By Carla Olivo, USMC Spouse
Thirty-Three years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation designating the Friday before Mother’s Day as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. A day set aside in recognition of “the profound importance of spouse commitment to the readiness and well-being of service members on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserve, and to the security of our Nation.”
Few Americans fully understand the sacrifices made by those who serve in uniform, but mil-spouses are a different breed. They know and understand all too well the sacrifices their better halves make to ensure our freedom.
There are many nasty debates on social media about mil-spouses, calling them everything from “dependas” to “gold diggers” which I find quite sad. Most of the mil-spouses I know are just as educated and accomplished as their husbands. I know! Not all mil-spouses are women, but the majority in my social circle are women. And many times, if these women are not quite as accomplished as their husbands, it’s because their own careers were cut short or drastically affected due to their husband’s military commitment.
I first got to know a few military spouses when I was working as a TV news reporter. One of the areas I covered was Dover Air Force Base. At that time, in the mid-to-late 80’s, (I’m dating myself here!) Officer’s Wives were discouraged from working. It seemed archaic to me! Little did I know that ten years later, I would be joining their ranks! And luckily when I did, it was more acceptable for spouses to work. The problem was continuing on the career ladder when moving every couple of years. I did work virtually, but it was nowhere near as easy as it is today. And then once kids came into the picture, working became even harder.
Appreciate the Sacrifice
I am the first to admit that my husband has no clue that there even is a “Military Spouse Appreciation Day.” He can’t even remember our anniversary or my birthday. But I know he appreciates the sacrifices our family made over the years that allowed him to serve our country.
No, my observance of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, a day we honor the spouses of those who have left behind everything in support of their spouses’ service to our country, has always been spent with my fellow mil-spouses. Stephanie, Connie, Tylene, JoFran, AnneMarie, Diane, Mylene, Kris, Christie, Paige, Martinha, Deb, Alaina, Jen, Christine, Alie, and Kim – to name just a few – my friends and my heroes. Some years it’s a family cook-out, other years it’s been a girls’ lunch with that ‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ glass of wine.
However the celebration unfolds, it is important to recognize the relocations, separations, heartache, and pride that make up the lives of the spouses of our men and women in uniform – a special group that bears the burden of holding a military family together during the worst of circumstances. So, on this Military Spouse Appreciation Day 2017, reach out to a mil-spouse you know and just say ‘thanks.’ It won’t be expected, but it will be appreciated.