How to Make Civilians Understand Us


They say “Thank you for your service.”  They say “Thank you for your sacrifices.” They say “I could never do what you are doing.”  Civilians are all too eager to express their gratitude and appreciation, but no one is willing to dig deeper and to learn more about us — military families.

But why do they do so little to improve their understanding of our way of life? Why do so few outside of the military know about military families?

Is it because less than one percent of the U.S. population currently meets the definition of being military personnel? Is it because anything military isn’t hip enough? Or is it simply because nobody cares about the military any more?

I believe so little is known about us simply because people don’t realize that our lives are so very different from their own. And if people are not aware of the existence of such differences, they can’t inquire and learn more about them.

For those with little or no personal exposure to the military, I believe that we need to foster awareness of our existence.  And we need some sort of medium that helps diminish common misconceptions that currently exist and that are being reinforced by shows like Army Wives.

But will the civilian world listen? How will we get complete strangers to care about us? The answer: let’s try to start approaching and strengthening the bond to the non-military world via those we already share a connection with — our civilian families and friends.

Military families need support, no matter how strong we think we are; support, especially from our own non-military friends and extended families. We love them. We want them to be part of our lives. We want them to understand our way of life.

And that’s why we have to nourish this connection by helping them to learn more about us. That’s why we have to bring our way of life a bit closer to all our loved ones.

While we might not get a complete stranger to listen to us, let’s try to obtain an open ear from our very own families and friends within the civilian world. Let’s educate them about military life. Let’s educate them about us — military families.

And who knows; increased understanding among those we love might broaden and extend to an increased understanding among all those our military protects.

Yvonne Jones is a military spouse of 13 years and counting, who has moved nationally and internationally more than 10 times since the military became part of her life.  After years of direct contact, experience and research in the field at hand, she knows the ins and outs of the issues covered in Closing The Gap: Understanding Your Service(wo)man, a book that is meant to reconnect Military Families with their non-military friends and family members by helping civilians learn more about the life within the Military. 

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92 Comments on "How to Make Civilians Understand Us"

  1. Why is it so important that "civilians" understand us? What are you hoping to get from it? You do realize that we, as military spouses, are civilians. We are to blame for whatever supposed divide exists. This is how I see my life: I take care of my family, I take care of my household, and I volunteer to have further purpose in my life. The fact that I am married to someone in the military does not prevent me from any of those activities. I would do them regardless of my husband's occupation. Granted, due to frequent separations, I often do those things without him but there are other occupations in which the spouse is frequently away from home.
    I do not know the difficulties inherent in being married to someone who is a deep sea fisherman or a person who works on an oil rig in the ocean. I don't need to know what the families go through so why do people need to know what my family goes through? We are not that different. We all have the same emotions and we all have to deal with life's challenges. Maybe if we stopped dwelling on all the differences and how we believe we go through so much more than anyone else, maybe we wouldn't feel like outsiders in the general population.

    • I totally agree! I really don't understand the point of this article.

    • I am a career coach that has had a military member in my family since Vietnam (brother, niece/nephew) but never a spouse. When our parish priest enlisted as a Chaplain after 911, we created a support organization for him. I believe military families do have exceptional 'separation" and 'transition" circumstances and for Army, Marines (mostly) and some Navy, deployment separation with the possibility of injury or death. Therefore, I have begun to focus on a coaching program that is built around the spectrum of "separation and transition"–which includes transition out of the military in some cases. I'm not sure working to gain understanding of civilians is as important as focusing on the unique transitions that face service members and their families–that's where I focus. Again, I've never been a military spouse or service member myself, but my brother, nieces and now my son and daughter-in-law are active military–so I've seen the challenges up close and have dedicated my practice to developing programs that use the best of my civilian career/employment coaching experiences to help service members and their families grow from the many transitions they will experience.

    • This article mentioned "MILITARY FAMILIES" 4 times. Not once did it mention "MILITARY SPOUSES." Not once. So why does the majority of attackers here keep on mentioning military spouses? It's not about YOU. It's about MILITARY FAMILIES, which include the Service Member, the Military Spouse, and the Military Child. For heaven's sake, get off your high horses, ladies! By trying to convince everyone that you don't want any special treatment, you completely miss the point of the article and make yourselves, as spouses, the center of attention. And nobody seems to notice.

    • Not outsiders, just strangers from our families. Despite all we've done to keep our ourselves and our kids connected to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, there's not one (connection). We took all our vacations to go home to visit family. Most of the time, they'll only take one day to visit with us. However, on their vacation time, they go to Florida or the likes. The only time that family truly cared about taking their time to visit us was when we were stationed in Puerto Rico and they needed a free place to stay and someone to play tour guide. I think what the author is saying here is that our family situation is unique and that a lot of us need compassion and understanding to help through tough times, sad times, reintergration, etc. We don't get to put down roots in the traditional sense so we want connection roots. That's all.

    • bonecrusherdej | March 3, 2013 at 3:17 am |

      As an American Soldier who is getting ready for deployment, seeing your post just makes me even more determined to do my best because as Americans we are strong!!!! I lost my little sister to brain cancer when she was 5 and I was only 8. It was our friends and family that supported us through it and my parents never looked outside for support or expected it. 5 years later my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and fought that battle from 1986 until 2008 and we dealt with it because of family and friends. By the way my grandfather served in WW2 and was injured and my father was drafted during the Vietnam era which is just a side note. My father's last 5 years he was bedridden and thankfully being a veteran we were able to get some home healthcare aid which helped me out quite a few times. The point being, is that life is just rough sometimes and everyone's situation is different and unless you've been through it or are going through it, your just not going to be able to understand. Unlike an illness that was just thrust upon us we chose to be soldiers and were aware of the possible consequences and sacrifices we would have to make. For the injured soldiers or those that have lost their lives I understand people's cry for awareness and action to be taken so our Veterans are taken care of. However, if you already know what you are getting into then that's on you and not on anyone else!!!!!

    • Carol Overbey | March 6, 2013 at 9:37 am |

      I am in total agreement, the only difference I have found during my 27 years of marriage to my now retired Army SSG, is that I may have moved a few more times than some of my friends. But they have also moved from where they grew up to go where the job was. That is no different than my moving. His job was somewhere else. If I dwelled on how different my life was compared to those of the friends I have made outside of the military, I wouldn't have those same friends now!! Stay strong!

  2. Maybe because I'm a newbie and have yet to PCS or anything like that, but I don't feel any different than any civilian and I find that your assumption that you are different just irks me! Your SO is the military member, not you, so you should not be expecting special treatment from anyone. Also, if you need help or are pissed off at someone for being a douche, just say so! Never expect special treatment! You need to let your needs be known b/c if you don't, how the hell is anyone supposed to know!!!!!! Yes, my boyfriend is Navy and yes that means long separations and a host of other headaches, but I'm never going to assume that anyone understands my life as they're not the ones living it!!!! It's blog articles like this that make me want to distance myself from the military SO community.

    • AMEN! I might be dating the Navy, but I am not a sailor! Just like having an NROTC roommate back in college didn't make me a midshipman. I am just a civilian who happens to love a sailor, that's all. I don't expect special treatment at all. It's okay to be proud of your SO's service and achievements, but they are not your own.

    • sabrinacking | February 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm |

      Raquel…let's not fight over semantics. And if you want to get right down to it, many spouses actually do serve the military with endless hours of community service as volunteers in everything from casualty assistance to FRGs …hence the term SERVICE. But, because of the semantic nightmare I usually use the word sacrifice instead, because like you I don't want anyone to think anything I have done, sitting beside widows, running FRGs…anything has been in any way comparable to my husbands service.
      However….I understand her sentiment. Depending on your personal experience, there comes a time…after man-years, or maybe fewer…you never when it will come…when you look at the other 99 percent of the population unconnected to the military and you think…"am I nuts? Is this really even happening? ". You get to where you have a hard time relating to anyone else…that's not a high horse…it's a low ditch. Been there, done that. And it usually comes after years of repeat deployments,volunteer work et all. It also from what I can Gage has a lot to do with the wars impact on your service members health/mental health and that in turn impact on your family. Combat changes people.

  3. I don't normally have such a negative reaction to things like this but Oh. Em. Gee!!! Yes, people DO appreciate us….AS YOU SAID! They thank the service members for their service or tell spouses they don't know how they do it. That is appreciation! Are we (you) taking the time to get to know YOUR neighbors and other civilians in the community?! Do you focus on understanding their fear of being layed off in this economy? Do you really try to understand their stresses of finding affordable healthcare (we have Tricare). How about your boss (if you have one), do you sit and gripe about his/her decisions/changes or do you really try to understand and defend them? Unless a person is in our shoes (or us in theirs), they will never fully understand. I'm okay with that! My non-military friends are there to lend a supportive ear when I need it. They may even offer to help with things while my husband is gone. If your friends aren't supportive, you may need new ones, not force them to try to understand better. There may be various reasons they are not in the military….it's NOT "because nobody cares about the military anymore." They voice their appreciation!

    • Sure as long as their support does not cost them anything they give you WORDs of support. I am even MORE upset by the Wealthy in this country who are the biggest share holders in the multinational corporations and defense contractors that gain them most by the trillions spent on our Military and when it comes time for cuts it is The Service members that are forced to take the hist while the defense contractors contracts still get honored. AND the Wealthy do not send their kids to fight they won;t even agree to pay corporate taxes in the US to pay for the Military that protects their interests over seas. THAT is the real divide between those in the Military and the rest of this country. One group is doing all the sacrifice with more the 10 years of wars the majority just go on with their lives like nothing is going on while a few are actually are making profits off of it.

  4. Raquel, Sometimes you don't want a support group full of strangers. Sometimes you want your family to understand. And when most of your family has no prior military service. You want them to offer a smidge of support and understanding of the military lifestyle. I am pretty certain if you ask a spouse dealing with PTSD they will tell you they serve through the night terrors, in the crowded shopping mall, in the car while their husband is hunting IEDs. You serve by supporting your military husband through deployments, through mutiple PCS, through school, through medical and emotional problems, through being a stable, non-crazy, dramatic spouse. You serve through the hosting of dinner parties, christmas parties and BBQs, you serve in a different way then your husband. But you are still serving a purpose in the military.

    • Wonderlust….ignore Raquel she is a navy wife whose husband has never had boots on the ground…if you going talk the talk one must have walked the walk….Raquel have a little respect for those who have

      • sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

        I had never seen SpouseBuzz until Jacey's suicide post and my subsequent counter post. In the weeks that have followed I absolutely see a valley of difference between being a wife to a soldier/marine with combat deployments…and being a wife to anyone without combat deployments. I don't think there is anyway for us to articulate that, without sending them into a tissy. I hope for them that they never experience the difference. I would not ask my worst enemy to live the life our family has for the past decade. That doesn't make me unpatriotic, or on a high horse. It means…we all…clear down to the kids HAVE served. Funeral after funeral….year after soul crushing year….what I am now is honest, honesty is not unpatriotic. Raquel, let's have you tuck a 4 year old into bed on casualty assistance duty…and have him look up at and you and fighting tears ask "did my Daddy die because I forgot to say my prayers?". Let's have you with a husband so terrified of sleep he becomes next to on human…more of a soldier robot, than a man…then…I think you might understand how some of us know we have, and are serving our country as wives….and why you are clueless. You can say all day long that all deployments are equal…but you're wrong. The first mass funeral you attend, or the first night terror your husband has…you will know how wrong you were…and wish, as I do now, I was Raquel.

  5. Interesting how mean you all are being to a fellow military spouse. Hence why I don't associate myself with most military wives.
    I am a military spouse and I also served for 5 years in the Air Force. I have deployed and so has my husband. Military spouses are what hold the family together, so excuse me for thinking it is harder to be a military spouse than a civilian one. Would you not say your job is harder because your spouse works long hours and deploys for long periods of time? Its a lot like being a single parent.
    My husband is an AF recruiter and the closest base is over an hour away so all we know are civilian families. Yes it is hard to see everyone's spouse getting home at a decent hour while my husband stays at work most of the time till after our kids are asleep. Trying to explain to them why I would rather spend my time with my husband than do girls night is pretty tedious but these people will never truly understand till they have experienced it themselves. You can educate them all you want but it wont help…

      • sabrinacking | February 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

        Or when you think you're a better spouse because you decided to go to boot camp and she didn't…..LOL….Ah Raquel, I want to invite you out for a beer or coffee in a decade….You're a firecracker, I was a firecracker…than a decade of combat deployments visited my entire family…now I am more of a burnt candle most of the time. If you put all the energy you display here attacking people into the'll make one hell of a sailor.

  6. I'm a bit on the fence about this. I don't necessarily see the need to "educate" everyone on our lifestyle. I also don't need to know what other people with firefighters or policemen/women for spouses endure. Our own troubles always seem to outweigh everyone elses, and the need for everyone else to just UNDERSTAND is a bit egocentric in my eyes. Could we as individuals use more support from our not military-related counterparts? Yeah. But I don't think we can make anyone understand why at times we struggle with this life. I'd say as with everything else in life, it all boils down to one single sentence. Don't be a dick. Be nice to people, try and hear them out, and maybe, just maybe, they reciprocate and are nice and helpful in return.

  7. I don't usually add comments to blogs but i couldn't resist adding my two cents on this subject. I totally agree that as military spouses we do not want to be seen as special or especially as deserving any kind of sympathy for our lifestyle. We chose this life when we said "I Do" to the man /woman we love and who also happens to wear a uniform. BUT increasing awareness of the challenges associated with this lifestyle hopefully translates into better opportunities for portable careers for mil spouses, equal access to sports, clubs, and educational programs for our kids as we move every two to three years, and the preservation of our pay and benefits as we enter retirement or transition to vet status.

  8. To those of you who that believe military life is no different than the lives of civilians…I would like to take the emotion out of this argument and add some statistical evidence that our lives our VERY different;
    Military spouse unemployment rate 26% Civilian spouse unemployment rate 5.8%
    Military spouse underemployment rate 38% Civilian spouse underemployment rate 6%
    Military spouses suffer an AVERAGE wage gap of 42-48%, when compared to their civilian spouse counterpart (when age, education level, and background are all equal).

    Finally, military spouse's are more educated, when compared to their civilian counterparts.
    84% have some college 24% hold Bachelor Degree's 10% hold postgraduate degrees

    • So military spouses are better educated than their counterparts, but yet we find it harder to find adequate employment and when we do, we are paid less….do you still think we're the same as everyone else? I know for a fact, being a veteran myself and a spouse of 19 years that we are completely different than civilians.

      Ladies (and Gentlemen) we may not be serving on the front lines, down in the dirt, on the ships with tiny racks, but I assure you WE DO SERVE this country ALONGSIDE OUR SPOUSES. We made a decision to do it, just as our spouses did, but we still serve everyday by being the backbone, by supporting our spouse whether they are home or deployed, we serve our families and children by being the "strong" one that picks up the pieces and become the glue when everything starts to fall apart.

    • Aj, you're right about the employment difficulties of military spouses. Military members have less choice in their 'locations" and moving is assumed ….you make a very valid point.

    • I am a military spouse and have been for the past almost 5 years. It's easy to get a job. All it involves is getting off my ass and putting forth some effort. Military spouse unemployment is so much higher than that of civilians because they think they can get a free ride through life and live off of their hubby's hard-earned income.

      • What do you do, Jenn? Retail?

      • AJChicago | March 1, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

        Jenn…WOW, thanks for insulting me for sitting on my a$$ while raising two kids, taking care of an ailing parent, volunteering part-time, and going to school full-time (including finishing my Masters in 11 months) .
        You've come into the military spouse life when this country is much more accepting of the moving every 3 years than it was 19 years ago I assure you. You're new at this life, so be very careful to not insult those of us that made the way for you to find employment.
        Not sure if you noticed my job title, I'm an Outreach Coordinator for a Veteran Non-profit and you can probably guess what I focus a lot of my attention on…..making sure military spouses have the same opportunities as there civilian counterpart.

        • AJChicago | March 1, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

          I took 12 years out of the "work-force" because I needed to, but I promise you I did very little sitting. If I wanted a "JOB" no problem, anyone can find a JOB (I agree with you there); however, when Professionally-Minded Military Spouses wish to find a "CAREER" that's another ballgame….not so easy. Especially those that require state licensing (any kind of Medical Professional, Teachers, Legal Professionals, etc…)
          So before you insult people like me making a verifiable, statistically sound argument about why military spouses are different; keep in mind it's military spouses like me that have pushed for almost 2 decades for you to have the opportunities you have had for the last 5 years without being told blatantly to your face; "sorry as soon as I get you trained you're just going to leave." Yes that has happened to me on more than one occasion. And it's military spouses like me that will continue to push until the playing field in employment reaches an equilibrium for military spouses and civilian spouses.

  9. What nonsense. The choice to join the military was your significant others. There is no draft here right now, nobody twisted his arm. The choice to marry him was yours, nobody forced you. Many outside of the military have jobs that they do with as much sacrifice and dedication, like police officers, firemen, teachers, nurses and many, many others. It is articles like this that will do nothing to close the gap, but much rather will widen it.

  10. Those of you who hijacked this thread – why did you chose this forum to go back and forth? Repeatedly.

    Regardless of the branch of service, we ALL have varying levels of impact on the service member and their family members. Multiple year-long deployments to war torn areas is an entirely different experience for the person deploying and the family staying behind. Then take it further with the type of job they have. Are they in air conditioned offices or on the front with the enemy. Comparing the military to firefighters or police is not proper. The levels of danger differs greatly with their specific job.

    The opinions here are a bit dramatic at times and encourage me to ignore.

    I need to finish my beer and I can’t type with one hand.

    • You are right, we shouldn't have strayed so far from the topic. I let my anger get away from me and I exercised poor judgement by continuing to respond to the attack on my integrity.

  11. It is not just active duty that is affected about this, once you pick up that tag VETERAN, they all seem to know more than you about your service, and wont listen to you when you try to direct them to a source other than yourself. You do this time and time again, but they still know more than you, or the sources that you provide for them. They just absolutely refuse to look at the sources that you provide for them, because they know better than you. It finally gets to the point where you are ready to give up life long friends over this, because they are treating you like an idiot about something that you have lived through.

  12. William Fury | February 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

    Boy!! This is Great reading , and yes! you are Different, But! also the Same!! For Some ,it seems you want Front page Billing ! others Just proud to be a American,doing what Spouses have done for eons! All of you ,are in a Special Group ,most have never talked to a military Spouse,before taking the Plunge! Those Grey hunks of metal that are floating in water,those Shiny pieces of metal with guns mounted on wings ,those big pieces of metal,with tracks as wheels,and a big gun on top of them.Those Platoons of bodies with rifles ,muddied faces ,running towards the enemy ,are the implements of War,those who operate them ,are Warriors ,their the first to die in the Defense of our country . That is what all those days and nights are for ,Training to fight a WAR. Notice anything !!!? Everyone is looking at everyone else !! Dont understand !!? You the Spouse and children are left out ! Why!? Your not on the front lines. you are in a supportive Roll! Just like the Water company ,delivering water to the Fire Trucks . Can they fight a fire without water NO!. Can they fight a WAR without You ? .YES!. Now! that Rattled some Cages . Way before you came on the Scene .I Know! Sailors ,were told ,Your Wife ,was not Issued to you in a Sea Bag.,so that meant The military did not care, in taking Hubby from you at any time they wanted ,they paid him little and the Spouse a little $s to discourage Families ,because of the Nature of His Job. Most Didnt own Cars ,hitched Hiked ,Couldnt get Married without the COs permission , He Said NO! it meant NO! There were all kinds of Barriers for Not having Families Fast Forward!,Big Pay Hikes Seem to be RICH ! Serviceman ,First thing was a New Car ,Expensive ONE! then Move off the Ship or Base ! AH! but Duty Called ! Duty Nights ,Underway at sea, Deployments ,in between ,Getting Married! , having Children ,Buying a Nice House. Disaster after Disaster . He was not home . Like a Civilian ! Money got Tight! ,over spending ,Divorces . The Service stepped in, to give a Hand ,to the Spouses And thats why you have the Services, the Civilians dont have ! NO Where in the Civilian World ,Do they Pay a husband or mother of the worker extra Pay ! Thats Right you couldnt live on the military Pay of your Spouse ! So the Single Service Member gets Discriminated against ,of doing the same job at the same level of pay grade ,because hes/ Shes not Married ,Unfair ! Dam Right ! You have to understand that there are two kinds of Civilians A, 4F and a1A One could Serve ,one cant .Both DONT have to Serve because its Voluntary ,They are hung up on their life ,as you are to yours , Jealous of you ! Some times .you get a 10% Off ,and Sporting a New Car ,No Tax Paid on it (Virginia) until you Retire . Most Holidays Off Special Events most at no cost ,And when their Truck Driver /Salesman/ Foreign Worker comes home!, He sees his kids at Home ,for his home coming ! Yes! You the Service persons Spouse, is one of a kind , You, and you alone are the back bone of the Military Gal or Guy that can and Will give up their lives for people , Who Has no, Idea of what your sacrifices Are !! those Civilians look at you and your friends Funny ,because you talk in Shortened words, Kinda Secret Messages, You live within a Family of mostly Strangers ,that they could never be part of . So dont be sad , when a civilian dont understand your ways !. Smile its Catching ,Say proudly, My hubby or Wifey is A Marine ,Sailor, Soldier ,or Airman

  13. I am a former U.S. military spouse. My father was a German Navy, WWII POW, my brother was U.S. Army.

    As spouses, children, and siblings of military personnel, we are civilians living in a society experimenting with democracy, with an active military segment. Perhaps overactive. We have militarized in our lifetime in a manner similar to what my father described occurring in Navy Germany; standardization of public education, and polarization of the population into Us/Them thinking with scapegoats to target with the fears and furies of an economically struggling nation.

    The military is designed to be a subsystem of the larger social system. Within that military subsystem are different rules and laws creating greater restrictions and responsibilities on the members.
    We are still a civilian society, integrating our military into our civilian culture is needed for both war time and peace time civil activities as human beings.

  14. This article mentioned "MILITARY FAMILIES" 4 times. Not once did it mention "MILITARY SPOUSES." Not once. So why does the majority of attackers here keep on mentioning military spouses? It's not about YOU. It's about MILITARY FAMILIES, which include the Service Member, the Military Spouse, and the Military Child. For heaven's sake, get off your high horses, ladies! By trying to convince everyone that you don't want any special treatment, you completely miss the point of the article and make yourselves, as spouses, the center of attention. And nobody seems to notice.

  15. In response to the main topic statement that civilians feel the "military isn’t hip enough? Or nobody cares about the military any more"?
    I have a long history of family members that made the military a lifetime career. I spent most of my childhood in a military family, and I am a spouse of an active duty soldier. It has been my experience that the military are VERY WELL COMPENSATED for their "CAREER CHOICE" in pay and benefits more so than many other career or profession(s). "It is a very "military / veteran friendly" world right now and I think a lot of veterans (some who have only served a few years) are taking advantage of the times by trying to milk civilians for all the sympathy, recognition, and benefits they can possibly get. I am finding that today's military have a mindset and adamantly feel that they should have a bottomless pit of entitlements and sympathy.
    There are plenty of professions in battles on a daily bases, working long hours, putting their own health and safety at risk, trying to keep things safe at home for you military too. What hypocrites you are!!! Complaining about American civilians you claim you so gallantly protect.

  16. William Fury | March 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm |


    Man ! dont be so hard on them ! Yes! it looks like a lot of Self pitty, try to fill the void of lonely ness . Most Spouses never had any Idea of the Challenges ,they were to Face . Yes ! They are Supporting their Guys and Gals on the Front lines But!! So ! are Thousands of Civilians Doing Much the Same ,Airline Pilots ,Fire Fighters, Truck Drivers,Overseas Contractors, And working in Not so safe Areas, Their CHOICE !! And NO! banners,posters ,or News reports on their return Dead or Alive . YES! Both Military Families and Civilian ones ,are Rowing the same Boat ,PAY! That is a Battle on both Sides . Benefits!! The Military has the Edge on that . Moving ,They too Have that Problem . SO! you really look about even Stevens , Yes! they do wear uniforms !! But No one has to Salute, Except Fire Fighters,and Police Officers . Your Lucky your Military Member, endure the earlier Times , Uniforms 24/7 Liberty Cards, Low Pay .$180.00 for a E5 over 4 yrs a Month. Spouses. Peanuts !! Wernt Recognized for any thing ! No Civilian Clothes! ,Flight & Sub pay was the only extra $$ Exchanges were for Cigrerets , Toiletries and Magazines 1800, Change Uniform of the Day Manditory for all non working Parties and lots of other little Goodies to frost your ****. Yes! you guys have come a long Way The Tears are on both Sides when Tragedy Strikes , NO fun for any one . I survived 41 yrs in the Navy and seen the things ive talked about . Its Rough. but ! youll make it all good ,if you hold your heads up high and SMILE.. ADVICE Take care of the Needs before the WANTS

  17. Some of you need to quit being so catty. Being a spouse, I get where this post is coming from. There is a definite difference between long nights at work and someone's spouse being thousands of miles away in a war zone. I do agree that people who do not have any ties to the military do not understand why my husband is missing from my son's birthday party, or why I'm not able to make it home for the holidays because of my husband's work schedule. It makes me laugh when I see little facebook posts "Oh, I haven't seen my husband all day"… it takes a bit of tongue biting not to reply with "Congrats, I haven't so much as hugged mine in 7 months". There is a definite divide, and that will always exist because it's difficult to place yourself in one's shoes without living their life on a daily basis.

  18. Amen Raquel!

  19. Raquel have you ever been stationed where there is no military base?? No military community?? I think maybe a tour or recruiting or drill might help you respect the battles military families go up against every day….and before blast me, I have been married to a 11b for 22 years who has 14 deployments under his belt most in which occurred prior to 911 before the luxuries of internet and phone calls before the military stop saying if the military wanted you to have a wife we would issue you one, 1 st duty station was Drum in 1991, which prior to 1989 was a reserve base, the locals, who shunned the active duty because the reserved while there for 2 weeks would drink and turn the town upside down…they didn't take well to Camp Drum becoming a Fort…..Now has life gotten easier for military families..yes, however we still battle ignorance everyday, how about you respect the battles we face.

  20. Being a military spouse is not a disease. It's something that we signed up for when we married these enlisted men or when we agreed to support their decision in enlisting after already being married. It's a choice. Cancer isn't. There's no need to raise awareness of being a military spouse. Or any other family member. I don't expect to be treated any differently than the wife of a civilian. Sure we spend time apart, but we knew we were getting ourselves into it. I don't expect praise or pity or thanks or anything else. I do it because I love and support my husband and I shouldn't expect any sort of recognition. I don't want people to take an interest. This blog isn't helping anyone. It's simply giving military spouses a bad name because it makes the world thing that WE deserve special treatment. News flash! We don't!

  21. blogginglily | February 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm |

    Hm. Clearly I missed the mark with my comment. I'm not comparing it to a disease, I'm comparing awareness of ANYTHING to awareness of something that everyone should already be aware of. My point was that people don't take an active interest in the needs of people unless they have a horse in the race. And I think it's great that you don't need any help or support, but obviously not everyone handles it as spectacularly as you do. And I think that's a shame, when I compare what you have to do (yes…I know…you knew when you signed up or agreed to marry or whatever) to what my wife has to do…

    I'm not offering you my pity. I wasn't looking for a fight. I just wanted to be supportive of the sacrifice. You don't want the support…I get it. I'll offer it to someone who does.

  22. blogginglily | February 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

    I'm uhh…not a wife. Nor in the military…nor is my wife in the miltary. I'm glad you're fully aware. Your awareness comes from being part of it. That was really my point. People who aren't don't understand.

  23. It doesn't bother me or frustrate me when I have to explain military things to family and friends. All that matters to me, where they are concerned, is that they want to still be a part of my life. When I talk to them we talk about our lives, what's been going on and upcoming events. I don't expect them to understand everything and I have never exclaimed that "they just don't understand!" and felt unsupported. My mother-in-law calls once a week and during a deployment always conveys to me that she is there for me if I need anything. She lives over a thousand miles away but I know if things got bad, she would be here in a heartbeat. I talk to my mom every week and she may not understand all the ins and out of military life but I can talk to her about anything and I do. Besides, when being an active part of our lives they are slowly learning about daily life in the military lifestyle. Just as I learned since the beginning of this journey.

  24. What battles of ignorance are we fighting? I lived in a civilian community when my husband was on I & I duty and there wasn't a base with base housing and all the other amenities. We were there from 2006-2009. Everything I did was in the civilian community. I didn't have any issues because I found common things to develop relationships with others in the community. I took art classes and became friends with those people. My kids took dance classes and I got to know the other dance moms. So what if they didn't understand why my husband was hardly around or understand the difficulties of casualty calls and funeral preparations and how it affected both he and I . None of that is their business. We find support where we can and so what if, at times, our only support was each other. Sure it's convenient to be around others that get it, but why automatically assume that those that aren't part of the military community have nothing to offer in terms of friendship and support. Just going to my art class was helpful to me when I spent chunks of time without adult conversation.

  25. Windie, I married my active duty husband in 1989 so I have seen and lived the changes over the part 24 years. And yes, he is still an active duty Marine and we have a few years to go until he retires. I am not going to thank you for paving the way. I am also not going to give you a pat on the back and a thank you for all the sacrifices you made, because those same sacrifices have been made by so many others before you and after. Yes, the public needs to understand what our servicemembers are doing in the name of their country but I am quite content being behind the scenes and supporting my husband.

  26. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

    Windie…we are at Ft Drum now…we live in Watertown…and after 18 years of the Army wife gig….I have NEVER seen such animosity toward the Army. It is absolutely horrific. Everything from online in their Craigslist or newspaper feedback, or Topix….to how you are treated in town just driving your vehicle is absolutely NUTS.
    Drum is increasing in size rapidly, and the local community is not amused. We thought Polk was a palace compared to this place. My husband finds that since most soldiers/families universally hate Drum because of the weather and Watertown community attitude toward them…it affects the duty day as well. Miserable people, make miserable soldiers. It doesn't help any that people seem to come here and then never leave.
    We have been here 8 months, it has been the longest 8 months of my life. I pretty much avoid going anywhere where I might have to interact with locals like the plague.

  27. and Mel, I have lived in places where people hate the Military, and there in no bases… go up to Duluth, MN for a while and let me know if they are still protesting at the recruiting station….and see how they treat your kids differently and watch your kids lose credits to graduate because dad was ordered to report….they could careless and that's the point of the question….When you marry someone in the military you become a military family and you are no longer a cilivan family…does the wife serve..No…but they do make sacrifices that non-military spouses don't…Yes….so my question is this… what would you call a military spouse ?? Or a military family??? a cilivan or cilivan family?? Both groups are cilivans if you live in America, however Military and their families give up some of their right to choose….they make sacrifices that cilivan families don't nor understand…the word cilivan was coined before my time, that is continued to be used to today…it is used to describe the 2 types of people…those who family serve and those who don't

  28. The definition of civilian in my Webster's dictionary is as follows: "a person not on active duty in a military, police or fire-fighting force". There is no mention of family members

  29. Read my above reply again. I never stated I was at Ft Drum, I stated that I was in a civilian community.

  30. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

    And the definition of serve in Websters begins with number 1. To work for someone, or some group. I am not willing to presume, that Navy wives don't do community SERVICE for the Navy…any more than I am willing to deny that Army wives really and God knows it…keep our community afloat with our community SERVICE. Maybe you aren't the kind of wife who serves her community, or more likely my sneaky suspicion…you haven't served your community in such a capacity that really affected who you are. When you serve your community doing casualty assistance, FRG leadership, PTSD caregiver group therapy facilitator….then maybe you will understand that many, many wives serve their country and their husbands branch without EVER putting on a uniform.

  31. Ok well then maybe we need a definition ….and maybe we are the generation that defines it

  32. are you from Watertown?? Because this would explain alot, if not why would you be at Drum as a cilivan if married for 24 years to a Marine? Hmmm have you been married to the same Marine for 24 years ??

  33. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

    And right now….we are battling Your Ignorance…that is the whole point.

  34. Actually I have been volunteering for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, aboard the base I am near, for the past 3 and a half years. I also was very active in the Family Readiness program at my husband's prior unit. The reason I am not active at the current unit is due to distance and the conflict with my kids' schedules.

  35. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

    And no one says you EVER have to serve again….the point was, it's called community SERVICE for a reason. A military spouse is it's own animal, as are military kids….they aren't really civilians…and no they aren't service members. In the wives I know who really get waist deep in serving their communities…we don't have to ask for respect from service members, they fall all over themselves thanking us. No one pays me to serve my military community. It is completely self rewarding. Some…might say, that makes it an even nobler service on some levels. What I hear from you is you have had the experience of wives who are bad wives…who think that just because their husband put the uniform on they are now exalted. That I agree, is ********. But you can't presume all wives don't serve. The Army has been no less of my life than my husbands. These wars will never leave him, and they will never leave me…my service to my community has affected me. The civilian population hasn't been asked anything of in these wars…the wars will come and go for them…

  36. Windie, my husband was on I & I duty, meaning he was part of the active duty component for a reserve unit, in Wisconsin. Since there wasn't a base with base housing, etc, we lived in a civilian community. I never stated that I was at Ft.Drum at any point during the past 24 years. Yes, I have been married to the same Marine for 24 years.

  37. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

    There is already a word that defines military families, that word is AWESOME. We inspire awe everywhere we go…"how do you do it?". "I could never do it". "You are so strong". But being awesome, doesn't mean we aren't human. No more than being soldiers/marines/sailors/coasties means our spouses are no longer human….let's start by having compassion for one another. And stop expecting everyone to be made of titanium 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  38. I don't consider what I do as serving, I consider it contributing to my local community. You are making a lot of assumptions about who I am and my motivation for the way I am commenting. Here's where I'm at. We need to maintain our connection to the civilian community. At some point our spouses will get out of the military and we may find ourselves living in communities that are no where near a base. If we continue to shun "civilians" because they don't "have a clue" then our adjustment to life without the military will be a difficult one. Bare bones, I consider myself a civilian who is married to a Marine. There are things that I may have to deal with that the average person doesn't, but I consider this a normal part of life in the military community. I do not think I am special and I don't need to be recognized for supporting my husband. I get through each day the best I can and as long as my husband and my kids are happy, I feel I have done a good job.

  39. Ok well then that explains alot….you live in the cilivan world and not in the active duty world where you give up your comforts of where your from and all you ever known….and you did state you where at Drum from 06 to 09, but whatever….please don't compare living in the same place to those who have moved every 2 to 6 years because the Army ordered you to….you should realize that active duty families sacrifice alot and have fought many battles

  40. So, I am wrong and lack understanding because I don't think the same way as you. I just threw my perspective out there and you all can agree or disagree, but don't talk down to me or treat me like a sheltered idiot. How about you explain to me what you plan to gain from civilians understanding military life. I personally don't think they need to, but others disagree.

  41. I said I was there from 06 to 09, where did I say I stayed in the same place the entire time. We have moved every 3-4 years since 1989. We have moved 8 times to different states each time. He is active duty and has been since 1989.

  42. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

    It is important civilians have some understanding of military life…and especially how service members and their families adapt to combat experiences, for the very reason you state…some day…we will be in their communities. Vietnam was a great indicator of what happens to veterans when they are misunderstood.
    More importantly, when I hear a spouse say "the civilian world doesn't understand me"…. what I am hearing, having been done that road is: my worldview is changing so drastically…am I nuts? Are they nuts? Who AM I?
    That experience for wives is not a new phenomenon and it in no way means they are on a high horse, in fact it often times means they are finally coming out of the fog of denial and disassociation that has kept them sane during war.
    I can't speak to any other branch but the Army. We are hurting now. Saying that is not saying, you aren't hurting now. It's saying people are finding themselves waking up out of their safety of dissonance fog and asking: why don't people get me? Why don't I get them?
    It's important to not belittle them with the same rhetoric that does drive people to self harm…oh be strong, stop being an attention *****.
    Instead, we need to say to them…they can never u derstand your experience. And you have to know your experience has changed your service member and you. Not to self isolate by continually trying to be "like" a civilian…but to begin to forge a new path for yourself in that world as something other than a civilian.

  43. Yes we are awesome…i still would love a definition, and who we are and are not

  44. Mel which is it…you were or were not, active duty or active duty resereist ?? your replies led me to believe you have exaggerated just a little bit

  45. Thank you for answering my question. Now I know where you are coming from in relation to others understanding military life.

  46. Oops reservist

  47. No, I haven't exaggerated anything. In the Marine Corps, a reserve unit has a small active duty component. When an active duty Marine goes on I & I duty they are attached to that reserve unit for about 3 years. Their active duty status stays the same. My husband was part of that active duty component for 3 years. He has been active duty for the entire 24 years I have been with him.

  48. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

    You're welcome. I think these conversations are hard in this format. But it's very important we have them, especially amongst ourselves, because in the years ahead…no, the civilian world won't understand….but each of us, no matter how broad or tragic our experience, has some understanding.

  49. Ya sorry you still stated you did then didn't then did….i think you're a bit confusing….i have lived on and off bases…lived in places where there is no bases…so are saying you lived off base in the community ? or you lived where there is no bases….because that's two different things entirely

  50. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

    For the record….I was tracking the whole time. I never read it to say you were t Drum, and read it as active marine, attached to reserves. I have a friend, whose husband is Air Force similar, active attached to reserve. I have another who he is Army, but is attached to a reserve component in MN. For the record…the last one actually deploys as much as anyone I have ever known. He was in Africa doing training for tribes in between Iraq deployments. Nso I don't think an assessment of reserves as "less than" is appropriate.

  51. 1st reply guys…..Mel "What battles of ignorance are we fighting? I lived in a civilian community when my husband was on I & I duty and there wasn't a base with base housing and all the other amenities. We were there from 2006-2009. " this was the reply to my statement about Fort Drum….. Maybe you all should go back and read the whole thread

  52. Mel " Windie, my husband was on I & I duty, meaning he was part of the active duty component for a reserve unit, in Wisconsin. Since there wasn't a base with base housing, etc, we lived in a civilian community. I never stated that I was at Ft.Drum at any point during the past 24 years. Yes, I have been married to the same Marine for 24 years."

  53. Mel " I was there from 06 to 09, where did I say I stayed in the same place the entire time. We have moved every 3-4 years since 1989. We have moved 8 times to different states each time. He is active duty and has been since 1989."……seeing my confusion yet ??

  54. Is there a reason why you can't understand what I've said? Here's a blow by blow.
    TN active duty school, lived off base
    NY active duty, lived on base
    Japan, active duty, one year unaccompanied, I moved back home to Minnnesota
    NY active duty, lived on base
    SC active duty, lived off base
    NC active duty, lived on base
    WI active duty attached to reserve unit, lived in town due to no base and no base housing
    NC active duty, live off base

  55. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm |

    I was doing this thing called cooking and eating dinner….so I missed this blow by blow again…Windi, I can see how you got confused, but I think she has explained herself at this point. I think, the key here is, our perspectives are our own. In that, no one should come running on here saying the original article author is on a high horse, or that she is "just a civilian", or depreciating her very real and valid concern that she feels misunderstood by the US at large. I get that. I think anyone who has been affected by the war gets that, some more intimately than others. I think what we continue to witness on SpouseBuzz is the very thing in the broader military culture which hurts wives…that "oh put your big girl pants ons" mentality, that refuses to allow for humanity.

  56. Thank you for clearing that up, it was very contradicting and confused me. It was starting to make me question if you were really a wife of a Marine……Now with that being cleared up, then you should know the battles Military families face every day and how hard it is to explain to non-military (or Civilians which seems to upset people when a spouse says it, so I will be politically correct here) our Military way of life and what struggles Military families go through every day. Now I am glad you didn’t have any struggles while at Drum and you might not of had non-military discriminate against you, but others have, While stationed at Drum it happen a lot, to not only me but to a lot of Military wives, when trying to find a job. The 1st question they always ask “are you a Military wife?” to me that’s discrimination to my marital status, and unfortunately it isn’t just Drum who does this.

  57. Over the last 22 years I have been asked this question at every interview I have ever had, in multiple states. Most recently after a recent deployment, my husband came down on orders to move, I was told by a teacher while I was explaining how my youngest was struggling with the recent deployment, and having to move to a new state and school, she asked “why does this matter”. To me, this is lack of knowledge of what struggles the Military goes through, so yes I think the non-Military world should be educated.

  58. sabrinacking | February 23, 2013 at 8:06 pm |

    Until we understand that the people on this board come from very broad experiences…and when you say military…you are lumping a cook on an aircraft carrier in with a scout patrolman on a Stryker…or a PAC clerk in the Army in with a Navy Seal…that can never be a bridge that is gapped…people who experience combat deployments and their families are going to have a very different experience of military life and war in general. It doesn't make us anyless patriotic, just because we are less drunk on the Kool Aid.

  59. What ever happened to the we are all in tis together way of thinking? Remember the Nations motto is "UNITED we stand" but from what I have seen there is NOTHING united about this country anymore.

  60. Owen Parker Jr. | February 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

    I have absolute respect for you and admire your response. You made a comment about (our) corrupt government. Please if you feel that way, as I do too, please vote.

  61. No high horse in my opinion, and recognition isn't what she's wanting and what she does want is understanding not for herself but for her entire family (to include the servicemember). I can relate to this. I have family that knows nothing of the military way of life and have just kind of shut us out because we didn't live in a 30 mile radius of "home". And for the record, my husband is now retired after 22+ years and I, too, served in the Army. I've been both. And honestly, the kids have had it the worst. They are the ones who grew up without family around or a parent b/c of deployments. They were the ones that kept changing friends and schools. I think understanding the way of life is important and like the article said – especially to get away from impressions that Army Wives, etc is how our lives are!

  62. As I responded in an earlier post: Not outsiders, just strangers from our families. Despite all we've done to keep our ourselves and our kids connected to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, there's not one (connection). We took all our vacations to go home to visit family. Most of the time, they'll only take one day to visit with us. However, on their vacation time, they go to Florida or the likes. The only time that family truly cared about taking their time to visit us was when we were stationed in Puerto Rico and they needed a free place to stay and someone to play tour guide. I think what the author is saying here is that our family situation is unique and that a lot of us need compassion and understanding to help through tough times, sad times, reintergration, etc. We don't get to put down roots in the traditional sense so we want connection roots. That's all. _

  63. Thank you for the rational words.

  64. AJChicago | March 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm |

    Your Welcome!

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