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Are MilSpouses Entitled to Anything?

A male military spouse was recently stranded in Hawaii after he was denied boarding for a military hop on its way to Japan because his name was on the “no-fly” list. He had gotten as far as the island in an attempt to visit his Japan-based wife. He was not accused of any crime, just listed by Homeland Security as not permitted to fly. After a few days he was removed from the list without explanation.

I can imagine how this would go for me. “But I’m a military spouse!” I would be tempted to say. “I have a DoD ID! And I’m on my way to see my spouse who I haven’t seen in oh, so long. Because he’s serving. So pretty, pretty please, let me on that plane.”

“Military spouse” means I’m trustworthy, right? It means I’m serving my country by supporting a war fighter, right? And it definitely means I don’t belong on the no-fly list … right?

Which all sounds great, until the agent says “that doesn’t matter,” and walks away.

Because when it comes down to it, being a military spouse doesn’t actually make me all that special.

We’ve talked about this before here on SpouseBuzz: being a military spouse does not mean you are entitled to jack diddly squat. Or even that you’re extra awesome. Or even that you’re trustworthy.

It just means that you married someone in the military. So congrats on that!

Which is sad. Because I like feeling special.

I’ll admit it: not feeling entitled is something of a battle — because it’s easy for me to slip into feeling like I am. Just to be clear: I know I’m not entitled, but it’s easy to feel like I am.

Maybe it’s that society has taught us to be that way by their generosity towards military families, or that we see our spouse on the receiving end of the gift of thanks and it’s so easy to think “hey, thank me, too!” After all, I am the one who stays home alone with screaming children for months on end while he does the country’s bidding, right? I am the one who has to deal with appliances that magically break for absolutely no reason the moment he gets on a plane.

But this is the beauty of an all-volunteer force and the glorious, free country in which we live: my husband chose to be in the military and I chose to be a military spouse. I am owed nothing. I am entitled to nothing.

Spouses who forget these facts are not just irritating — they make the rest of us look bad. Every year during the Sears Heroes at Home registration, a small but vocal group make a scene, complaining that the system is down and forgetting that none of this is something they deserve. And it’s embarrassing to the those who see these gift drives as a humbling reminder that America has not forgotten our families.

Since we last wrote about this issue we have seen the support from the White House towards military families in the form of “Joining Forces” increase. We have seen society step-up to give military families a helping hand. Every week we receive casting calls and inquiries from producers looking to feature military families, often just to thank them for what they do. I’d say military family support is even at a recent history high.

But we must be careful lest the feelings of entitlement rise along with it.

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.