Often life as a military spouse is filled with setbacks, challenges and sacrifices. Military spouse resumes often show the footprint of their soldier’s career. While your Soldier rises in the ranks, and works toward retirement, you are left to pick up the scraps. While the country usually stands behind the soldier and appreciates their sacrifices, they don’t always turn the other cheek with the spouse. Instead when looking at candidates some view spouses as a vulnerability, whether they admit it or not.
When my husband and I were stationed in Italy, while completing my graduate school, I took whatever job I could get. This meant that I worked at the art center completing tasks from framing Dietz pictures to organizing kids birthday parties. Having a bachelor’s degree in hand, and a master’s degree on the way just wasn’t enough. I felt sorry for myself, even if I didn’t admit it. While I was finger painting, and blowing up balloons, my soldier was continuing his path toward his career. The same marriage in the civilian world would have been completely different.
One afternoon I was talking with a coworker. We lightly made jokes and passed the time. Then she shared with me her background. She is a practicing lawyer, with her own firm. When her husband came down on orders, she was told she would have a position in her field awaiting her in Italy. What was actually waiting for her was a position at the arts center. All this time I was feeling sorry for myself and all my underused talent and experience, while here she was working alongside me without complaint.
That moment opened my eyes and reminded me what was important. While military spouses don’t get the best end of the deal, we do get a lot of experiences that others in the civilian world don’t. I can proudly say that I have traveled throughout Italy, France, Germany and Europe. The food and culture made up for a lot of the stresses of my job.
Other benefits aren’t so black and white. I grew up with a rescue helicopter pilot for a father. His unit’s moto was “That others may live.” This wasn’t just a saying that gets you free drinks at a bar. This was a literal representation of my father’s commitment to our nation. On my 10th birthday, before I had even woke up, my father was out rescuing a child and his family who’s plane had crashed on the edge of a mountain. My father and his team had all agreed with the risks involved, and had made peace with the fact that they might not come home.
This is the unspoken part of being a military child or spouse. I didn’t fully understand until, I was much older, the implications of that creed. This is why there is a pride instilled in me anytime I talk about him. Seeing my own children experience this, themselves is something that I cannot even place into words. My husband not only provides for our family, but he does what not all men can. My husband’s airborne motto is “Death from Above.” After 911 most of us were proud to be associated with an army that could avenge our fallen. As a spouse I would lie if I said these mottos don’t tug on my heartstrings, but they also fill me with pride.
I am thrilled to be associated with such excellent men who would sacrifice the comfort of their home, their holidays with their families, and their lives if needed. Your average civilian accountant can’t say that. So while I might have to sacrifice my career, and some life goals, I will no longer complain because I have what others can never take away from me, and what most never get to experience. I have a spouse that I can be proud of, everything else is only temporary.