Valiant military spouses deserve nation’s thanks
They could be all around you. They may live on your street or in your neighbourhood.
There are two on our street and two more who were once part of the group.
You may run into them in the grocery store or the gym. Who are these strange creatures? They are military spouses, of either gender. And they are the real heroines and heroes behind so many of our military personnel and veterans.
During this period of remembrance, they, too, must be remembered and honoured.
We saw, of course, the Silver Cross Mother at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, as we do every year, representing mothers who have lost children to war.
But we never see a Silver Cross Wife.
Most people have no idea what it is like to lose a spouse in their young years, often with a family to raise and having to explain why mom or dad is not coming home.
But the real story is with the dayby-day and year-by-year experiences of these spouses who see a service member through an entire military career.
They start the life with optimism and enthusiasm. Unlike the military member, however, there is no basic training for the spouses in their new life.
They are not told how to withstand the long absences.
They are not told how to react when they hear of death or disaster; how to tell the children why a parent can’t be there for their school graduation; how to understand what often sound like inane or stupid orders from their spouse’s senior officer; how to give birth without their spouse present; how to support other military spouses when they need help; how to uproot their homes every couple of years because their spouse has just received a new posting.
And they don’t tell you that you will have to do this year after year for as long as your spouse chooses to stay in a military career.
The really amazing thing is that so many military spouses deal with all that and more. They run the household. They cook the meals. They manage the budget. They pay the bills and do the shopping.
They get the kids off to school every morning and to bed every night.
They don’t complain (much) when the biggest snowfall of the year arrives two days after their soldier or sailor has deployed for the winter or for a year.
They get everything ready for the next move, then unpack everything at the other end.
They attend the parent-teacher interviews.
They keep the small, daily disasters a secret from their serving spouse when that person is away.
They know exactly what to do when the furnace breaks down.
They do this all by themselves because you, the serving member, are busy fighting terrorists or pirates or helping out in a natural disaster; because you are doing your job.
And for some of them, the day comes when they have to tend to your damaged body or mind.
Or they have to arrange to have you buried.
They deserve our praise because they allow our soldiers, sailors and air crews to protect our country.
So when you shake the hand of a person in military uniform, give their spouse a big hug too.
Here’s to Mary and Barb, Lynne and Verna and Pat and Monica and Bev and Marlene and Alice and Sue and Denee and John.
God bless them all, and so many more. — Gordon Forbes is a retired Royal Canadian Navy officer who’s been married 51 years.