Many people think that the life of the Coast Guard wife is easy. In fact, wives from other branches of the military even look down on us. They think that we have it easier than they do. Most of their husbands are deployed overseas for a year or more at a time. Their husbands are in a war zone every day and they worry about them all the time. Many of them do not even consider Coast Guard wives as fellow military spouses, because our life is so different from those of other branches.
The Coast Guard is different. Our lives are different from theirs at times. It is run differently and we have different missions from the other branches. However, our lives are not as different as people think they are. Sure, if our husbands head out to serve in the Middle East, they volunteered for it. But, if they go, they are gone for a year just like the others who are sent over. They may be protecting the shorelines when they get there, but they are still in danger all the time; just like the others are.
A common misconception about the Coast Guard life is that our husbands are always home. The past ten plus years of my life says something very different about that. Are the members of the Coast Guard stateside most of the time? Yes, they are. That does not mean they’re home. The Coast Guard has Cutters that deploy for two or three months at time. They have others that are out for six months at time. Even on land based units, their duty schedules often keep them away from home. Many weeks we are lucky to see them two days out of the seven.
The biggest difference in our lives compared to other military wives, is the “enemy.” Most of the other branches are deployed to fight a physical enemy; one they can see and know how to fight. For the Coast Guard, their most common “enemy” is Mother Nature. How can you fight Mother Nature? The short answer is you cannot. Their job is to go out in seas and weather that other people are encouraged to stay home during. In much the same way a firefighter will run into a burning building that others are running out of, the Coast Guard goes out into storms that others seek shelter from.
The Coast Guard is not a combat oriented service. They are a lifesaving service. They have many missions, but their main one is to save lives. As the spouse of a Coastie, we may not have to worry about them being blown up by an IED or shot by a sniper, we still worry though. We have to force ourselves not to worry most of the time. They cannot control the winds or the seas and neither can we. We know that when the call comes, they will respond even if Mother Nature is pushing them back. It is the unconquerable enemy.
We may have different concerns and worries, but we still have them. We still get out of bed every day and live our lives. We go about our day to day activities and try not to think about what our husbands are doing when they put on their uniforms and walk out the front door. As Coast Guard wives we are proud of the differences, but military spouses are all the same in the end. We all get lonely, we all worry.
Some days the simple act of them putting that uniform on can be heart breaking. We have all had to fight back the tears as they lace up their boots. We have all had to smile so they will not see our pain. We have all had to be strong at times it seems impossible to be. We all have the same ultimate goal, support our husbands and hold down the home front while they do what they serve our country. We may be different, but deep down we all struggle and sacrifice in the same way.