combat writing badge

a MilWife knows that ...

adapted from Noreen Pribnow, Ginny Anderson, Molly Brubaker, Joanne Bujold, Kathy Rogers, Tony Delano, Fran Pasetti, Martha Major, Vicki Dalton, Meg Greenfield, Beatrice Schoengalla, Terry O'Neill, Christine Wheeler, Anita Cividantes, Sue Shugg, Ashley Broadway-Mack, Monica Pugh, Rebecca Alwine, Cyndia Rios-Myers, Stacy Huisman, Erin Whitehead, Clarice Williams, Janine Boldrin Gwinn, Michelle Aikman, Rebekah Sanderlin, Lucha Reyna, Morgan Slade, Tia Johnson, Katie Foley, Patt Donaldson, Kate Dolack, Jennifer McDonald, Bianca Strzalkowski

a MilWife knows ...

    that if you can't find humor and adventure in the military, then you can't find them anywhere.

    that a family vacation is a less than lethal OPLAN, with specific objectives and incidental prisoners.

    that family recreation is typically some variation on simulated training or mock combat.

    that Hollywood's war movies are never entertainment for her family, except to ridicule and dissect their inaccuracies.

    that zulu time and metric measurements are just acquired habits.

    that having family and friends in twelve different time zones guarantees that there will always be someone to talk with at any hour of the day.

    that gear and weapons will become part of her regular décor.

    that inventory stickers are a sign of accountability, not of belonging.

    that she had no inkling of what marriage to a servicemember would mean, nor how far her new military family would extend.

    that, as a mere spouse, she isn't expected to understand the nuances of interservice rivalry, but is expected to remain loyal.

    that one big happy family is not just a motto but a lifestyle.

    that her warm and comfortable home is a welcome refuge to any of her spouse's comrades ... with very little notice of their arrival.

    that explaining her lifestyle to civilians is futile.

    that local customs are only regional conventions that are eccentric (or even abnormal) someplace else.

    that holiday celebrations and other special festivities will always be subject to scrambled deployments.

    that special events will be all the more special for being observed when time and opportunity permits.

    that her marriage is a hostage to fortune.

    that she's had to learn to sublimate and reorient some of her passions and desires.

    that quality time is just a euphemism for short shrift.

    that family will always be subject to attenuation.

    that traditions are more important than attachments, especially to things.

    that anything worth cherishing is worth relocating ... and fixing after it gets broken.

    that wanting a good hairdresser, florist, and ob-gyn is like praying for water in the desert.

    that any plans she proposes will be disposed by the military.

    that every time the government turns her life upside down, she must single-handedly turn it right side up again.

    that every obstacle and obstruction is a challenge to her ingenuity and creativity.

    that every change of plans is a chance for betterment.

    that hurry up and wait is a chance to do something personal and private.

    that plans made in repose will always be executed in haste.

    that only civilians believe that life can be kept on schedule.

    that any friendships or arrangements are subject to intervention ... just like the crises of real life.

    that being transferred to a new assignment is an opportunity to explore and develop, to encounter and renew.

    that a hardship tour teaches self-reliance.

    that distant excursions to remote assignments teaches each family member the value of fortitude.

    that frequent transfers teaches the art of improvisation.

    that she must grin and bear it when his deployment is suddenly extended ... again.

    that trust is the bridge that keeps love vital when communication is impossible.

    that acronyms and nomenclature will be part and parcel of normal conversation.

    that she only understands a quarter of what he says and half of what he means, but that doesn't inhibit their attempts to communicate.

    that she'll never get an entirely truthful response to: "How was your day?" because she doesn't have a security clearance and the need to know.

    that she will have to serve as an interpreter and docent for any civilian visitors, despite her limited knowledge.

    that he might be talking dirty in milspeak jargon but she wouldn't know it.

    that nothing is secret in the extended military family, but some things are sacrosanct, and inviolate.

    that she gets credit for just showing up, and respect for being a good sport about the things that are beyond everybody's control.

    that she's not too proud to accept a military discount from a patriotic merchant.

    that Spartan austerity is just a polite way of saying the household budget is too pinched to stretch into luxuries.

    that government pay is only part of the whole package ... the emotional benefits are priceless.

    that going to the commissary on payday is as much her duty as his deployment.

    that she must feed and comfort the whole family ... especially her bedraggled sponsor.

    that it takes a team effort to keep dear old dad looking and acting STRAC every morning of the year.

    that her brats are more precocious and sophisticated, more resourceful and resilient than their untraveled civilian peers.

    that finding someone to love and fighting for him is equivalent to him fighting for what he cherishes.

    that she is responsible for taking care of her spouse so he can be responsible for taking care of the nation.

    that her struggles are usually isolated, and without fanfare.

    that her achievements are usually isolated, and without fanfare.

    that her ability to support her sponsor's assignment and to function autonomously doesn't alter her dependent status.

    that her profession is always secondary to his, no matter how accomplished she is or may become.

    that she is always subordinate to the organization.

    that she will have to stand in a receiving line to greet her own husband.

    that she does not have priority on a welcome home kiss in the reception hierarchy.

    that too many social gatherings are examples of mandatory fun.

    that she is not a servicemember, even though the military treats her like an item that was issued.

    that the descriptive data on her military records is as accurate as her ID card photograph.

    that her identification number is immaterial to her sponsor's.

    that her military identification card sets her apart from civilians ... except she never associates with civilians.

    that only civilians think individuality is important.

    that a hair style is not a haircut.

    that a tattoo doesn't make anybody unique.

    that uniformity is not boring.

    that only civilians think that fashion is important.

    that there's a difference between uniformity and consistency.

    that there's a difference between consistency and reliability.

    that only civilians think that consistency is important.

    that there's a difference between consistency and punctuality.

    that only civilians think that timeliness is more important than fulfillment.

    that self-fulfillment and mission accomplishment are the same thing.

    that a petty preoccupation with details is counterproductive ... but the government is nothing but petty details.

    that if her children can't understand the directions then she doesn't understand them either.

    that filing government forms for the care and protection of her kids is not unlike learning a foreign language, which is something else she must do.

    that paperwork is not the solution to any problem but is the compounding of that problem into several newly related problems.

    that Congress will threaten to reduce pay and benefits, RIF personnel and close bases every time the military is not deployed to redeem failed diplomacy.

    that, regrettably, the threat of war is the only job security that her family will ever have.

    that foreign policy and national affairs are sophomoric without a well trained military.

    that a well trained military depends upon the support of loving wives and patient families.

    that an emergency contact telephone tree is the fastest way to alert and assure everyone while assembling their assets.

    that in case of emergency and next of kin notifications are probabilities (not possibilities) among military families.

    that every promise made was sincere, and will undoubtedly be postponed and repeated.

    that promises and pledges are sufficient when made ... their fulfillment is optional, except in dire extreme.

    that a promise to do better next time will probably be followed by another similar commitment.

    that primitive may be the only viable option in an overloaded high-tech environment.

    that cold beer is a universal palliative.

    that meager fare and a generous smile are almost as refreshing as an enveloping hug.

    that if all else fails, freshly baked cookies always please the most recalcitrant obstructionists.

    that if you can't take a joke then you shouldn't be in the military!