Have you ever heard someone say, “Happy Mother’s Father’s Day!” when sending best wishes? We know: Technically, these two holidays are separate — Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June — but if your significant other is in the military, you might know the dates as one. Military spouses who are parents instantly become known as Mom and Dad to their kids while the servicemember is mobilized for duty. And those without children don’t necessarily have an easy route ahead of them either while their partner is “over there.” They often experience feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. What can we do on Military Spouse Appreciation Day? We can tell these people “thank you,” because they serve too.
We wanted to flip the coin to hear the military spouse’s appreciation perspective, so we asked some of our military spouses at American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters: What are you thankful for?
“I am thankful for the support and camaraderie of my fellow military spouses. I have been blessed with two phenomenal mentors who helped me as a “young” spouse and still are there for me as a “senior” spouse trying to navigate the pitfalls and obstacles of our unique life. Also, I have the comfort of a worldwide network of “battle buddies” I can turn to at a moment’s notice. Their wisdom has been invaluable to me. — Chrystal D.
“I’m thankful for the lifelong friendships we made while Bruce served. I’m still best friends with some of them today. We visit them around the country, and if you ever need a stopping point to rest, there is almost always someone we know who will give us a place to stay for the night. A few of my favorite memories are from when our husbands were deployed and my friend and I would take turns babysitting while we went shopping at the commissary. She’d sit at my house with all five of our boys while I went grocery shopping. I’d come home and put away groceries, then it was my turn to watch them all while she went and grabbed her groceries. Another is when your friend comes and take videos and pictures of your welcome-home because her husband is still deployed. Those homecomings are hard to watch when your loved one is still gone. One of my very favorite things is not only the friendships we made as a couple, but those my boys made. Our son DJ was very good friends with Chris, and we were lucky enough to be stationed together twice. Almost three years ago when DJ got married, Chris was one of his groomsmen, and now Chris is getting married this fall, and DJ will be standing by his side. These are the kinds of bonds you make when you’re in the military and move all the time.” — Marti D.
“We have two dogs, and not too long ago, a group of veterans — at least 10 — came together and helped us put up a fence. I remember it being a very hot day! They donated their time and to say ‘thank you.’ I fed them lunch! This was very helpful because I live on a very busy street. The past few years, I have had a few surgeries. Our veteran friends/families have gotten together and chose a day for each household to make dinner for me and my family. They would call this the ‘Gravy Train.’ I have four kids, so having dinner planned for a good week for me to recover was beyond a blessing!” — Amanda F.
“I am so thankful for my mother, who gave so much of her time to help me when my husband was deployed. Everything from childcare to housework and meal prep, she was always there to lend a hand (or when I needed an occasional R&R break). Even after retiring from her full-time job, she offered to babysit so I could go back to work full time. Without her sacrifice and outpouring of love and encouragement, I don’t know how well I would have managed it all as a solo parent during my husband’s deployments.” — Katie V.
“I am extremely thankful for my kind neighbors who always helped out with the kids when I had a work meeting or event and had to adjust my hours during my husband’s various mobilizations or trainings over the years. I’m also thankful for the strength I had to carry on when my husband had to leave for a weekslong training when our baby was only 8 weeks old. Still healing from the emotional and physical effects of childbirth, I had to put it on a shelf so I could be there for my oldest, who was still very little at the time, and the baby. Somehow, I had what it took to power through, and I’m a tougher and better person today because of that experience.” — Stephanie H.