When I entered the military culture, I was inspired to learn the diverse stories of military spouses. I met entrepreneurs, students, professionals, mothers, fathers and spouses from dual-service couples. I heard about struggles, extreme loss and triumph against all odds. Soon, I realized that the military spouse lifestyle is hallmarked by two distinct factors: diversity and adversity.
If you’re a military spouse, you get it. If you aren’t, it can be tough to figure out how to show your support. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a great time to advocate for the military spouses around you.
Why does Military Spouse Appreciation Day matter?
Many of the struggles that military spouses face are largely invisible to, or misunderstood by, our civilian communities. Loneliness, loss, worry and constant change are realistically a part of the military spouse’s everyday life. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a time to recognize the positive impacts that military spouses make against tough odds.
When my spouse was overseas for 15 months, I realized that my time supporting him in his military career had actually changed me. Behind my own back, I had developed a special set of skills that my civilian peers couldn’t understand. My autonomy, emotional strengths and weaknesses perplexed those around me.
During that time, I was living in a civilian culture again for the first time in a long time. I quickly realized that my civilian peers did not understand the nuances of the military lifestyle. Fortunately, I had been steeped in the resilience that originally inspired me when I entered the military culture. Today, I continually learn from the diversity of military spouses and their resilience in adversity.
A message to military spouses
It’s tough to appreciate your strengths when you’re just trying to make it through everyday life. Plus, you might not like giving yourself a big pat on the back. If you’re like many spouses, you don’t like recognition for your role as a military spouse. Still, reflecting on your contributions doesn’t detract from your service member’s contributions – your role matters.
Also, remember to be kind to your fellow military spouses today and every day. No one else quite understands the grit that runs through the veins of military families like we do.
A message to military spouse supporters
Many spouses don’t show their vulnerabilities – especially during deployments. Why? Safety and independence. When my spouse was overseas, I barely told anyone. For safety reasons, I didn’t want people to know that I lived alone. Plus, I didn’t want people’s pity.
Showing your support for this group can be as simple as reaching out to say “hello.” Connect, even if you don’t fully “get it.” You can make a world of difference with a shared meal, a phone call or a card.
A final word to all
On Military Spouse Appreciation Day, take a minute to recognize military spouse diversity and resilience in adversity. Military spouses make a huge difference in the lives and readiness of troops. Plus, they impact professional and local communities across the nation and the world. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, military spouses live out unconditional love and support within their homes and communities. That makes a difference no matter how you slice it.
This year on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I will choose to recognize the contributions of the spouses around me. I hope you do too.