Spouse calls: Husbands speak out on blog
April 26, 2009
Scene, Sunday, April 26, 2009
In response to recent columns about military husbands, readers have plenty to say on the "Spouse Calls" blog. Here are some excerpts:
I have been married to the Army for 10 years. I have been on both sides — I am a vet and a spouse! I married my beautiful wife when we were E-3s, privates.
When it came time for me to re-enlist, my wife said I should get out but I told her I was staying in. I re-enlisted, and a few months later we deployed, leaving my 1-year-old at home with grandma.
After we came home from deployment, my wife said that one of us needed to get out. Of course, I said, "Well, honey, you should." But after she broke it down that with her job we would have more duty choices, and I could finish my degree, I thought long and hard and prayed about it.
A year later, I was up once again to re-enlist, but this time I chose to leave the Army. Our first duty station as a spouse for me was hard. The (Family Resource Group) never invited me out to any functions or parties. My wife’s unit deployed, and not once did I get a call from our FRG leader.
Thank God, I knew what and how to take care of things, since I am a vet. At an event when the unit came home, the sergeant major asked me how I was doing.
I said, "Fine." He said that he knew the FRG would take care of all spouses.
I stopped him in his tracks and said, "No one ever called or stopped by to even see if me and my son were OK."
He looked at his wife, who was the battalion FRG leader, and asked why.
She replied, "He is a man, and men can take care of themselves."
I looked and laughed, shook his hand, and said, "Dear, it’s time for us to leave." After that I never went to another FRG event again.
— Army Dad
As a first sergeant, and my spouse being a chief warrant officer, it has been difficult at times for both of us to fit in with the FRG or to be recognized as spouses because of being military.
We have both done as much as possible with the limited time we have to show our full support … When my wife was deployed, I can say the organizations we are currently associated with have exceeded the expectations to recognize both of us as spouses.
There have been other places of duty where my wife would not get the calls, even though she would constantly remind the organizations that she was available for events.
I say all that to say this: You have to make a voice … and show support regardless of what happens. Remember, influence can often change the outlook of others.
I have been invited several times to the spouses coffee or tea meetings, but could not attend. The fact that I still got the e-mails or phone calls … is a credit to the persons in the groups and the units involved.
Early on, before my wife’s deployment, I made sure I had a voice, and they accepted that I wanted to seen as a spouse, not just a first sergeant.
You get out what you put in. On the flip side, the organizations need to reach out.
We all can do better; so, fellas, step up for what you deserve. Society has not fully accepted women in combat boots or a man as Mr. Mom.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. Her column appears weekly in Stars and Stripes. She and her family are stationed in Germany. Write to Terri at firstname.lastname@example.org and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls