As we near Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 7, it is a good time to reflect on what makes our Navy family strong. As service members, it isn’t uncommon to get pat on the back along with a hearty “thank you for your service.” Yet many times behind that Sailor or officer in uniform, enabling that service to the nation, one often finds a Navy family.
We can’t do our service without the support of the Navy family.
With Spouse Appreciation Day on the horizon, 10-year Ombudsman veteran Leslie Hicks took a moment to share her thoughts on being a Navy spouse. Mrs. Hicks is currently the Ombudsman for the Naval Health Clinic at Naval Weapons Station Charleston.
During my time as a Navy Ombudsman, I’ve met a lot of military spouses. They inspire me with their strength of character but in many cases it’s not something they’re born with. They gain their strength through the experience of maintaining normalcy at home when the world around them is anything but normal.
Spouses have the challenge of consistent parenting. When a ship’s crew deploys, the homework still needs to get done. When a Sailor gets a short-notice assignment as an Individual Augmentee, the team sports still have to be played. The spouse is mom and dad during a deployment, and sometimes an aunt or uncle to the kids next door.
Navy families are typically strong families, dedicated to service and willing to put in the extra work for a good life. This reminds me of a story of young mother and Navy wife I knew while both of our husbands attended an 18-month school at the Navy Submarine Base in Groton, Conn.
This young wife had been married to her Sailor for three years, and had a small child at the time. She was determined to continue her college studies while also taking care of her home.
Because of the long hours the Sailors spent in class, this spouse brought her child to day care each morning and then drove an hour to school. After classes, she drove back to Groton, picked up her child, then got home in time to study and continue her family’s routines without change. Through her perseverance and strength, she graduated from college while in Groton, and her husband graduated from his school, despite its high attrition rate.
She said at first, she didn’t think she could do it. However, she was resilient and was able to keep normalcy in her family, even though it took hard work. Today, she looks back and says the experience made her stronger. She has three kids now and says her marriage is strong, even though deployments are still a large part of their life.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is an important opportunity to recognize and honor the contributions and sacrifices of military spouses. They may not wear a uniform, but military readiness depends on family readiness. Spouses make it possible. We honor their love, their strength and their patriotism.
The Navy is proud to be associated with the extraordinary families that keep our Sailors and officers strong and ready for their service.