Every year I feel like I write a post like this, whether here or on other outlets that I write for (like this one on Homefront United Network). Seriously, it boggles the mind that this is even still a discussion but it seems as if several times a year I come across someone saying, or writing, something about this topic that makes my blood boil. Yet again I run across someone talking about how the National Guard isn’t the Military or “its just not the same,” or my absolutely favorite “there ARE some National Guard and Reserve spouses who qualify (as milspouses).” What?! I can’t even people, I mean seriously. In this day in age, after this many years of war why say things like this?
The last one most recently was a blogger. There was so much within me that just wanted to word vomit all over this person. Her struggle, while specifically her family’s transition from full-time to a traditional Guardsman, was real it just kept coming across terribly. These are real people that are being talked about and the words can hurt. It’s not even this specific case because I know it was part personal, and part a full lack of understanding. But its this line of thinking that concerns me. It’s what I constantly feel I am fighting in any advocacy I do. If this is how people begin to view, or keep on viewing us, we will continue to be in serious trouble. One of the most disturbing things about this is one phrase spoken to me, that continues to stand out to me this day. “Well, when your husband deploys you’ll get lots of support.” For one, that makes me laugh because if they don’t know I’m here when I’m actually here, how will they know I’m there when he’s gone?” So many organizations are unaware or don’t know what to do with singular Guard families, or ones that are remotely located, who are seeking help. This also bothers me because in the Active Duty world (that I had been a part of up until recently) you can receive support and help any day of the week, whether your husband deploys frequently, ever, or regardless of the type of job you have. For the most part I can access many things because I’m close to a base, but there are still lots of things that are unavailable to me. And its not like I can get a “my husband’s civilian career is just like his military career” waiver.
It’s not even about the things. I don’t need a baby shower, or a free Christmas tree, or school supplies for my kids. It’s the respect and the understanding. If you can so flippantly suggest that not all National Guard/Reserve Spouses are military spouses then that is concerning. I can admit that I struggle with the transition myself. I don’t see my husband in his uniform as often as I once did, and I don’t have “unit or squadron” friends. But its still a part of my identity. No one, even a full-time military spouse should let that be the only part of your identity, but no matter how big or little a role it plays it is still a part of who you are.
So, if you are reading this and struggling with this very thing, don’t. YOU ARE a military spouse, no matter if he puts on that uniform every day, on a weekend here and there. Whether he’s a pilot, in medical, admin or finance. No matter what that is still a part of your identity and you should be proud. This is something your spouse volunteered for, and you as well. No matter the involvement your spouse is still important and is valued by many people. You are valued, and so is your family. Thank you for your service, no matter what that looks like.