There is this thing about (most) military wives – they don’t like to ask for help.
To many, it’s thought of as a character defect – as something they just need to learn to get over and “do.”
But, the truth is: It’s what we’re taught to do. We’re taught to stand brave and proud behind our men. We’re taught that a good military wife is courageous, patient, resourceful, and when duty calls…self-reliant. We’re taught from the inside, but more than that, it’s the outside world that teaches military wives these things.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget some of the things still being fought for when it’s not blaring at us from the news and it’s no longer front-page headlines. It’s easy for communities to forget the sacrifices that many men, women, and children make when someone serves, especially in cities removed from military posts or bases. But, forgetting doesn’t make the reality fade away.
A short time ago, I was having dinner with a friend as she related some of her struggles as a military wife to me. Her husband was called up, leaving her pregnant and what felt like a million years away from him. She didn’t live near post, and it didn’t take long for the emotions and daily tasks to become overwhelming without him there. And too soon, the community and church that had vowed to watch over that military service member’s family…was mostly forgotten. She was left mostly alone to deal with it all in a dark corner on her couch.
As she related parts of her story to me, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted. I couldn’t believe people would just forget her. I couldn’t believe I was one of those people.
You see, I hadn’t really connected with this special woman before, but I did know OF her. I knew her husband was leaving. I knew she was pregnant. But, that was about it. I could try to wash it away now with excuses:
Had I known she was hurting, I would have…
She never told me…
She never asked me for…
I thought others would step up… where were her friends?…
But, you know what the truth is? Excuses…it’s all they are. I didn’t know she was hurting because *I* didn’t call to find out. I didn’t know how many people had virtually stepped off the grid because I wasn’t there to find out.
I learned the reality and frequency of happenings such as these when my husband had only just left for the first stage in his deployment. It began as a kind question from a woman, “How are you doing?” I smiled, forcing tears back as I told her he’d recently left. “Ah, well…you’ll get over it.” She said, “After all, you knew it would happen at some time or another.”
My heart froze, my face along with it. And, in that moment (and many more to come), I finally realized something: Not reaching out and asking for help is sometimes not a defect at all, but rather a learned response after having it all shoved back into their faces, time and time again.
I understand how easy it is to forget the families that serve. I know that sometimes we believe they are doing just fine, and sometimes…we don’t even know how to help. I know schedules are busy and overloaded and pockets run near empty sometimes. But, I hope you choose to remember anyways.
To all of the men and women who have given up their lives for our country – MY FREEDOM – thank you.
To all of the men and women that have served and still serve. To those of you who have given up not only being able to see your family and air-conditioning and good food, but also sometimes sacrificing an arm or leg (or more) — THANK YOU.
To the families, who go day in day out, serving their country quietly (or not-so-quietly). To those of you who give up bedtime kisses and time with your loved ones. To the wives who play the roles of both mommy and daddy, endure long days and longer nights, and comfort their crying babies when they want to be held themselves. –THANK YOU.
To the brave children who stand behind their mommies and daddies as they do their jobs far away. To the little tear-stained cheeks who trade Hershey kisses for mommy/daddy’s kisses as they wait for them to come home… THANK YOU too (You are a whole other brand of heroes to me!)
To the communities who diligently watch out for these families and soldiers, who do more than talk about supporting and loving and actually DO SOMETHING. To the people who make it their mission not to let soldiers or their families fall through the cracks. — THANK YOU
We live in a country that claims to be PROUD of our heritage and our men and women who got us here, but I pray that we become a country that is more ACTION than TALK – and that someday soon, someone’s service to this country and the sacrifice it involves will no longer be viewed as their problem/their choice but rather a community’s blessing and chance to serve and be supportive.
I pray that each and every one of you have a happy and wonderful FOURTH OF JULY weekend – and if you haven’t already, that you’ll invite a soldier and their family, deployed family, veteran, or widow to your own festivities.