There’s a Difference between Military Spouses and Veterans

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.

Are you leaving the military? Are you unsure what comes next? Struggling with what do next? I can help. I served in Air Force for six years before becoming a military spouse, mom and blogger. The transition from military to mom was a hard one for me and the one thing that helped me was finding purpose again. I want to help you navigate the transition of life after the military and help you thrive. I created a workbook with the tools I have learned the past four years. Leading me from lost, lonely mom to momprenuer. #militarylife

10 comments on “There’s a Difference between Military Spouses and Veterans

  1. Amanda, this is a really interesting perspective and I thank you for addressing it – especially to someone who isn’t in the military. I admire how brave you are to stand up for what you believe and to point out both sides of the situation. I’m wishing you and the family well and keep the pics of your little cuties coming. In Love, Aimee Ruth

    • It truly wasn’t easy to publish this article, but the feedback has been so positive. Another great reminder that fear is often in our heads. People actually want to hear what we have to say we just have to be willing to stand up and say it! thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. I am an Army wife for 26 years now and I don’t agree with the “signed certificate ” comment. Us wives(as you may know), after the certificate is signed, withstand countless disappointments, loneliness, financial difficulties, marital problems, amongst many other difficulties. I agree, we don’t endure the trials of training and war, but God knows, sometimes it feels like it!

    • As both a military spouse and veteran I agree. Military spouses face many challenges. I think they deserve to be recognized. But when both military spouses and veterans are recognized at the same time I feel like it leads to more problems than helping. I know many military spouses who don’t like when this happens.

  3. Amanda,

    I am a veteran myself, and military spouse, and I cannot explain to you how many times I have thought everything you outlined in this article. I’ve written about it myself. I think the hardest thing to try and get past is the assumption that women only serve in spousal roles. My husband and I have been in public countless times when he was assumed to be in the service, and I the wife. His commanding officer even tried to explain to me at his promotion ceremony why this was important in the military. While I am proud to be a military spouse, I am proud of my service and the sacrifices it took. I’m totally disabled. And it took a lot to end up that way. That, and the experiences we have are something unique to Veterans. Thank you for speaking up about this!

  4. Amanda,
    I agree with everything you said and felt in this article. I have felt this many times being both a military spouse and military veteran. You’re absolutely right in that as a veteran, we ourselves earned the title of becoming an Airman, Marine, Soldier, or Sailor. That does have a different meaning in terms of sacrifice. Thank you for writing this article and being a voice for your fellow women veterans.

  5. I completely agree with everything you wrote. I’m also an army veteran and military spouse of 25 years. While I do believe that being a military spouse is difficult (my husband has deployed nine times and had two overseas unaccompanied tours), it’s not the same as being active duty. Not even close.

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