“Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
This is probably something you have heard said to your service member more tan once…and maybe someone has even said it to you. A nice thing and it makes you and your spouse feel appreciated, right?
Well recently I was scrolling through a post in a Facebook group that isn’t specific to military spouses. A commenter mentioned being a *insert branch here* wife and another commenter thanked her for her service and sacrifice. And then it all blew up. The original commenter responded that she found it very offensive to be told that and that all military spouses would find it similarly offensive because their spouse is the one serving and making the sacrifices. Plot twist, the person who wrote thanking her chimes back in and was also a military spouse. And it just. kept. going.
Now I personally feel a little awkward when someone thanks me…but I can’t take a compliment in general so no shocker there.
But is it really so bad to thank a military spouse for their service and sacrifice? Because from where I am standing, there is a lot of sacrifice going on. Just because the service and sacrifice are different from what my husband experiences does not make them less significant.
There is more than one kind of service
Nope. We as spouses do not serve in the military. We singed no contract and took no oath. (Unless you are also an actual service member…then that’s a whooooole different enchilada.) But here we are. We move when our spouse is told it is time to move. We keep the bills paid on time (ish), the car running, the children alive, and a million other things while they are gone.
A supportive spouse goes a long way towards a service member staying in the military and having a successful career. We as spouses may not “serve” the government and the military, but we “serve” our service members in so many ways. That’s not meant to be old fashioned and imply that we are obligated to have dinner hot on the table when they get home, do as they say, etc. It does mean that what we want often comes second behind what the military demands.
There is more than one kind of sacrifice
How many military spouses are working a job they love? How many are living anywhere near where they would like to? How many have had to explain to their kids why mom/dad won’t be home for a while? How many have cried because it is just so freaking hard? The “normal” for a military spouse is so far off from what real normal is. I have had co-workers telling me how sad they are that their girlfriend was gone for a week, home for a day, then gone for three more days. I tried to sympathize…but I just couldn’t relate. Because that seems like a pretty good arrangement to me most of the time!
Our spouses make a sacrifice being away from their family. Some sacrifice more. Some sacrifice all.
We as spouses do not face that type of risk. But that doesn’t mean our sacrifices are not valid. We face a lot of challenges that the civilian community could not fathom and call it an average day. We sacrifice stability, careers, time with our spouses, and so much more because we are military spouses.
I will never claim my service or sacrifice to others. My life as a military spouse and the things I do are not something that I feel gives me bragging rights. But if someone wants to thank me for my service and sacrifice I am certainly not going to tell them that they are wrong.
Service and sacrifice does not mean just one thing. There are many kinds of service. There are many kinds of sacrifice. Our spouses know some kinds and we know others. It’s not a competition and neither negates the other.
What is your take? Do people ever thank you for your service and sacrifice? If so, how do you respond?