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Twenty-one years ago, I met the guy I was going to marry. He was a cadet at Virginia Military Institute and I was a student at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. While all my college friends planned to take over the world, they scoffed at the military spouse stereotype, folding brown t-shirts and matching up green socks.
Flash forward to present day, I am folding shirts, now different shades of brown, and I attempt to pair up green socks. But now, I have the knowledge that being a military spouse is so much more than laundry.
What it means to be a military spouse has evolved over the years. Spouses are wives, husbands, or partners. They are mothers and fathers. Today’s spouses are actively engaged in volunteer opportunities on installations, schools, and the greater community, while a higher number of spouses have at-home businesses, work from home, telecommute, or are full-time career professionals.
No need to recount the many roles military spouses have taken on the last 15 years since 9/11. We can take on any challenge thrown at us. Carrying the load of deployments and separations has become the “normal” for us. There is a new humorous blog post once a week on Facebook about our frustrations or military life in general. Finding the silver lining in all our roles as military spouses is what we do best.
But why do we do what we do? We support, contribute, and sacrifice to make our homes and communities better places. We do it not because it is expected of us, but because we know that our role, how little or big, can help shape the greater community around us. We don’t do it for recognition. We do it because we have been taught by our predecessors that the roots of the military stay strong because of the strength of the entire military family. We do it with a friendly smile and open hearts because we enjoy giving back and it allows us to leave our footprints for others to follow. We support our service member by supporting the institution they love.
The face of the military spouse may have changed over the years, but the traditional meaning remains visible in communities across the world. We are military spouses. We have become part of the greater military team. Always ready to move, always ready to volunteer, always ready to meet new friends, always ready to help a neighbor, always ready for the new adventure; always ready for more.
Military spouses are the strength of a military home; the community in which they live.
In 1984, President Reagan, created the Military Spouse Appreciation Day which is celebrated every Friday before Mother’s Day. The day is to help recognize the personal and professional commitment and sacrifice spouses make to support their service member and the military way of life.
At the recent Carlisle Barrack’s Spouses Club end-of-year Board party, Outgoing President, Janell Coker, said the reason why military spouses commit to this life, “is because what we are doing today, makes it better for those who come after us.”
So I might not be taking over the world and I might be folding t-shirts and matching up socks, but I am doing it while supporting my service member and contributing to a community that gives back to my family as much as I give to it.
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Letter from the Director
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