**Full Disclosure: I wrote this post last year on the day after Veterans Day, but after thinking on it I decided not to post it. But every year I get pushed to defend why I don’t feel that spouses should get thanked on Veterans Day, so I decided to share exactly why I feel that way and this post just happens to sum it up well.
So I give you my explanation of exactly why I am NOT a Veteran.
Last night I had an interesting conversation with my husband. And while it’s not necessarily an unusual thing for us to discuss, I will explain why talking about military spouses, Veterans Day, and entitlement was unusual this time.
My husband, a United States Marine, has served his country for more than a decade. In that time, we have spent time apart, time together, missed birthdays celebrated on random other days, time apart for deployment, and all of those things we tend to associated with this life. And in that time, he has looked at me more times than I can count and told me, “I just can’t even imagine how it is on your side of things.”
No, he can’t. Not because no one can (I honestly believe that people can absolutely understand and empathize with our circumstances), but simply because that is not one of his talents. What he lacks in the ability to put himself in my shoes, he more than makes up for in so many other ways. And, while not a perfect husband, and while I have been open about the struggles in our marriage, one thing has never been questioned: He respects me as a military spouse and what I do to hold down the fort. He also believes that military spouses can be entitled brats…
And so do I.
So, imagine my surprise when, while he was agreeing with me, I found myself angry at him. Not for agreeing with me, but for not agreeing with me more.
While he encountered his random person here and there on Veterans Day that didn’t appreciate or understand the day, I spent my day on social media flooded with posts about why spouses and families should be thanked and why we should count as Veterans because we sacrifice too.
I’m going to pause now for dramatic effect…
I have written ad nauseum about why Veterans Day is NOT military spouse day on my own site, my old site, for other sites etc. I do not need to remind the free world why Veterans and spouses are not the same and should not be honored as such. But, for the first time in a long time, I’m going to give an unfiltered, non-PC explanation as to why. (Bear with me here, as my husband has me all riled up.)
I am not a veteran. I did not serve my nation. Period. No contracts were signed, no oaths taken. I have not attended boot camp, I have not deployed, attended any military related schooling, donned a uniform belonging to any branch of our military, nor have I, at any point, had the HONOR of EARNING rank bestowed on our amazing service members.
I have done none of those things to date. I have, however, walked dogs, been injured when my husband was unreachable in the field, recovered surgery while he was in the field, lived through a deployment and come out of the other side and many other things that would not have happened if he were not a Marine. Does that make me anything other than his wife? Have I earned some sort of special spouse rank for that? (cough*no, that’s a joke, you must be kidding, people don’t really think they deserve that do they?*coughcough*)
And let’s be clear for a moment, does remaining faithful while my husband’s away deserve an award? Has being able to follow the most basic of marriage rules while my husband is away, something that almost every civilian’s spouse also manages to do, become something noteworthy? Something that I should be praised for?
Honor veterans for their service; honor your spouse for their service. Do not behave as if what you do is paramount to what they do. Do you think so little of the service these men and women provide our nation that you would compare your daily duties for the house and home to their service? Each MOS provides a particular service that keeps our military running and our nation safe and supporting those men and women is an honorable thing, but it is NOT the SAME as serving.
The contracts they sign show they are willing to give up their lives if necessary in the service of our nation. I have signed no such contract. I have given my life to my husband in an emotional and spiritual sense, but I am not literally signing my life away for strangers and the greater good. To compare what I do to that is insulting. There are a lot of great things I have done in my life, but none have earned me the title of Veteran.
Don’t get me wrong, it is hard. This life can be hard. Being apart, danger, all of that is hard. But is it harder than any other spouse’s life that is married to a police officer who is in danger each day, a traveling businessman who has to be away from home for work more than he’s home, or any number of other life circumstances that are less than ideal? No. It’s just different. Our circumstances are different than other’s, but that doesn’t make them worse, or somehow deserving of praise beyond what would normally be called for. It doesn’t make us better than other spouses, it doesn’t even make us unequal to them. Why? Because we all are doing the same basic thing: Supporting our spouse and loving them.
And while I sometimes see the evil stereotypes about spouses rear their ugly heads in these conversations with my husband, all I have to do is remind him that he is saying them to a person who doesn’t fit the negative stereotype. And frankly, not many spouses do. But those entitled, bratty, full of themselves stereotypes are coming from somewhere, and I am sad to report that I see them being the loudest on social media when these types of days roll around (not that they are the plentiful, simply the most vocal). It’s disappointing and I am, frankly, getting tired of rolling my eyes and hoping we are not all pinned as agreeing with them.
I did nothing special during my husband’s deployment and, to this day, the extent of what I do is loving and honoring my husband, who just so happens to be a Marine. And frankly, that’s nothing all that amazing. In fact, marring someone you love and honoring them, staying faithful to them, and helping run the household while they are away is nothing that every other spouse in the world isn’t doing right this moment. So, if you think about, we might be the most common group of people in the world, not the most unique or elevated group.
To sum it up nicely, I will share with you a comment I left on a page (who was also agreeing with my sentiment) on Facebook:
“I’m a military spouse and I want to punch those spouses in the throat. I’m sorry, but it’s a joke to think we deserve anything (and I include military spouse day in May in that, it’s silly and I can’t even believe it’s a real thing). You know what I did? I married someone I love. I sat on the couch for a year (and went to school) while he deployed and fought a war. I don’t deserve shit for that. I did nothing all that special and nothing that civilians all over this nation don’t do all the time, marry for love. He is a hero, I walk the dogs. Do the math. One adds up to serving his nation and deserving thanks for protecting our freedoms, and one is the act of picking up dog shit and putting it in the trash can. It’s veterans day, not military spouse day. Honor your veteran by not trying to horn in on his day and steal his well earned gratitude.”