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Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Why does this holiday exist?

May 17, 2017

With Military Spouse Appreciation Day approaching, I asked; what is it about this niche group of people that earns them a holiday?

         “Stressful” is a word that comes to mind when thinking about the lifestyle of a military spouse. One might be quick to point out that everyone has stress. The challenges of a military life create a unique family environment remarkably different from the average American.

         Spouses of all genders leave the comforts of home to head into the unknown. They accompany significant others who have stressful careers. So “stressful” in fact that Forbes magazine reported,” the most stressful job in 2016 is that of an enlisted military member.”

         Being a military spouse isn’t always a glamorous life. Whether it’s deployments, moving either to a new state or new country every few years, or saying goodbye to the friends, you just made, being married to the military is, to say the least, tough.

         Ryan Dunblazier, a current Pierce College student and former Specialist in the United States Army, is currently a military spouse. His wife Crystal made the transition from civilian spouse to active duty military after he separated from the service. 

         When asked about which side is more difficult, spouse or soldier, Ryan replied,” From a family side it (military spouse) can be tough. I didn’t realize how much my wife did while I was in. After seeing everything that needs to be done I almost lost my shit!”

         Almost losing one’s shit seems to be a common occurrence amongst military spouses. Heather Armour, a lifelong military spouse, gives some insight on how to survive in this environment.

          “Some spouses never know anything about military life other than what they’ve seen in the movies, and they thrive. This is because they participate, they contribute, and they excel.” The old saying, it takes a village, rings true in the military community.

         Billions of dollars are spent annually on programs to assist families in the military worldwide. While a large percentage of that is on healthcare and housing; other family programs are threatened by budget cuts and force restructure.

         These programs are essential to cultivating a sense of normality in an abnormal environment. Other programs available to family members, according to armymwr.com, include travel, intramural sports, child and youth services, and outdoor recreation.

         Melanie Simpson, a military spouse and wife of Professor John Simpson adds some further perspective about the difficulties of being married to the military. “can be difficult, but people are more aware of the lifestyle nowadays than my parents’ generation.”

         Spouses who come from a military family background seems to make the transition to military spouse a little easier. Heather Armour says, “These spouses come from a military family or military career and bring a wealth of knowledge and information to share.”

         Melanie Simpson, when asked if she thinks the programs and resources available today correlate to the broader understanding of military life, stated. “Most definitely compared to a generation ago.”

         No matter what background a military spouse originates from, help is available to spouses in all branches. With the right perspective, being a military spouse has benefits beyond compare.

         Being part of something bigger than one’s self makes such sacrifices worthwhile. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is the least we can do because military spouses deserve thanks every day of the year.

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