By Amanda Huffman
Military members are often highlighted for the roles they played in history, while military spouses are often seen as the supporter of the person serving. But military spouses have impacted history, too, and with March being Women’s History Month, it is a great time to highlight some of the women who have had an impact on the world today — both inside and out of the military.
Military spouses play a key role in the military by supporting their servicemember and especially by keeping the family together during war times when the servicemember deploys or leaves for training. As a military spouse who is also a Veteran I have seen both sides of military service and know how important military spouses are to the military, even if we are sometimes forgotten or expected to fill in the gaps when our spouse is away.
But military spouses are so much more than just supporters of their spouses. Often, military spouses get involved in their local communities through volunteer work, having a career, or being part of local organizations. And while many military spouses go unseen, there are plenty who make an impact at both the local and federal levels today and throughout history. This list is just a few of the many spouses who have impacted history. There are so many more who could be included and stories shown.
Sometimes referred to as the ultimate military spouse, Martha Washington set the tone for the expectation of military spouses to make sacrifices. She spent nearly half of the eight years her husband spent fighting the British at camp. In the 18th century, war was a seasonal affair and armies would hunker down during winter. She joined her husband during the winter and took an active role in helping to manage food, organize social events, and more.
Mary Ludwig Hays
Martha Washington wasn’t the only military spouse helping her husband during the Revolutionary War. Mary Ludwig Hays is the woman historians believe the story of “Molly Pitcher” came from. She brought soldiers water by walking back and forth to a nearby spring during the Battle of Monmouth. When her husband was injured, she took up his place at the cannon and began firing.
Julia Compton Moore
If you have seen the 2002 film, We Were Soldiers, you know that when soldiers died during Vietnam, telegrams were delivered by cab drivers to soldiers’ wives informing them of their spouses’ death. In the movie, Julia Compton Moore told the postman to bring the telegrams to her and she would deliver them. That isn’t actually what happened, though. Instead, she would ride along with cab drivers and assist in the death notification, often grieving with the widows and families of men who were killed. But that isn’t where the story ends. After the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, she worked to change the Pentagon’s notification policy and helped create the system used today to notify family members of the death of their servicemembers killed in action. In 2005, the Army established the Julia Compton Moore Award, which recognizes civilian spouses of Soldiers for outstanding contributions to the Army.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Badger Ginsburg is most well-known for being a Supreme Court Justice, but she also spent time as a military spouse. After graduating from Cornell University in 1954, she followed her husband to Fort Sill, Oklahoma as he worked on the base in the Reserves. Early in her stay at Fort Sill, she worked as a typist at the law firm of Godlove Mayhall Dzialo and Dutcher. It is believed that Woolsey Godlove (the founder of the original firm) encouraged Justice Ginsburg to take the civil (service) exam. He believed her to be too talented to remain a typist. She took his advice and eventually worked at the base, but because she was pregnant faced discrimination. After her husband’s time in the military, they each attended Harvard Law School which led her on a path to being a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Military spouses (male and female) continue to change history and leave an impact on their communities. If you’d like to learn more about what is happening among military spouses today, check out the Spouse Angle Podcast to hear about the latest news and stories from real military spouses. In fact, AAFMAA Senior Vice President and Assistant Secretary, Charlene Wilde, who is also a military spouse, was recently featured on the podcast.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.
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