Valiant mil­i­tary spouses de­serve na­tion’s thanks

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - GOR­DON FORBES — Gor­don Forbes is a re­tired Royal Cana­dian Navy of­fi­cer who’s been mar­ried 51 years.

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.

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