February 10, 2012

From My Point of View- an Army Reserve/National Guard Wife's Response

There has been a lot of talk in the military spouse blogging community over the past 24 hours. As a former Army National Guard spouse/current Army Reserve spouse, I felt as if some of my blogging friends wondered what my thoughts were on a particular blog post that was solely written, in my opinion, to ruffle feathers. Other blogs have linked to the post- I will not be doing so. Some reacted to this post with anger. Some felt sorry for the writer. A few even defended her.

Here is my thought: we are used to being misunderstood.

Before my brother and husband were in the Army National Guard, I knew almost nothing about the Guard. I was vaguely aware of them being called out to help in a local snowstorm, but that's about it. Just like most Americans who aren't connected with the military, it all seemed a bit hazy to me.

When I became a part of this life/culture/whatever it's called, I began getting a lot of questions. More than questions though, I got a lot of assumptions about my brother and husband. Either they don't deploy (not even stateside), or they don't deploy anywhere dangerous like Afghanistan, or they're not gone long when they do. It's one weekend a month and two weeks a year and that's it. I've heard the term "playing soldier" so much it's nauseating. I don't blame those people for the not-knowing, when I was in their shoes not so long ago.

But the great majority of active duty spouses- including so many of my wonderful blogging friends- realize that those things simply aren't true. National Guard and Reserves are soldiers- of course they are. When you sign on the dotted line to put your life in harm's way for the sake of the country, that is a soldier. My husband and brother are no less veterans/soldiers because of any title that came after "Army"- they are two infantrymen who went through basic training just like everyone else, lived in a plywood bedroom in Afghanistan for a year while being away from everyone they loved, listened to the sounds of constant explosions and gunfire, drove in the same humvees dodging roadside bombs, and came home to face the same demons so many soldiers do. They wore the same uniform. They fired the same weapons. They did the same things. They made the same sacrifices. Their families made the same sacrifices, too.

There is a difference between misunderstanding and attacking. Many people don't understand military life, and even less understand the National Guard and Reserve. That's just the way it is, and I can't fault them for it. We are used to a lack of understanding, and we are used to a lack of support. It's one of the unique challenges to being a non-active duty spouse. However, I whole-heartily disagree with someone saying that they are not soldiers. I feel it's not only incorrect and naive, but it's incredibly hurtful. Our sacrifices are just as great, so to say that someone who risked everything, came home with a physical injury or PTSD, or didn't come home at all is not a soldier? To say that their spouses are not "real Army wives"? Shame on you.

If your husband or wife signed on that line, you're a military spouse, plain and simple. No one is more of an Army wife than someone else. We're not in junior high, and it's not a competition. But please don't belittle the service of my husband, my brother, and all the other brave men and women who have served, fought, and even died in the National Guard and Reserve. Don't belittle the families that waited for them at home.

I was humbled to see the responses of  so many of my friends. I felt like they had stood up for me personally. It means a lot knowing they recognize the truth, and that they acknowledge my husband as a soldier. I think that's the biggest key. Strip me of my "Army wife" title, that's fine- just don't disrespect so many people who have given so much.

I joined this blogging community and ended up finding a sort of blogger FRG. I can go to these girls with my questions, my frustrations, and everything else related to Army life, and they will understand. Because we don't live on a base, and because we aren't immersed in everything Army, I always know that I can log onto this computer and be in the company of people who know- of people who go through the same things I do. Of military spouses. Of Army wives.

14 kind comments from you:

Erinn said...

There have been some really negative posts both for the author and against her. This here is refreshing. Thank you for being such a beautiful writer.

Nicole Marie said...

I agree with Erinn's comment, this is refreshing. It's not accusatory and it's written nicely. I have said this about the issue before, if anything there is a lesson here... be careful what you want to rant about. Especially as a wife of someone in the service.

It's a Dog Tag Wife Life said...

I'm am with the ladies above. This was well written but not accusatory, mean, name-calling etc. ANd I think of this as my online FRG also. We don't live near post and it's so nice to have a group of women/men who understand what I'm going through and are there for advice and some days, just getting my frustrations out.

Reccewife said...

Very nice. It's all about supporting each other :)

Jane said...

Hugs! You are absolutely a military spouse and I feel bad that anyone would put people like you and your husband down.

Jenn said...

Wow. I read her post from a link from another blog I read (does that even make sense?) and she just sounds flat-out ignorant to me. I hate that I even clicked over to read it because now I have added to her total pageviews and I don't want her thinking that's a good thing!
As we say here in the South, She's dumb as rocks, bless her heart.

My husband was in the Guard before going active and for her to think that serving under one or the other is somehow better or worse... oh the "dumb as rocks" saying just keeps popping into my head.

Thank you to you and your husband for your service. Because active, guard, reserve, it is still SERVICE to country. :)

Fran said...

First off, I know you know this but I have this urge to say it - you're absolutely an army wife and your husband and brother are most definitely soldiers. My urge came from the fact that Lance and I met while he was on recruiting and I seriously could not believe the things she said and honestly embarrassed me as a wife of a previous recruiter.

Secondly, very nice post. As everyone's said already, it's refreshing to see a non-accusatory post. And I feel the same way as far as having an online FRG goes. I know I live near post, however, I feel like I can count on all of you lovely ladies just as much, if not more :)

Karen said...

Great response! My husband has been Active Duty, National Guard, AGR, and is currently regular Reserves. So needless to say, I have experienced all aspects of the military life. In my opinion, she is a twit. And a coward.

MrsMcDancer said...

I appreciated your response, because I think you took the time to convey your feelings without belittling anyone else's. Also, I couldn't help seeing It's a Dog Tag Wife Life's phrasing of "virtual FRG". In spite of some of the dramas that are bound to occur, it is wonderful to experience this virtual Sisterhood {and occasionally brotherhood too, can't leave out the male spouses!} Thank you for being you and being supportive for those of us near and far!

Steph said...

I couldn't agree with you more. My husband went from Active Duty to Reserves to Guard. Each has its own set of challenges but like you said, when you sign on the dotted line you are putting yourself in harms way. Thank you for writing this post.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I'm an Air Force Wife, but I feel the same judgement in the air, at times. The assumptions that my husband doesn't deploy. Or if he does, it's not for long. Our last deployment was 6 months. No matter what Military branch someone is in, it is tough and challenging on both them AND their loved ones. Each Military members serves - together.

Warrior Wife said...

You are far kinder than anyone would expect you to be. I like to think, optimistically, that this was simply a prideful and ignorant mistake this newbie wife has made, and she learns from it and becomes a warmer, softer person for it. Someone like you.

Amanda said...

I love how you wrote this. There has been so much name calling and freaking out over what this person wrote, and to me, while I don't agree with her, I also don't believe it is okay for the rest of us to turn on her at the drop of a dime because of her pot stirring. I have read that she is a new military wife, and it takes awhile to learn the ropes. Maybe this was just what she needed to learn her place.

At the end of the day though she was completely wrong. And it shows a lot from you to respond this way. So I give props to you, your husband and every other Guard or Reserve member that does so much more for this country then they are usually acknowledged for.

Anonymous said...

My friend (she's more like family) is in the Australian Army Reserves - sounds like it is similar, 1 night a week, 1 weekend a month, 2 weeks a year. But she has gone overseas on a number of occasions. This time last year she was spending 6 months in the Solomon Islands, and a few years ago she nearly went to Iraq. Her mother and family and friends, while supporting her, worried just as much as any 'full-time' army family. As you say, she was doing the same job as everyone else. And I'm grateful for all of them.

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