Photo Courtesy of: Wayne Perry
Over the last decade our military has been used at its highest levels in decades. We have again found our appreciation for the men and women who serve and sacrifice so much to defend not only the people of our nation, but people all over the world. We have come a long way from the times during the 1970’s when our military personnel were not respected nearly as much as they are today. As the wars in the Middle East have gone on, many families have been impacted tremendously on quite a few different levels. These wars have caused our service men and women to not just deploy once, but in some cases, several times in a short time frame, and finally are being given the respect due to them.
As highlighted by President Obama’s pledge for the government to stand behind not only the soldiers but their families as well in a more active role. Deployments bring with them many hardships. Not only for those who are serving, but for those they leave behind as well. Through social networking I have seen firsthand the struggles some of these families face. In particular the struggles the military spouse’s face (MILspouse for the rest of this article); the night’s of loneliness, day’s that seem to last forever, children who miss their parent and act out in one way or another, decision’s that impact the entire family being left for one of the two spouse’s who normally have a say as well as many other trials.
One of the proudest things about serving or having a spouse who serves is you are immediately included into the “family”. There are people everywhere you turn willing to lend a hand, ear or shoulder for those who carry the burden that so few do when they sign on the dotted line, giving their life over to the United States military. There certainly isn’t a shortage on a military installation of people who are willing to stand beside those who have a loved one deployed. In particular there is the group known as “The Silent Ranks”. These special people are the people who make up the “other” half of our married service men or women. Typically these are women who make up these ranks. And generally speaking, the more time in and higher rank a service member is the more useful and influential their spouse can be. These people are “motherly” figures to those of us like me who are babies in this family.
As these wars have continued on over the last decade and people began to pay more attention to the emotional and psychological effects that are related to these extended deployment’s as well as periods of time spent training in the field, more and more attention has been brought to the struggles that the families face. “The Silent Ranks” have become so popular; they even have their own TV program on the Lifetime Network called Army Wives. Just like the show’s motto, these spouses’s believe “the (insert branch here) has their code; we have a code of our own”. If you drive around a military installation you are bound to find a bumper sticker that will say something to that effect. Or even one that may read “don’t confuse your rank with my authority”. There are many phrases and puns that make “The Silent Ranks” almost seem like they really do have their own code. I have heard on numerous occasions from people who actually hold authoritive positions within the true ranks of the military, “the toughest job in the (insert branch here) is being a MILspouse”. Sure it doesn’t have near the same occupational hazards that our service men and women have, but it does have some unique characteristics that can almost make a statement like that seem true.
As MILspouses we have nothing to gain. There are no promotions or promotion points to work towards, there is not a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) barking in our ear with a direction or a word of encouragement as we go through our day. Yet we still have committed our lives and invested almost as much as our spouse who serves. So the only thing we do have is each other. When a spouse is deployed and the kitchen is flooding, the animals are sick, the kids won’t listen, the car is stuttering, the bills are mounting and the groceries still need to be bought, we are typically able to call on each other. Well, at least that’s the way it is supposed to be. Generally speaking “The Silent Ranks” are that “go to gal” for other ladies who are dealing with the stresses of being married to someone in the military.
As I traverse through the wonderful world of social networking I sometimes wish all mankind was as generous and willing to help and share as that of this military community, maybe we wouldn’t need our spouses deployed. On a nearly daily basis I am able to bear witness to positive and encouraging words as well as people acting selflessly to help others out, often times to near strangers. The common bond of MILspouses makes so few a strangers within this circle. But I am finding there to be one circle within this circle that is sometimes overlooked, and that would be us male MILspouses…..