As military spouses, we like to think that inclusivity comes naturally to us. After all, we so often feel left out ourselves that we would never want anyone else to feel the same way. Right?
Rewind to our September Milspouse on a Mission: ALtitude Change brunch, which included an engaging panel session where we discussed, among other things, what it means to be a “military spouse.” And that definition might be broader than you think.
The issue of inclusivity (or the lack thereof) is one that plagues the mil community despite our best efforts (a close runner up is bullying in the milspouse community, but that will be addressed in another post).
Military spouses are often assumed to fit in a certain box – in that we’re typically assumed to be female and mother to at least one child. This classification is often done to the exclusion of male spouses (how often, for instance, have you innocently posted ‘hey ladies!’ in a milspouse social media group?), veteran spouses, spouses with no children (due to choice or simply because they cannot) and yes, even active duty spouses.
We’re so glad one active duty spouse was able to carve time out of her schedule to attend the brunch, and as she so aptly put it, overcome the fear that her presence wouldn’t be welcome.
My husband recently tried to join a group in his capacity as chaplain (after being asked to do so) and promptly had his request denied, receiving a rather snarky, “Why do you want to join a spouses’ page” by way of reply to his follow-up. “Am I not a spouse?” he mused to me, having attended the brunch (and kindly serving as photographer and videographer (thanks, love!).
He totally is, if you think about it. And while we all have different struggles (as is the case when many people come together anywhere) we do have some shared experiences and should welcome each other with open arms.
There were so many other great discussions had during the event – like new spouses’ fear of coming onto base for the first time, how we can communicate better at home and what uplifting messages we’d share with less seasoned spouses, if given the opportunity.
It was a joy to be able to engage in such health discussions in a safe space – to commiserate, not complain – and try to work through some possible solutions for each other. Here are some stills and video from the event.
Our next Milspouse on a Mission event, Letters to My (Younger) Self, which will take place on Saturday, December 7, actually took its thematic cue from some of those earlier conversations. Tickets are on sale now at www.letterstome.eventbrite.com and entry is open to all spouses (active duty and non), single, female airmen and young girls ages 13+. If you’re in England, we hope to see you there!