Post Memorial Day Gripe for Military Spouses

Okay, we’ve honored our husbands. Now where’s the honor for us?

Our men (and women) do a lot to keep us safe, but military spouses are here to make certain that they have something to come home to. While our husbands are often honored – Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day – we have one lousy holiday decreed in 1984 by Ronald Reagan to celebrate the sacrifices of the military family. It’s the Friday before Mother’s Day every year, which implies — correct me if I’m wrong — that our real value is as mothers to our husband’s children (sorry, male spouses, you apparently don’t count). They could have chosen Valentine’s Day, don’t you think? And it’s rolled into the other military holidays of May, as part of [sarcasm] the widely-observed Armed Forces Appreciation Month.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I rarely feel appreciated by the military. Rather, I feel like an unwanted appendage. We’re expected to show up for all the special events the command throws, but I’d be surprised if anyone outside the six people my husband’s had over as guests so much as knows my first name.

For my Spouse Appreciation Day appreciatory gift, I got a “Certificate of Appreciation.” It is on resume paper, printed on a relatively poor-quality laser printer, and it got here to me, hand-delivered by my husband, almost two full weeks after Military Spouse Appreciation Day was celebrated. It’s even hand-dated 17 May, five days after Spouse Appreciation Day was observed this year; I guess the OIC couldn’t be bothered to look up the actual date of Spouse Appreciation Day.

At least my name is spelled correctly.

But this is my point: spouses don’t get respect. We keep our husbands together and organized. We perform tons of free work for military members, from stitching emblems on uniforms to taking care of all the errands so he can stay on base or on ship and not worry about the car, the kids, insurance, or any other piece of life’s minutiae. We are expected to volunteer and make food for special events. We uproot our own lives to follow our spouses around the world. We make some serious sacrifices so that the military can run smoothly.

And my husband’s OIC can’t get it together to appreciate us on the one day out of 365 that we’re supposed to be appreciated?

To add injury to insult, the base daycare was closed on Spouse Appreciation Day. So basewide, appreciation was shown to our military spouses – by forcing those who were mothers to scramble to find daycare, or to stay home from work to care for children, risking the loss of a hard-won job. Thanks, Subase Groton!

There are hundreds of little – and big – issues like this that add stress to the life of a military spouse, which they often have to absorb on their own to reduce stress on the military member. But to be fair, there are also some wonderful things about the military lifestyle for which I’m grateful.

So next blog, I promise to talk about the great things.