Every Friday before Mothers’ day there is a day of recognition for the military spouse. This is only fitting as currently 93% of all military spouses are females. The military spouses’ overall contribution to the readiness of our warfighters is immeasurable and is a reflection of the merging of cultural norms between an all-volunteer military and the civilian population at large. The silent ranks provide the warfighter with the warmth and love of home while they endure the sting of reality abroad. Inadvertently, the military spouse receives little or no appreciation for their contributions.
With quiet fortitude, the military spouse acts as that catalyst between the strongest military on Earth and the diverse civilian population they protect. The strength and patience required is often overwhelming and heart wrenching.
As Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden learned, the stories of the military families triumph and success should be a true beacon of hope for a fledging superpower. Mrs. Obama learned of a 15 year old girl who cared for her family after her father was badly burned. This young girl had little time to process the emotional trauma of witnessing her father in a helpless state before her brother needed a glass of orange juice and her sister needed her diaper changed. Today, that 15 year old girl is in college.
Mrs. Obama learned of a nurse that quit her job to care for her brother that lost both his legs and needed rehabilitation. She learned of a working military spouse with two children that endured five deployments and eight moves since the towers fell. She learned of a relapsing cancer survivor that struggled to survive while her husband was in Afghanistan and the military spouse that was nearly deported while her husband was in Iraq.
A majority of the issues military spouses face, as a result of multiple deployments and moves, is stability for their children and employment. Many employers see multiple jobs or gaps in employment history as red flags, when a sketchy job history is a fact of military life. Some children also respond poorly to the multiple moves and lack of stability.
However, the real lesson Mrs. Obama learned was that the struggles endured by so many military families made them stronger individuals.
“These aren’t stories of sadness,” she said. “They’re stories of success, triumph and coming together and unifying. These are the stories the country needs to be motivated by.”
I met my military spouse 42 days before September 11, 2001. We married in November 2003, 17 days before I was dispatched to the Korean Peninsula for one year and one week. In our seven and a half years of marriage, we have physically lived together for four years. We have endured together and in the process we have grown together. She is my hero and there is no one I admire more than my wife, Kimberly. I thank her for serving with me, but I don’t thank her enough.
While May 6th was Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we need to remember that all military families struggle during this difficult period in human history. They are the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, and daughters. They are the CEOs, accountants, police officers and nurses. They are the community organizers, bake sale participants and the students. They are the one percent. I thank all the military families for their service and for taking this journey with us. God speed.