One giant leap for military spouses
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: August 16, 2019
While Congress hashes out the details of President Donald Trump’s proposed “U.S. Space Force” — who will oversee it, how many personnel are needed, whether we can afford it, where will it be located — I am selfishly wondering what the future holds for the military spouse community after this sixth branch of the armed forces stands up.
If Trump’s plan is implemented, there will be 15,000 personnel serving in the Space Force in 2024. Since about 51 percent of military servicepeople are married, that means there could be up to eight thousand new Space Force military spouses in a few years.
What will life be like for Space Force spouses, and what effect will they have on our military spouse community?
As a military spouse of many years, I’ve learned that, although we undoubtedly have our fellow spouses’ backs when the chips are down, we’re also pretty competitive. If I had a dollar for every time I heard military wives brag about how many times their husbands were deployed, or how long their husbands’ deployments were, or how many times they’ve PCSed, or how many pieces of furniture were broken in their moves, I’d have enough money to replace the microwave cart our military movers broke back in ’98 during move number three.
Throw eight thousand Space Force spouses into the milspouse mix, and they’ll beat the rest of us Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard wives and husbands, hands down. Imagine, if you will, a typical spouses club brunch, in a combined club dining room, on a joint base a decade from now. Spouses from the various branches exchange idle chit chat at their table while they wait for crystal bingo to begin.
“Billy’s going downrange again,” one Army wife laments with a pitiful sigh.
“Jimmy’s been at sea all summer,” a Coast Guard wife moans, spearing a cube of cantaloupe with her fork.
“Tammy’s off to Bosnia for 170 days,” an Air Force husband says while picking mournfully at his quiche.
“Ricky’s halfway through his one-year IA tour,” a Marine wife sighs while absently buttering a croissant.
“When Johnny’s done with workups,” a Navy wife says with a pregnant pause, “he goes out on a carrier for another nine-month deployment. ... It’s his third.” She sips her mimosa with smug satisfaction. Her life is most definitely the worst, she thinks with pride.
But then, the Space Force wife chimes in. “Frankie was supposed to be home from the Lunar Station before our fifth PCS, but his unit got sucked into a wormhole during a routine expedition, and now they’re telling me he won’t be back until 2050. The good news is, he’s promised to bring home jewelry from the Mars BX.”
The other spouses slump in their chairs in silent defeat.
The existence of a U.S. Space Force presents more ridiculous scenarios than there are stars in the galaxy, but we’d better buckle up and get ready to blast off, because it’s coming in 2020 whether we like it or not. Before long, this new corps of superior military spouses will be prancing around our base neighborhoods like Jane Jetson, sipping Tang martinis and bragging about their spouses’ latest exploits on the final frontier. Our own tales of our spouses’ experiences with state-of-the-art ships, tanks, drones, cyber technology, missiles and fighter jets will be dwarfed by their stories of rocket launches and moon landings.
There’s no way for us to compete without looking pathetic. What can we say? “Well, at least Navy wives don’t put freeze-dried snickerdoodles in our husbands’ care packages! Take that, you fancy Space Cadet wives!”
Let’s face it — the best thing for military spouses to do is to stop competing altogether. Why do we pit ourselves against one another in a competition for who has it worse, anyway? It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. We all face the ups, downs, rewards and challenges of this unique lifestyle. So whether our spouses fulfill their duty to serve on land or sea, in air or outer space, let’s all take this giant leap into the future — together.