I’ve been an army wife for 9 years this month. I’ve moved, I’ve sent my husband off to war, I’ve parented alone more nights than I ever thought I could, and up until a few weeks ago, I was happy. I loved this life, I loved the pride that swells in my heart each time I see my husband in uniform. I loved the stolen moments we got when I brought him lunch or dinner on those long days.
Two years ago, there was a series of confessions articles published by Military Spouse and one of them was by the weary military spouse; one who was tired, worn out, exhausted and over it. At that point I couldn’t even understand what she was talking about. I was happily working part-time, volunteering, and loving my husband being home for dinner more times than not. I thought she was crazy.
But now, I get it. I’m over it, too.
So what happened? What happened in the last two years to make me go from loving the army wife life to dreading the next thing that comes down the pipe? The long hours are one thing, and usually doable. But coupled with a grumpy Soldier who feels like he’s got no support, my support as a wife becomes very difficult.
I learned early on not to insult the Army. By insulting the Army (whether it was being particularly dumb that day or not) I was insulting my husband’s chosen lifestyle. And that is a big no-no. So, while I am mad at the Army right now, I am genuinely trying to let it know how I feel in a respectful and constructive manner.
Army, are you listening?
I feel forgotten. I feel under-appreciated. I feel taken advantage of. And while I’m not the one who enlisted and swore myself to service, I’m here. I’ve been here for 9 years. I’ve been beside my husband, most of the time with minimal complaints, and supported him in whatever he’s wanted to do.
But now, I feel like everyone has forgotten that. Army leadership, down to the most basic company level, has forgotten about
us. Family programs are being cut, spouses are turning on each other over petty things, and the American public has forgotten that there are still wars being fought. And I’m not alone in this.
My husband reenlisted last year indefinitely. We’re “stuck.” Last year I was thrilled about it. This is what we wanted, this was the life we made and we were embracing it. Now, if we had the decision to make again, I wouldn’t be quite as enthusiastic. But they have us, we’re here.
So here’s my question: How are we supposed to support our service members when we aren’t getting the simple, little things that we were promised?
Here are just a few of the things that are making spouses feel this way:
- Waiting 3+ hours in line for prescriptions to be filled at on post pharmacies.
- Fighting for paternity leave for our husbands when the unit is not deployed, nor in the field.
- Worrying about retention, since the quality management boards are meeting annually.
- Getting frustrated when promotions slow to a standstill in some jobs.
- Childcare unavailability and the hoops we jump through to register them for childcare at each installation.
- The seemingly constant uniform changes. (Because we really want to have more pairs of green socks, in various shades.
So, Army, now that you know, what are we going to do about? It’s not just me, but a lot of spouses who are feeling this way. And I’d wager a guess it’s not just Army spouses either. This life is not getting easier. We were willing to put up with a lot while at war. For 15 years we’ve put up with a lot. But now, when war is slowing down (maybe) we are still facing budget cuts, pay cuts, pink slips, and reduced family programs.
It’s time, Army, to focus on what is going to keep good, honest, hard-working, knowledgeable Soldiers and leaders in the Army. With that comes keeping families happy, or at least not miserable. The old adage, “happy wife, happy life,” isn’t irrelevant these days. When families are making decisions about the future, a happy family ranks high on the list of considerations.
Written by a weary, Army wife. One waiting to make some changes, willing to talk to people to find out what is going on and what we can change. One who desperately wants to make this fun and exciting again, to show younger spouses what this life could be like, and to once again say I am a happy to be an Army wife.