As I stood in the reception area of Ward 58 at Walter Reed Medical Center waiting for a friend – I thought about all the new milspouses I’ve met this year, all the changes in the lives of my longtime friends… and was stunned, again, at our resilience.
My friend has gone through the tension of pre deployment and the unbelievable stress of another deployment; then 17 days before he was due home, received the phone call that has changed her life forever. Her husband lost part of his left leg in Afghanistan, and has severe injuries to the other. He’s gone through surgery after surgery, and she’s been there sleeping next to his bed on those bad days and nights. She’s dealt with telling two little kids under 5 that Daddy is hurt, and with a 10 year old in an entirely different conversation. She’s dealt with doctors and therapists, relatives, well-meaning friends and demands that would dent the resolve of anyone. And she’s still standing. She hasn’t broken, she’s had a couple bad hours, but she’s still standing, still making jokes, still helping her friends when they need it. She’s absolutely stunning.
The friend who came with her to Walter Reed, a 19 year old bubbly young woman– is taking on tasks that no one that age should have to. Her husband is still downrange, and she keeps helping everyone else around her; and just applied to go to Nursing School, after what she’s seen at Walter Reed. When I think of what the word friend means – she really qualifies. After all, she’s dropped her life to help another spouse, being her gatekeeper, taking shifts to give the exhausted spouse a break to sleep or shower or meditate, running errands and being the shoulder everyone needs. Pretty stunning.
There’s Jessica – who is has managed to drag herself from the depths that she fell into, and she’s writing again – trying to help the other milspouses who are down and depressed – trying to show them that it’s not the way out. Instead of retreating and healing by herself, she’s reaching out. On her latest post, another spouse talked about “going through some stuff”; too many talk about having problems too; but they are TALKING to each other.
Another spouse, dealing with a husband with TBI, PTS, and physical injuries that leave him severely incapacitated; another who was set adrift by her spouse and is being treated shabbily is finding strength to get up and defend herself and her kids; another’s home town was partially obliterated by tornadoes and is setting out from her deployment home to go down and help others; others have books coming out, or have successfully restarted their careers or reinvented their professional lives.
Its Military Spouse Appreciation Day – go appreciate a Milspouse; if you are one you know that a “great job” from a fellow milspouse feels pretty good – so tell your battle buddy you appreciate her (or him); tell your FRG leader you appreciate what they are doing and what can you do to help; find that new milspouse and be her (or his) battle buddy.
If you aren’t a Milspouse but know of one in your neighbourhood, reach out. Say hi, if the family is going through deployment, help out. Mow a lawn, take the kids for a couple hours, invite them to dinner. If you don’t know of any – here are a few places to show your appreciation.
Donate, make a link. Reach out and say thanks.