My family attended a ceremony a few months ago. The announcer asked people who were military veterans and military spouses to raise their hand. My hand went up next to my husbands, as did my blood pressure. You see I am a military spouse. And I would be the first to tell you how hard it is to be a military spouse. And military spouses are not given the credit for the hard work they do. But I am also a military veteran.
Military spouses and military veterans are not the same. They shouldn’t be put in the same category.
When the speaker added military spouses in an attempt to honor their sacrifice. It felt as if it was the only option for military spouses. His action made me feel as if he thought you couldn’t be both. When actually you can. And many men and women play the role of military veteran and military spouse.
And maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I thought people assumed I filled the military veteran role. Instead of the role of military spouse. But the truth is if a female raises her hand at a military ceremony honoring veterans and military spouses. Most people assume the woman is a military spouse. I know it is true because even I do it.
And I know it doesn’t matter what people think. And I realize what the speaker was trying to do, but it still bothered me.
Because while I am a military spouse I am also a military veteran.
And I am very proud (maybe too proud) of my military service. Looking back and thinking about what I had to do to earn that title it frustrates me when I am placed in a category one earns through marriage. Becoming a military spouse is something that happens when someone chooses to marry someone in the military. While becoming a military veteran requires more than a signed certificate.
The process for me becoming a military member took years to become a reality. I first thought about joining and almost enlisted in the military before finding ROTC and beginning my road to becoming an officer. The first step to becoming an officer is the attending classes for ROTC and passing the physical fitness test. Then I had to be nominated and selected to go to Field Training (a four-week officer training during the summer). Then completing Field Training, which was really difficult for me and is not something everyone completes.
Next, I had a minor complication that almost disqualified me from military service during my medical physical. Plus graduating from college and completing all my ROTC requirements. Finally, I commissioned.
Military Service Began With Sacrifice
My military service began with 6 weeks of military training in Alabama then finally being reunited with my husband after about a year apart. Followed by leaving a few months later for another training, this time eight weeks in Ohio. And eventually, my service included a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan where I was awarded a bronze star for my service.
At the church we attend, each Veteran’s Day they honor veterans and military families. And I think they have found a great way to honor each group by distinguishing them in separate categories. First veterans stand, then active duty members stand, then families stand. I love how they honor all three categories separately, but together. There is no question about how each person is affiliated to the military.
Each category of people deserve to be honored because of the sacrifice they make, but putting them all in one category diminishes the sacrifice each group makes.