Friday, May 1, 2009

Military spouse appreciation day

I hope both my readers spent today appreciating me -- today has been declared "Military Spouse Appreciation Day."

I guess I always have to be the contrarian, but I'm really not much for these sorts of observances. I know I'm appreciated by the folks who matter -- my wife, the rest of our family and my wife's shipmates/chain of command. I'm grateful for the sentiments of outsiders, but from my point of view there's nothing notable about raising our kid, supporting my wife and enabling her to achieve her ambitions. It's really just the bare minimum any responsible, loving person would do for their spouse.

No matter how difficult it might be to be separated, I'm not the one living in an enclosed space with 3000 strangers and not touching land for 6-9 months while being shot at. I know civilian couples who work more difficult schedules and endure weekly or monthly separations for business-related travel, some of them for less money than Ruth makes. I feel like we've got it pretty good: I make no money whatsoever, but she has a secure job that pays well enough (with some budgeting and planning, of course) for us to live out our values and she still comes home 7 nights out of 10 saying "I have the coolest job!"

I know not every military spouse feels this way and we are far happier about our situation than a lot of people in the military community -- so a happy Military Spouse day and THANK YOU to all those spouses for whom the military lifestyle is one of endurance, rather than enjoyment.

For those outside the community, wondering what "Appreciation" might mean in practice, beyond just one day of words, Leanne at has 101 great ideas that don't neglect the male spouse.

My own thoughts about meaningful, ongoing ways to recognize the sacrifices of the spouse:

If you run a business that offers a military discount, offer the same discount to dependents. Her money is my money, so it's frustrating when a discount is only available to my wife who is so often away. Kudos to companies who DO recognize this reality and give the same treatment to servicemembers and their dependents, like USAA, Choice Hotels and Southwest Airlines.

Give of your time or money to the organizations supporting wounded soldiers and their families. They are the ones who have really had their lives turned upside down as a result of military service, and all indications are that the unconventional nature of this war and advances in battlefield medicine will leave our veterans with thousands upon thousands of permanent injuries that no one expected.

...and if you could do one thing for me today, stop asking my son where his mommy is at, as if I'm a stranger he was abandoned with. A post about this coming up later in the weekend...


erik said...

I believe USAA started out as an insurance company just for those in the military.

People making those "where's mommie" comments aren't just insensitive. They are ignorant.

Thomas Litchford said...

Yeah, I'm dying to read the rest of that story. I haven't heard one of those comments, yet, but I've had plenty of the "Shouldn't you have a hat on?" variety. Once, at the grocery store, Sean was crying because he was hungry, and I was peeling an orange for him. An elderly woman (and, sorry to generalize, but aren't they always elderly women?) behind us in line said to him, "Aw, is your daddy eating in front of you?" Like I was taunting him with it, or something.

Megan said...

You are so right that spouses should get the same privledges and discounts as the servicemember. I've always thought that too, although I was never married while in the military. I also think that in some cases, the fiance or significant other should get to participate too. Ski resorts, for example, often offer great rates on lift tickets. When Eric and I would go skiing, I'd be the one with the good paying job who got the discount, but poor Eric, who was living off pennies so he could be free to follow me around the country, got no discount. Yes, military husbands, boyfriends, and fiances, make HUGE, life sacrifices, and should be recognized for that too.