Retiring Army Chief’s Spouse Remarks Go Viral

There's a reason the former chief's remarks about his spouse went viral. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8Ia

It wasn’t controversy that broke the internet over former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno’s remarks at his retirement ceremony August 14. It was what he said about Army spouses.

When the Army Chief of Staff retires, people notice. Retirement from such a powerful, insider position can be a chance for a top official to say what he really thinks about what’s going on without too many repercussions. News articles are written. People listen.

So when instead of saying more about the problems in Iraq or the downsizing of the force, Gen. Odierno used his time in the spotlight to acknowledge the sacrifice of his wife, Linda, and Army spouses everywhere, everyone paid attention.

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“It’s often hard for me to stand up here and make other people understand how much our spouses sacrifice,” he said.

He picked up his notes, folded them in his hands, looked around the audience.

“You don’t understand. You don’t understand everything that they do every day in order to make us a better Army. I don’t believe there’s any other profession (where) we count on our spouses to do so many things,” he said.

You can watch a video of the clip over here.

Endless debates have occurred here on SpouseBuzz and elsewhere about whether or not military spouses serve and whether or not they sacrifice.

The debate is over. Yes, we sacrifice. Yes, we serve.

But what you and I have done probably pales in comparison to the work of Odierno’s wife, Linda. It’s not a contest, but stop for a minute and think about the incredible strength of this woman.

Linda Odierno weathered 39 years of Army life with her six foot, five inches tall high school sweetheart and countless months apart — including 55 months of deployments to Iraq. Fifty-five months, people. Just in Iraq. And THIRTY NINE YEARS of marriage. (I’m working on eight over here. Thirty nine seems like an eternity). She attended over 500 memorial services, he said, often in his place while he was deployed.

“She sacrificed her entire life for me. I can never repay her for that,” he said.

Thank you, Mrs. Odierno, for being such a great example of courage and sacrifice to military spouses everywhere and worthy of the most public of thanks. And thank you, General O., for pausing to see us.

Photos courtesy U.S. Army.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief 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 the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • whatrebeccathinks

    What a classy lady and a great example of what we should all strive to be. Milspouse or not, she truly cares for people and that should be what we place highest as well.

  • Karen

    she also has a steel trap memory! I met her as an Arlington Lady at the annual luncheon. we went through a receiving line, said hello, a little light chit chat. A couple of months later, I was sitting at a booth at AUSA. She came by, spoke to everyone, looked at me and said “we’ve met before… at my house. what was it for”… She is also an amazing listener, looks you in the eye and concentrates on only you – no looking around for others… just you.

  • CCL

    Thank you, General and Mrs. Odierno! The country needs more respectful couples like you!

  • Skip P

    All senior military officers should be so blessed…I was. My wife was a Sergeant Major’s daughter and took care of the families when we were deployed.

  • Trish Aaron

    I had the pleasure of knowing Linda while we were stationed at Ft. Hood, TX and I was the VP of the Enlisted Spouses’ Club. A wonderfully gracious lady, thoughtful and caring. Linda was at the redeployment ceremony when my Husband returned from OIF1…my FIRST deployment experience with losses to our unit…she stood and waited by my side and greeted my Husband.

    General O, thank you for recognizing your beloved wife and all the other MilSpouses! The Army doesn’t want us to BE “dependent,” yet the FMs, ARs, etc. ALL remain unchanged, using that terminology, despite the teaching of the Army Family Team Building (AFTB) classes that “Family Member” is the proper term usage for a Military Spouse.

  • Mike Doernhoiefer

    Thank You Both ! For your Service to this Country, Unwavering Dedication to each other, Family and the Military Family, you both have given so much to. We appreciate who you are and what you’ve done. Enjoy retirement and all the blessings you deserve so much.

  • James Monaghan

    Wow. What a beautiful way to retire and to say thank you for all that you have done. People today should sit up and listen instead of finding an easy way to say we’re through.

  • john allen

    Here all you liberals thought it was only the troops who sacrificed, you have no clue about Military life if you haven’t been military. You support then troops? the NEVER tell them what they are doing is wrong. it hurts them And their families The Members of the US Armed Services are the best and brightest this nation has, they and their families know what you are REALLY saying so can the insults you don’t deserve the courage of the troops or their Spouses

    • David

      John, to which liberals are you referring? There are 11 comments on this post excepting yours, and all except one praise either Mrs. Odierno or both her and the General. Those persons may hold liberal convictions, as I do, but those political leanings don’t preclude appreciating military spouses-my wife being one.

      • Dano

        I think John is referring to all liberals, wake up David! Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

        • hardwroc

          I think YOU need to do some rethinking Dano, since example shows that FEW conservatives actually serve. Their daddies finagle their way out of actual danger and sacrifice in the name of the nation.
          I’m liberal and I served my nation, even though the war in Vietnam had little motivation for me to feel I was doing my nation in doing so. That is part of the deal, to follow orders and do your duty. It would do our nation well if more conservatives actually served our nation in the military, so they could see the importance of DIPLOMACY first, instead of the drums of war as the answer to every question.

    • OlderVet

      So you think only conservatives love their country and fight for it. Have you yourself done that. Don’t compartmentalize. My father fought in the Phillipines during the second world war and I volunteered during Viet Nam and spent 22 years in the military maintaining nuclear missiles, managing missile early warning systems and satellite systems. I really despise this conservative/liberal stereotyping. You haven’t a notion.

      • Dano

        I too spent over 22 years in the military and continue to serve. How would you like to spend a night in a missile silo with one of those liberal transgender troops! Get real.

        • Randy

          You are disrespecting this beautiful tribute to the sacrifices of an amazing military spouse. Politics has no place here. Shame on you.

    • JenOJ

      Yeah, I think it’s not necessary to refer to politics in this comments section, folks. Let’s not hate on the wonderful nature of this particular piece but keep it real by keeping the negative vibe out of it. Those comments don’t belong.

    • Dano

      Well Eileen….sounds like your leaning a little to the right. Maybe your not a liberal. Do you really endorse decimation of our military and social experimentation amongst the ranks? Really, what would your husband say?

    • jazziz2

      John, just a reminder, it was the current “liberal” FLOTUS &SLOTUS that focused the country on supporting military spouses and families.

    • alsharptonjr

      This guy John Allen is a bitter fool. Why waste time acknowledging him?

    • SGT IPB

      As a liberal and a veteran, I find your post deeply offensive, and a slap in the face to the many veterans and spouses who have the audacity to disagree with you politically. And if you have interest in the troops and their spouses, you might want to investigate which party has the more frequent tendency to put our troops in harms way, as well as which party regularly votes to slash veteran’s programs.

  • Missy Benoit-Murray

    Thank you both for your sacrifice to our country. I had the privilege of meeting you both in person when you came to visit my son James at Walter Reed back in 2003. Linda you are not only a strong wife but a strong mother who endured your own sons injuries while supporting your husband in war. Go and enjoy your days of retirement you have both earned it.

  • guest

    “Behind every good man there is a good woman.” Thanks to his wife for her hard work and thanks to him for noticing!

  • Roosevelt

    WOW! I can’t believed that top general recognized his spouse for 39 years. My wife served 22yrs and deployed twice to Afghanistan plus raising two kids. As we know that spouses are the backbone to every military member and Yes we do served along with our spouse because we sacrifice our dreams for our spouses to succeed in the military life.

    Thank you so much

  • Retired USAF

    Yep, she’s half the man he is.

  • frank Lafuente

    I render the utmost of respect to Mrs. Odierno, the women to whom have given their effort, and time for our Military. This has been many decades of sacrifice. There are numerous females in my family that have and are serving The American Military. I as their uncle am most proud of this. Congratulations for the two new Army Rangers Graduates. Bless

  • Lesa Brydson

    Blessings to all who serve. I am from Jamaica, and my Dad served in the JCF, not the army, but he is grateful after serving 40 years, appreciated his wife, my mom, raising 7 children…….sacrifice and love in deed.

  • huh

    so cspan is viral?

    • Amy_Bushatz

      My Facebook feed absolutely exploded with links to his speech and the video starting Friday evening and into Saturday.

  • RKP

    Long over due for all spouse’s. When I first went into the Army I worked 6 days a week when we were in garrison and after I got home from my Army job I would take on odd jobs to pay the bills when ever I could. My wife would work her two jobs and still iron my Military clothing and shine my boots. I would get home by 2 or 3 in the morning take a nap then take a bus to Ft. Bragg to make formation by 6:30. My wife supported me for my whole career of 24 years. I don’t know another women who worked so hard for me and the Army and always for my troops for all of my career. I can never thank her all that she has done!!!

  • JenOJ

    Now, THIS is what I go onto this page to read about: Something that shows appreciation, isn’t about whining, isn’t about what did not go right, isn’t about what should have happened, and shows us what CAN be done in the right relationship, with the right commitment and partner. More articles can lift us up and do the same thing: show wounded warriors living with their disabilities, show families making it work while a spouse is deployed or both spouses are working, showing couples who don’t have children and their routines of living their lives fully, showing retired military volunteering and making a meaninful contribution. Finding the good things about people in their lives, overcoming obstacles, then celebrating what they are doing that we can all emulate. That is what this networking needs to highlight more often. Thanks to Gen. O and his wife and family for their sacrifices. Thanks to all the other “littler people”, since I have always said, “Show me an organization and how it treats the lowest on the totem pole,and I will show you a place where leadership is great.” What Generals endure is tough,but let’s be real, they do have a network of people there to serve them, get them moved, housing to move to, people to ensure they are comfy and taken care of. We need to also do that for everyone who deploys, PCSes, shows up someplace without a car, needs to take time off for a funeral in a new duty station…everyone needs respect, but respect is earned, and certainly, Gen. O shows his earned respect by treating everyone, including his wife, with the dignity he believes they deserve. Bravo!

  • Lee G Bray

    This is quite true, my wife maintained a household for two non dependent tours, Vietnam and Korea at the time. Can’t say enough abut how great our wive were and are.

  • John

    Thank you to all that serve. Both at home and deployed. Families that work together make both serve and raise Great Children. The most developed children are those that are raised to MILITARY FAMILIES.

  • Darleen

    Thank you, General Odierno, for recognizing all we spouses do and endure throughout our husbands’ careers… so many tend to adhere to the old adage… “If the AF/Army/Navy/Marines/CG wanted you to have a spouse, they would have issued one”. How refreshing that someone in your position acknowledges us, as well, for the sacrifices we have and/or are making for our country

  • janice arrington

    I was a Navy wife and he retired after 23 years+ The one thing bad about the Navy is the sailors are gone on the ship so much you don’t see them even when you live in the port they are stationed at.

  • haldonahue

    He is most correct – military spouses and children serve the nation every bit as much as we did…

  • Patricia J Commons

    I am the wife of a deceased military careetr enlisted//officer. I am now 82 years of age.
    I am fortunate to have shared his commitment to the service for our country. Anyone who has not experienced this life will not ever understand the responsibilities of a military wife and family. We were responsible for giving him/her support. Accepting that we must be capable of accepting all circumstances regarding whatever that might have been. I do not regret one minute of this phase of my life. Anyone that has not experienced the role of a military wife/family will never understand the experience. I am privileged to have had the opportunity. As a result We all have experienced associations with life long friends.

  • JMC

    I think what he did is admirable. I don’t think anyone else has ever acknowledged the spouses and what they do for our country as well. Spouses should receive medals as well as the soldiers.
    There are some wonderful role modes out there for us women. We need to hear more about them as they encourage, not tear down our position. All I ever hear is wives complaining about what they have to go through as a soldiers wife. Someone should start a site by honorable women as a tool for those who don’t see military life in the way that they do. It could save many marriages!!!!

  • Mel

    My wife received a certificate of retirement from the Air Force when I retired from Luke AFB . Yes , they do earn it too .

  • ia brandau

    I agree it takes a special woman to be a military spouse.

  • Shelia Franklin

    We knew the Odiernos in Schwabisch Gmuend, Germany as he began his military career. They were newly weds and straqight from West Point. Hardt Kasern was all abuzz with talk of them. Everyone knew then he would be a General one day. My husband served 23 years.

  • Tom Green

    Every Service Member will agree. Well done to the Oderino Team! Thank you Ma’am.

  • Stacy

    I want to say God bless your wife for all she did and God bless you for all you did as well. It is so true that military wives play a important role as well it was very sweet if you to honor her as well. I am a military wife of 20 years and my husband just retired….

  • warfoodie

    Cheers to the spouses who are holding down the fort.