseas to support U.S. efforts and, most importantly, protect other service members in harms way.

My husband is regularly thanked for his service, as he should; as any human who would voluntarily sign up to risk his or her life for someone else’s should.

On rare occasions, I’m thanked for my service, too. Usually I meet those remarks with something coy and along the lines of “I’m just the wife” or, when I’m feeling especially snarky, “I’m just the dependent.” I scoff at that last statement. I LOATHE that last statement. I usually want to scream at the top of my lungs that I am not dependent of anyone or on anything.

And yet, sometimes, in the most unexpected times, I truly feel reduced to that sentiment.

“Just the dependent.”

About a month ago, I was on a business trip that happened to be in my hometown. I was able to mix work with some family time. My sister joined me at the hotel where I was staying, and we decided to do something “touristy.” As we were paying our admission, I asked, as has become standard for me in such situations, if they offered a military discount.

I was met with a cold “not for dependents, just the active duty member.” I bit my tongue, paid my money, and walked away.

For the record, this has nothing to do with the discount. I appreciate any entity that offers any discount to any person.

What offended me in that moment was that I was put as lesser than my husband. I was deemed “not good enough” because of my role in life.

Sure, I’ve heard that statement at least a 100 times through the years and have shrugged it off. But I’m not the same military spouse that I was 10 plus years ago.

I’ve weathered many storms.

I’ve survived four deployments, two of which were only separated by about four and a half months.

I can’t even count the number of TDYs we’ve endured. Because, if I’m being honest, sometimes the temporary assignments are worse than deployments. They come up unexpectedly and last minute. They’re never short, as their name implies. My husband missed both pregnancies with both of our children and was only home days before their births.

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, sickness, and death: He’s missed all of it.

I put a house on the market, signed at least 100 pieces of paper using a Power of Attorney, organized PCS logistics, and moved across the country with a 15-month-old, ALL without him.

I’ve put our children to bed, been the only parent who they’ve woken up to, and have had countless meals with them alone. Both of my children had major surgery while their dad was halfway across the world.

I’ve put beloved pets down, I’ve missed work days to care for sick children, and I’ve missed family functions because we just couldn’t make the trip happen that time.

I have military spouse friends who have delivered babies while their husbands’ were deployed, and they weren’t granted their leave that they were promised. I have friends who have weathered more deployments than me, with more Murphy’s Law moments than me, and who have literally lived their lives practically single for the majority of their marriage.

I’ve also known those who have lost their spouse in combat, in training, and even to PTSD — the kind of loss that makes you question, “if only they hadn’t …”

I’m not trying to be a whiny, it’s clearly not about the discount. But we are serving, too.

We didn’t sign up for this, but we wouldn’t change it. We signed up to marry our partner, the loves of our lives, the one we chose in which to have a family. We didn’t sign up to be “just a dependent.”

What I’m trying to say is that MY service is enough. I do enough. I AM enough. WE are enough.

And sometimes, I just want someone else to recognize that too.

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3 Responses to Why My Service is Enough

  1. Avatar
    Shel DeLisle November 12, 2018 at 1:13 pm #

    You are enough & many folks don’t recognize that the phrase “it takes a village” applies to more than just children. That village should support the families of military & protective services & be willing to recognize the sacrifice close family & friends make when they love someone who works to protect the public & citizens of the US. Thank you for your service…whatever form it takes.

  2. Avatar
    Kim November 25, 2018 at 11:58 pm #

    So I have a LOT to say on this topic. First of all I could NOT do what any spouse does to support their military member. I help run a frigen squadron and I say again I COULD NOT do what our spouse(s) do to support our VERY selfish careers! I remind my Skipper that his spouse makes PFM happen! Our very selfish and self centered careers leave behind tattered loved ones. I go to sleep every night wishing I could fix this very big shortcoming of our profession. Then I realize I may not be able to change it, but there is a strong brigade of men/women who will show up to still support! I thank all of the spouses for showing up. Frankly you deserve a discount for just dealing with our high maintenance as*es! Please call me (904-716-7043) when some ignorant individual wants to question whether or not you deserve a discount. I will school them beyond their threshold and they will decide giving you a discount is better than dealing with me! Share on my spouse warriors! I will answer the phone!!

  3. Avatar
    Candice November 27, 2018 at 12:23 am #

    You are the badass-est of all the badass moms I’ve ever known. I mean that with all sincerity. Moming is basically the hardest job ever (and then you somehow made room for all the other individual achievements, while I’m over here just tryna survive), and I cant even begin to imagine what it would be like to do it solo for any length of time (and so far away from family). I’m not sure that a “thank you for your service” is really even sufficient. JUST GIVE THE FAMILIES THEIR EVER-LOVING DISCOUNTS – Its the LEAST they deserve! 10 out of 10 moms agree: military spouses are the most remarkable people. And they deserve free childcare whenever they need it. Is there a non-profit specifically for that? TELL ME WHERE TO SEND MY CHECK!
    PS. A family vacation to Whidbey is looking pretty eminent… summer 2019 get ready for us! 😄

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