No, this post isn’t about race, religion, or relationship equality in the military (although all of those are important topics and most of the following could apply). This is about military equality. Equality within the military. Let’s start with some basic definitions from dictionary.com:
Military is defined as: the military establishment of a nation; the armed forces.
Armed Forces is defined as: military, naval, and air forces, especially of a nation.
Nation is defined as: a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own.
Unity is defined as: the state of being one; oneness.
Equality is defined as: the state or quality of being equal.
Equal is defined as: as great as; the same as.
Please note that the definition above for the armed forces is military, naval, AND air forces. Not “or,” but “and.” Furthermore, we are the United States of America. We are a large body of people associated with a particular territory, and our armed forces serve and protect this country in unity to seek and possess a government that is our own. To protect your freedom. To protect my freedom.
Here’s the big shocker: The Army cannot do it on their own. The Marines cannot do it on their own. The Air Force cannot do it on their own. The Navy cannot do it on their own. The Coast Guard cannot do it on their own.
They must work in unity, in oneness. Here is a summary of the armed forces in the United States Military (in no particular order):
United States Army
- United States Army Reserve
- Army National Guard
United States Marine Corps
- United States Marine Corps Reserve
United States Navy
- United States Navy Reserve
United States Air Force
- Air Force Reserve Command
- Air National Guard
United States Coast Guard
- United States Coast Guard Reserve
- United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
To me, they are all equal. What does equal mean again? That means that one branch is just as great as another. They are the same.
Now yes, I understand each plays a different role, and each has a different set of ranks, military specialties, etc. That’s not my point. My point is, they serve the same nation. They serve the same people. They serve you. They serve me.
However, so many times I see them not being treated equal. Even amongst themselves, each branch pits against each other. Sometimes this is all in good fun and leads to a healthy level of competition. But, speaking as a spouse of National Guard soldier – I can tell you firsthand that the inequality can be hurtful, even when unintentional.
See, us Army National Guard families, and other part-time military families, are often the “forgotten” ones. We’re looked at just as the “weekend warriors.” Did you see that list above? The one of the armed forces of the United States? The one where National Guard is listed? We’re just as much a part of serving this nation as any other branch.
Let me reiterate: The Army cannot do it on their own. The Marines cannot do it on their own. The Air Force cannot do it on their own. The Navy cannot do it on their own. The Coast Guard cannot do it on their own. They must work in unity, in oneness. They are equal.
My husband has been in the Army National Guard for about eight years. He’s currently serving his second tour in an active war area. He left behind a career, a wife, a daughter. He left behind his whole life to serve and sacrifice for this country, again. And I sacrifice along with him, again. I live in the civilian world and in a community that is far, far removed from the realities of war. That’s for another post, another day.
Right now I want to address how we are treated even within our own military community. How we are compared to the other branches in the military. *Disclaimer – I don’t feel there should be any comparing. We are all on the same team.
A dear friend, a fellow military spouse that “served” with me on my husband’s first deployment, recently nominated me for the Military Spouse of the Year Award (MSOY). Huge honor. I am humbled. What is this award? According to nomination email that I received:
“Military Spouse magazine founded the Military Spouse of the Year Award in 2008 to honor the important contributions and unwavering commitment of the 1.1 million military spouses from all branches of service as they support and maintain our home front.”
Wow, that sounds amazing. What’s amazing?
- The recognition that military spouses provide important contributions and unwavering commitment.
- That there are an estimated 1.1 million military spouses (that’s a LOT of support for our troops).
- That it’s for ALL branches of services as they support and maintain our home front.
Again, I am so humbled. Yes, it was just a nomination, but to know that someone who has been where I’ve been thinks so highly of me made me speechless. Well, I was speechless, until I read the list of qualifications to accept the nomination:
“In order to be considered for the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year Award, a nominee must meet the following criteria:
- Be an ID card carrying spouse of a current member of the U.S. Armed Forces (U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, or U.S. National Guard)
- National Guard spouses are eligible if their service member has been activated for at least 180 days on or before the MSOY nominations deadline.
- Reserve military spouses are eligible if their service member has been activated for at least 180 days on or before the MSOY nominations deadline.”
Wait, what? Why wasn’t the first bullet point enough? National Guard IS part of the U.S. National Guard – so why the extra requirement of having to be activated for at least 180 days on or before the MSOY nominations deadline? Do the National Guard and Reserve families and spouses only count when they are activated (for a certain length, by a certain date)?
Well, my husband is currently deployed for up to a year. But, not for “at least 180 days on or before” the required date. My husband has deployed before. For a year. And I served along with him. And so did my friend who nominated me.
You see, this fellow military spouse has a husband too. My husband was blessed to come home physically unharmed. Her husband was not so fortunate. Through a serious of IED blasts, he had to be removed from the deployment. He worked through the pain for months. Stayed on deployment much longer than he should have, but he would not leave his fellow soldiers. It got to the point where he could hardly walk. They couldn’t find answers. This was over four years ago. They still do not have answers, and they are still sacrificing. Them not finding answers and the lack of good care for our veterans is another topic I look forward to writing about (or have her write about as a guest blogger).
Back to my point: just because a National Guard or Reservists deployment is over, or they haven’t been gone “long enough,” they are still serving. And their families are serving with them. Every day they serve, we serve. Even if only serving on “the weekends,” they are always ready for the call. The motto of the National Guard is even “Always Ready, Always There.”
Military Spouse magazine also says: “During that time (nomination period), Military Spouse magazine encourages both the military community as well as all Americans to consider nominating their military spouse friends, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues for this prestigious honor.”
I have served alongside my husband for eight years, including two deployments (one currently on-going). I’m a military spouse and serve the role as a friend, relative, neighbor, and colleague. My role as a military spouse affects each and every role, differently, each and every day. However, I do not qualify to accept my nomination. I am baffled.
I am now thinking to myself: how many other spouses have not qualified due to this additional requirement? How many were elated, humbled, and honored to be nominated, but then felt to be shamed and discounted because their service “wasn’t enough.” Please know that your sacrifices ARE enough and that you are not alone.
So, Military Spouse magazine: while I cannot accept my nomination due to your additional requirements for National Guard spouses, I want to publicly take this moment to nominate every National Guard and Reservist spouse to be the winner of the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year Award for their “branch”- regardless of your rules.
In fact, I nominate every single military spouse, of every single branch, for every single year (past, current, and future). If you need clarification as to what the United States Military is, please see above. Why do I nominate every single military spouse?
Because the sacrifice does not end with deployment. Sacrifice in the military is not defined by a deployment. We do not quit being a military spouse, even when our spouses are no longer in the service. And, National Guard members are just as much a part of serving this nation as any other branch. We sacrifice too.
We are all on the same team – the United States Armed Forces.
Please know that I think that the purpose and mission of Military Spouse magazine is an amazing one. I want to personally thank your entire organization. Thank you for supporting and loving my fellow military spouses. Each and every one of us can benefit from your resources. Thank you for recognizing those spouses that go above and beyond to serve here on the home front. They deserve recognition for their contributions to the armed forces community. I do not discount your award in any way, shape, or form.
However, I call on Military Spouse magazine to re-evaluate their nominations requirements and remove the additional stipulation for Guard and Reservist families. And no, this has nothing with me accepting my nomination. This has everything to do with Military Equality.
Please read the update in this post. I have heard back from Military Spouse magazine, and some pretty amazing things are happening!