Running the marriage a float, constant relocation, deployments
Running head: MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY 1 Military Spouses and the Challenges of Military Life DANITZA JAMES Saint Leo University MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY Abstract Army life is unique to say the least. The subculture, with its own language, rules, acronyms and ways, is foreign to the general population. The Global war on Terrorism has brought more awareness and certainly more curiosity about Army life. (Krajeski, 2006, 2008, p. 5).
Today, more than ever, the military spouse is a pioneer who travels to strange lands, rears her 2 family under nomadic conditions, and many times copes with the stress of surviving on his or her own. (Alt & Stone, 1991, p. 11) A military spouse must struggle trough understanding his or her role in the military life, learning how maintain the marriage a float, constant relocation, deployments and many other factors that are part of being a military spouse. In addition MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY 3 Today’s military is a military of families.
About half of active-duty members are married as they enter their fifth year of service, and about three-fourths are married as they enter their tenth year of service. Therefore, in supporting the service member, manpower policy must often also support the member’s family. Family considerations are apparent in policies on housing, health care, child care, dependents’ schools, and compensation for separation from family members. Many military spouses work in the labor force and contribute to their family’s material well-being, yet at the same ime they must accommodate the demands the military makes of the member in the form of training, drills, inspections, education, exercises, peacetime operations, and hostile deployment. Also, the member is periodically reassigned, and permanent change-of station (PCS) moves generally require the working wife to leave one job and find another. (Hosek, Asch, Fair, Craig, & Mattock, 2002, p. 6) Army life is unique to say the least.
The subculture, with its own language, rules, acronyms and ways, is foreign to the general population. The Global war on Terrorism has brought more awareness and certainly more curiosity about Army life. Krajeski, 2006, 2008, p. 5). Today, more than ever, the military spouse is a pioneer who travels to strange lands, rears her family under nomadic conditions, and many times copes with the stress of surviving on his or her own. (Alt & Stone, 1991, p.
11) In addition the military spouse not only has to be able to understand the military world but the civilian word as well. The whole concept of being a spouse is redefined by the fact that it is the Military who plays the primary role in the relationship and in the way of life of a couple.The history of the military spouse goes back to the “Ladies of the Revolution” back in 1777 were some of the men would be joined at Valley Forge by their wives and families. Women MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY of those times set the tone for many military families to come. (Alt & Stone, 1991, Chapter 1) Traditionally families would follow their husband to cook, care, and nurse for the wounded, beginning the service wives’ tradition of placing the needs of the military first. 4 In a recent interview military spouses addressed how deployment, training and separation are taking a toll on their marriage.
” They love each other deeply, but Jodi says her husband doesn’t understand how the family has changed, how the two babies he remembers aren’t babies anymore. “He doesn’t know them as growing children. He hasn’t experienced what is going on here. “(, 2006, Vol. 148 Issue 17). Couples experience different aspects of relationship at a faster pace, for example; during a twelve month deployment a Soldier receives a nineteen day vacation often viewed as the “honeymoon of deployment “many spouses may argue this is not enough.
Of all the interpersonal relationships which the soldier leaves behind and to which he anxiously wants to return, the most important is that to his wife or the woman he hopes to marry. (, Chapter 11) It is also important to note that even tough separation can affect marriage to a degree of desolation; some couples establish a routine that the marriage becomes accustomed to long periods of separation. Some couples express that too much time together can also become stressful. (Krajeski, 2006, 2008, p. 55). Some couples describe separation in moderation like “a pause in a musical composition” it enhances the whole (Krajeski, 2006, 2008, p.
5). There are many things that come into keeping a marriage together such as; love, respect, loyalty, communication, and understanding, but that all is part of being married to the military. MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY Military spouses role vary in ranks, from enlisted to officers they are all seen and approached in different ways because of the military rank his or her soldiers rank may be. “The role of the officer’s spouse encompasses a set of activities that are mostly traditional” (Harrell, 2001, p.
59).Officer’s spouses often are considered to be as elite as their soldier, depending on their rank, “in fact an officer’s wife becomes an extension of the officer” (Harrell, 2001, p. 61).
5 The differences between officers and enlisted spouses also goes back to the 1700s where officers were although elected by their own man many of the officer ranks were filled by wealthy landowners and the enlisted ranks were filled by the “serving class”(Alt & Stone, 1991, p. 2). Because of this officer enlisted distinction, in this history of military spouses no husband or wife stands solely on her own merit.It is true that some spouses do not like to be referenced back to their soldiers every time they enter a room but for some it is not a choice. When you live in a military community people recognize you because who you are married, the rank and type of position him or she holds regardless of your own accomplishments. The distinction among spouses also depends on the rank of the soldier, for example; the opinion of a spouse of a private who may only have one to two years in the army may not be as important or taking as seriously as the opinion of the one who is married to a captain who may have five to ten years in the army.For spouses whose husbands are in command the expectations and the level of commitment is more extensive, some include the ceremonial change of command where the commander spouse is presented with a bouquet of roses.
Enlisted spouses are most of the times offered and given the opportunity to participate in social events, but they are less judged if they decide not to participate or volunteer their time as much as the commander’s spouse does. The Army has developed a training module to inform and educate enlisted and officer spouses on their role and expectations. The book explainsMILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY everything from rank structure, social gatherings, military protocol, formal military ceremonies, and many other referencing how to maintain communication and the readiness amongst the military families within the unit.
(US Army War College, 2006, Chapter 1-5) “Moving is a fundamental feature of the military and major life stressor” (Krajeski, 6 2006, 2008, p. 15). In many occasions military families are relocated to army bases outside of the United States were they will have to understand new cultures, new language and possibly a new way of living.
Among all the other stressors of military life the Permanent Change of Station commonly known as PCS to any military family is a challenge most families’ experience at least every two to three years and they may move about eighteen to nineteen times within a 30 year of service. (Schoonmaker, 2006, p. B2). With the constant military move come culture shock, the house hunting, new schools, new day care center, and new doctors. During a PCS move military families find themselves having to start all over again; making new friends meeting new neighbors, decorating arranging and sometimes even downsizing.All this factors play a major role on whether the soldier will move by him or herself or will they be accompanied by their family.
The most frequent issues with PCS moves are loss of income, availability of housing, changes in the cost of living and spouse employment. (International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center, 2001, p. 27) During military separation, due to deployment, constant change of zip code and long hours of training, spouses learn to become more resourceful.We can explore two different aspects of military families becoming resourceful; a military family who is stationed overseas and the one that is stationed within the continent of United States; both must use all community resources and any other means to accomplish the daily tasks.
Military communities offer a wide range of programs and services to help the spouse cope during separation. Different branches of MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY 7 the military have programs designed specially to meet their needs both in their community and in the State or Country.Often Military families find a neighbor, relative, friend or a service provider that will guide them through out the separation.
(Krajeski, 2006, 2008, Chapter 5). Deployment is one of the main phases of a military life were spouses needs more support than ever. Military families must learn how to maneuver themselves through the separation by joining Family Readiness Groups often hosted by the unit leadership and designed to provide families with updates and information on their spouse.Before deployment the family must prepare financially, emotionally, logistically and the possible death of their service member (Institute of medicine of the national academies, 2010, Chapter 4). During deployment families encounter a wide range of stressor including psychological stress and logistical challenges in caring for children and households. (Institute of medicine of the national academies, 2010, p. 74) A lot of spouses relocate during their spouse deployment to be closer to family and receive assistance with day to day activities.
Studies show that more than half of the families suffer from loneliness, anxiety and depression.The Military community family and soldier center also offers a wide range of programs equipped to help families become self sufficient during separation. Trough out the deployment phase families learn to cope with the challenges of being alone, they create routines that work for their schedule, they put their family and kids on a cycle that help reduce the stress of being a single parent. (Krajeski, 2006, 2008, Chapter 4) During the Re-deployment phase spouses struggle with changing routines. While their spouse was away at war most of the spouses become self-sufficient and they find it hard to introduce their spouse into the picture.There is many different types of expectations during the redeployment phase that range from; household shores to the relationship in the bedroom. Soldiers often find themselves stressed over how their first sexual experience will be upon their return, especially MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY 8 for the male spouse.
Military Family Life Chaplains have developed material specifically to help military couples readjust after deployment. Counselors often advice married couples to not make any drastic decisions such as divorce or separation until they have given some time for readjustment. (Krajeski, 2006, 2008, Chapter 4).The ranks, roles, expectations and everything we covered in this document will only give us an small insight to the challenges a military spouse faces. While civilian marriages experience habitual lives and do not face the same type of challenges in their marriage as a military spouse does. Military Spouse will be misinterpreted from time to time and not understood more often than not, in the best of circumstances, military manpower policy is crafted by policymakers with input from military personnel managers, analysts, and military leadership with an in-depth understanding of the life experiences and views of junior enlisted personnel.
However, this approach oversimplifies the life experiences of these families and neglects the reality that most policymakers and professional managers have never experienced the compendium of problems these couples face, such as youth, lack of education, financial difficulties, emotional and physical distance from extended family, and invisibility in a large bureaucracy. (Harrell, 2001) MILITARY SPOUSES AND THE CHALLENGES OF MILITARY References (2006, October 23). Trouble At Home. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://web. ebscohost. om.
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