Recently, while out to eat with my Family, I was confronted with how others perceive me as a military spouse, and what being a military spouse implies to some about my person.
A server returned a check containing my military ID and asked if the man sitting across from me with our child was “the” service member. Usually, we don’t even ask about a discount.
This is an establishment we had frequented, and on occasion without being asked, servers applied a very respectable discount to our check; my husband does not put off an even remotely civilian vibe. The server ignored me and walked off with my husband’s military identification.
I felt marginalized, embarrassed, angry and confused.
It speaks to my point that I even feel the need to qualify this story with my personal credentials.
Currently, I am a college graduate, I work a full-time job, run a small business, am a mother and a wife. I like to think of myself as independent and self-sufficient.
Despite these “qualifiers,” it appears, others assumed I am “here for the TRICARE and the BAH (basic allowance for housing).” I have at points during our nearly 10 years of marriage, and his nearly eight years of service, been a stay at home mom as well.
No matter our journey, our paths are the same. Working out of the home or in, we deal with a variety of challenging circumstances as military spouses, and should be afforded some level of respect.
As a military spouse, “I” and “we,” such simple words, can be fraught with complexity and judgement. I have no desire for my spouse’s glory. I do not presume to absorb my spouse’s honor, and I am not a military service member.
However, we do an awful lot in tandem. We move together, we bank together, we decide together, and despite how unpopular the concept can be, we sacrifice together through his service of our country.
When someone thanks a service member for their sacrifice while looking down on their spouse, there is a problem. The “dependa” stereotype is damaging to the perception of all military Families, and honestly, it’s simply degrading and ignorant.
I challenge you all to think critically before passing judgement on any military spouse.