Recently, in an article titled Help Wanted (National Guard magazine, June 2006) families and marriages were listed as contributing factors to the critical shortfall of National Guard (NG) company level officers. It was stated that Active and Reserve components have shortages as well. And, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention that the article also gave a fair amount of blame to NG educational requirements/targets, a lack of a comprehensive incentive packages, and (of course) the high operational tempo. None of these factors were a surprise and I could have chosen to read right by thinking about how I’ve heard this all before. I get it; they know the problem, but can they furnish a solution?
However, at that moment, my conscience was pricked, “Can I furnish a solution?”
Here’s what I came up with: I have been part of the solution for six years now. (That’s when my husband became “company level.” I was even part of the solution for the previous 10 years, when he was “in the company.”) Currently, my involvement with AWTR is an example of this. I do this by being supportive, taking an interest in what my soldier does and why he does it. I recognized from the beginning that being a soldier and/or a soldier’s wife isn’t about the money. It’s about being part of something other than yourself. It’s selfless service. That’s one of the building blocks of military service along with duty, honor, respect, integrity, and personal courage. It’s about being there for the executive powers and citizens of our United States. Not just when we wholly support it, but even when we can’t.
I know it’s hard. Deployments, long hours, questionable missions/motives are also contributing factors. But, I feel as if the Army is responding to that. They are trying to do more to take care of families and educate families, so they can sustain the military member. Resources are out there; more resources are coming. Military dollars are funding those resources like militaryonesource.com, increased veteran services, and quality of life initiatives. But, they have to be met halfway. You have got to be willing to utilize the services, comment on those services, and be patient with them in their infancy.
It’s easy to cut and run when the “time is up” if it was only about the money in the first place. But, when you run, will your spouse be running to a job that you and he can be proud of? I don’t know, maybe the answer is “yes.” That’s fine. But, what if you’re not sure? You owe it to your soldier, his fellow soldiers, and yourself to fully research all your options, make decisions that will be of value in the long run, and “use your [wifely] powers for good.”