Army wives don’t work, are adulterous, are trashy, are
slutty, are looking for the next big thing (or husband), demand too much, are
doormats for abusive spouses, have no ambition, lack self-confidence, lack
grace, poise, intellect ... I mean really the list could just go on and on.
Media—and our fellow spouse networks—don’t do much to help boost military
spouses and change the perceptions that have been so ingrained over the years.
We have soap opera like shows that dramatize relationships and suggest that
women are baby factories, often cheat on husbands, and are lacking in social graces, to say the least.
Sure, in every community you’ll find those people. There
are bankers, government employees, teachers, stay-at-home moms and tech geeks
who could all be put into that group described above; but no one stereotypes those groups of people like those of us in the military world are stereotyped. Unfortunately, many of
the women (and occasionally men) that are building careers, growing a family and
supporting the community through outreach programs, while providing a shoulder of support for other, spouses are not getting the credit
they deserve. Instead the attention goes to those that are not living up to the military code of conduct.
A recent social media post
by a soldier at Fort Irwin has ignited a surge of comments and a whirlwind of
response to the "degradation of the military community." He comments about the
widespread lack of individual respect and decrease in sense of personal
responsibility. While I can’t say that it is true of every post, I do think
that the military community as a whole has allowed itself to fall below
standard—below the expectations that I have, at least.
There is not the community support for the returning soldiers to find work, recover their health and regain a sense of familiarity and family.
When I think back to the era around World War II (or at
least what I’ve read and heard about it)—I think of the military spouses and
families who sent the boys off to war and really dug in to support their
communities and create a valuable life for their families. Entire communities,
even those without service members in their families were hands-on, supportive
and did what they could to encourage the families and care for the soldiers
returning from war. As we are ending an era of war—a decade of PTSD,
injuries, death and changed families—by and large, there is not the community
support for the returning soldiers to find work, recover their health and
regain a sense of familiarity and family.
While negative behaviors can happen in any community, I do hope military communities develop more opportunities for
service members to seek and receive support. If the community of soldiers,
especially low ranking enlisted soldiers, continues to feel ignored, betrayed
and isolated; how can we expect them and their families to rise above these stereotypes and help bring the military community back to its luster?
If you want to help or are looking for resources to learn
more, there are quite a few organizations that are working to support soldiers
in a variety of capacities. The National
Military Family Association offers plenty of resources and support and the
website Troop Support has a fairly
in depth list of organizations that support active duty soldiers and veterans.
While we're working to increase support for our men and women in military service in their families, stop and consider your bias. There are plenty of us military spouses that are living the same lives as civilians—for better, or worse.