By Anna Larson
“Thank you for your service.”
A little old lady behind me in the grocery store during a recent trip to Oregon said this to me as I was paying for our road-trip charcuterie of meat, cheese, and crackers.
“It’s your T-shirt,” she said at my surprised look. Glancing down I realized I had the word MILSPOUSE across the font of my shirt.
I Appreciate You.
There’s not a military spouse in this world I would hesitate to say thank you to. As a fellow spouse, I can truly appreciate the abrasiveness of what living a military life looks like.
I’ve lived through eight CONUS/OCONUS moves in 16 years, three deployments, and a few more years of TDYs. My spouse and I spent more time apart during the first seven years of our marriage than we did together because of his service obligations. I don’t share that as a badge of honor. Instead, it’s my way of saying that I understand how hard it can be, how rewarding it can be, and how lonely it can be.
I asked that little old lady if she was a military spouse. She told me her service member had passed away three years earlier. “He was in Vietnam,” she said. I nodded in understanding and support. Those four words held decades of meaning. Instinctively we reached out and held hands for just a moment.
“Thank you for your decades of service,” I said to her.
Community Runs Deep.
There’s just something about the military spouse community that is unique. We’re actually a very intimate group. Less than 1% of the United States population is active duty at any time and only about half of that number is married or partnered.
From the past 100 year’s worth of wars, we can bump those numbers up to account for retired and transitioned military families because, once a military spouse — always a military spouse. It’s within that exclusive group that we find the men and women that understand each other and the full meaning behind the words, “Thank you for your service.”
Behind the words.
As a new military spouse, I struggled with knowing what to say when a thank-you was directed my way. I brushed it off and deflected my gratitude toward my servicemember and his contribution. I had not learned that a spouse role is worthy of recognition. After all, my marriage to a military man and living that military life was 100% a choice. Now, not only do I embrace the honor of being a military spouse, but I work hard to help other military spouses understand the importance of their role.
We talk about resiliency and strength, but take just a moment and break down what that has meant for you personally. Do not negate the contribution your choices and actions have to the bigger mission of the Department of Defense and the branch of service your family serves through.
What have you done in the past year? Was it surviving a recent deployment? Is it facing down that looming retirement? Helping your children acclimate to another duty station? Handling a pack-out by yourself? Volunteering your time to support other spouses? Looking for yet another job at a new location?
You’re not alone in this journey and your contributions, sacrifices, and amazing ability to get it all done does not go unnoticed. I see you. So many others do, too.
As you continue to support your family and servicemember as a new spouse, an experienced spouse, a seasoned spouse, or a veteran spouse, I just want to say, “Thank you for your service.”
About Anna Larson
Anna is a copywriter and digital marketing strategist, and owner of NomadAbout, a digital marketing strategies company that helps entrepreneurs and other business owners showcase their organizations through social media, websites, and marketing campaigns what they are passionate about and how they do it better than anyone else. She is active in the military community, co-hosting a weekly business-oriented livestream and co-leading the Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood) Cha Chapter of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs.
Europe, Africa, and the United States, her family made the leap into military retirement. Anna is also a SpouseLink Ambassador with two kids and two dogs. She’s a long-time homeschool mom that loves dance parties, popcorn, camping, and snorkeling in the ocean. In her spare time, you’ll find her traveling the world with her family, relaxing around a fire pit, or on a long walk with her pups.
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