This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the view of MilSpouseFest
On Veterans Day, we honor those who have served and are currently serving, but it’s also important to thank the families that stand beside their spouses. Sometimes when event organizers try to recognize families and veterans, they have active duty, veterans, and military families all stand at the same time. This can leave people confused about who the veteran is. It can make the veteran feel forgotten. It can leave military spouses feeling awkward, as they don’t fit the category of service member but are thankful for the recognition.
As a military spouse and veteran, I know the importance and difference between these roles. I also know how it feels to be a veteran standing at a ceremony when everyone is put into one category. Stereotypes are real, of course; I can’t blame people for making the assumption that I am a military spouse and not a veteran too. Statistically, that I am a spouse and not a veteran is very likely. But when I stand next to my husband at these events, when we both raise our hands, the only thing people see is a military serviceman and his wife
Veteran spouses are the hidden warriors living among us. Our haircut isn’t regulated. We blend into a crowd. Our story often goes untold. Veteran spouses just want to be recognized for the sacrifice we made. Becoming a military officer had many challenges, and there were days I didn’t think I would ever make it to the day I was commissioned.
What can be done to help families and be clear about who has served? When you ask for veterans and military families to raise their hand or stand, do it in separate sections.
“Active duty members, please stand.”
“Veterans, please stand.”
“Military families, please stand.”
Active Duty. Veterans. Families.
Three groups honored. Three groups separated. All deserving recognition for the part they have played to keep the military going. Active duty members continue to push the mission forward day in and day out. Veterans took on service and no longer bear that mission. Military families are the hidden warriors, taking care of things back home, following their service member wherever the road leads.
All three groups are important. But all three groups are different. This Veterans Day, let’s honor all who have served their country, each in their distinct way.