Browsing the internet, I came across this graphic published by Veteran’s United Home Loans on their website veteransunited.com:
I love how this breaks down the “military spouse”. I love how it outlines how many of us there really are crazy enough to attempt this dual-military thing. But it got me thinking. Dual-military couples make up 2.8% of all military married couples. This number is undoubtedly much higher if you count up those dual-military couples who are not married (like us!). According to this graphic, 48% of all women in the military are married to another service member. NEARLY HALF! Yet, we are very underrepresented. People don’t realize we exist unless we are decked out in our own uniform. We do not fit the model of the typical “military spouse”.
Being in a relationship with a man who clearly looks “military” can be frustrating when you are also a service member. When we go somewhere, even in civilian clothing, he instantly gets asked, “What branch of the service are you in?”. I am very proud of him. He had a strong enlisted Marine career becoming a Gunnery Sergeant and is now a Naval Officer. He is smart, well-educated, carries himself with dignity and has an outgoing personality. Who wouldn’t be proud?
However, over the 28 day pre-deployment adventure, complete strangers would offer me advice on how to deal with his deployment without hesitation. They would say things such as “It must be so hard that he will be gone. My friend’s, sister-in-law’s husband was deployed and it was hard for her being so alone.” Or, “It is so difficult for the military wife, understanding what they go through.” Or, “You’re ok with the military life style? It is such a challenge to have to sacrifice for his career.” My wonderful other half would come back with “She is in the Navy too. She actually out ranks me, she’s fine. She gets it.” That is often followed with an awkward silence.
Comments like this made me realize that the dual-military community needs more support and encouragement and acknowledgement. We are not the cookie cutter military wife or girlfriend. We understand both sides: the deployed and the one left behind; the one serving and the one supporting. We are not alone during deployments because we have our own unit, we understand in an entirely different way than non-member military spouses, and we are invested in a mutual respect for each other’s careers. A non-member military spouse is not an easier job, just different. As more women join the military and marriage changes within society to be more inclusive to all types of relationships, the dual-military couple numbers will continue to grow. We need to begin a change in the perception of a “military spouse” to support the 2.8% of us that are playing both roles.