By Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
Today is an extremely meaningful day for the entire military community: Military Spouse Appreciation Day. It provides an opportunity for all of us to take time to truly reflect on what it means to be a military spouse and just how important our spouses are to not only our families but to each Service’s mission readiness as well. Today, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to supporting and honoring all of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, Reserve, and Coast Guard spouses.
Whether it’s packing up a household and moving every two to three years or managing the home-front during deployments, military spouses inspire us every day. They rise to meet the challenges with grace and courage. Without strong support from home, our service members could not accomplish the important tasks at hand, especially when deployed overseas and in harm’s way. Spouses truly serve!
Throughout my travels, I always make a point to meet with military spouses to hear what concerns they have and how we at the Defense Department can support them better. Here are only some of the things I’ve learned along the way: availability of child care continues to be an issue, especially with hourly care programs; finding employment on the installation can be challenging, even for credentialed and experienced professional spouses; for families stationed overseas, telephone and texting services from local telecommunication providers can be extremely expensive; and DoD needs to be creative and use all communications channels, especially social media, to connect with spouses and facilitate access to information and resources. This is why I value my visits to the field – they are opportunities to find out what the real issues are that are impacting our families and spouses.
Using military terminology, military spouses are the rear-detachment commanders of the family/household. During times when the service member is away for long periods, spouses act as the planners, supply officers/logisticians, financial officers, trainers/educators, operations officers, business managers, and leadership of the family back home. In units, all these functions are divided among a well-trained staff, but in the military family, the spouse does it all!
Have you been inspired by a military spouse? I invite you to share your stories of appreciation and gratitude for military spouses that have made a difference for you, your family, your unit and/or your community. Share your appreciation and gratitude here!
I look forward to hearing from you as we join together to thank military spouses for their service.