Debate: Does deployment make you more of a military spouse?

I saw a debate on Instagram yesterday (odd place for a debate, I know), that asked “Does having been through a deployment with your partner make you more of a military spouse then someone who has not been through a deployment?”

Here are my thoughts on the issues, I don’t necessarily agree with the wording of “more” or “less” of a military spouse, because I think that title comes to everyone who is married to a service members. However, I do think there are different levels, none of which are “better” than the others.

Going through a deployment with your partner is a challenge, and you come out the other end a different person. I think that is something to be respected and something that puts you at a different experience level than another spouse who has never been through a deployment.

I think these levels exist in other areas as well, such as combat vs. non-combat deployments. I can’t imagine what it would be like to fear for my husbands life everyday that he is overseas, and I think women who have gone through that are at a completely different level than me.

Are they “better”? No, it’s just different.

I remember when my husband left for his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. He was so excited, and I was too. I knew I was going to miss him, and I was sad to say good bye, but I was excited for him to have this experience (the one he signed up for when he enlisted), and I was excited for me to be able to challenge myself to make it though. It’s almost like a right of passage, and I wanted it for Jeremy and for myself.

Yes, I am proud to say that I have supported my husband through two deployments. However, that does not make me “more” of a military spouse than someone who has never been through a deployment, nor does it make me “better”.

I’m curious to here other thoughts on the prompt as well if you have a differing opinion!

The night Jeremy left for his first deployment - Nov 2010

The night Jeremy left for his first deployment – Nov 2010

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7 thoughts on “Debate: Does deployment make you more of a military spouse?

  1. I completely agree! Someone with more or different experiences isn’t better or “more”, but you can learn a lot from their experience. Sometimes someone’s experience can seem trivial when you’ve been through so much more, but we’re here to support each other. We should use our experience to support, educate, and uplift others, not belittle them for their lack of experience.

  2. I am curious (hopefully you haven’t already written something and I just haven’t found it). What do you think about Military girlfriends and fiances? My best friend and I are long time serviceman partners. She is the fiance of a marine who is almost done with his first deployment and I am the fiance of a Airman making his way through tech. school. Surprisingly we aren’t accepted into the military community, according to the majority. We handle the same trouble but also can’t live with our partner and are often stranded at our home state while they travel about. Do you think girlfriends/ fiances should be considered about of the military spouse community?

    • I have actually recently changed my view a little when it comes to girlfriends and fiancées. I think what you are experiencing is the way things are in the military spouse community…girlfriends are not considered to be at the same level was wives. For the most part I felt this way too, simply because of the fact that I have seen my husbands single friends go through multiple relationship. It’s hard to take girlfriends seriously when I see them as temporary. A husband and wife can of course divorce also (which I have also seen a lot of), but a marriage is much different than a dating relationship. However, all wives started out as girlfriends, so obviously there are some committed and stable relationships out there that will eventually lead to marriage. And those girlfriends do go through a lot, like you said, having to live apart and not being considered part of the military community.

      Just a few days ago 7 Marines were killed in a training exercise in AZ and one of them had a girlfriend who had just moved across the country to live with him…now that is commitment. Because she is “just a girlfriend” she will not be recognized and will receive no benefits or assistance regarding travel costs and funeral costs. Her story made me sad, that just because they didn’t have a piece of paper saying they were in a relationship, she gets nothing.

      I guess in conclusion I feel that the military community should make more of an effort to include girlfriends and fiancees, and I know my husbands command does. If a Marine says he wants his girlfriend to be the contact while he is deployed she will get all the emails and come to all the command events, she isn’t excluded just because they aren’t married. However, I don’t see girlfriends and fiancees as being at the same level as wives. Mostly because I think marriage is a huge commitment and a huge deal and it does change your relationship. I think making the choice to spend the rest of your life with someone and making that choice both privately and publicly, takes a relationship to a different level and is in turn reflected in how your relationship is viewed by outsiders.

      You might like this quote though, it’s one I think is mostly accurate (like I said, I have seen A LOT of break ups)

      “A military girlfriend is just a wife in training, nobody would go through this if they weren’t in it for the long haul”

      • I see what you mean. I run a military girlfriend/fiance support group (we have a few wives that couldn’t handle the drama of other groups) and I have seen girls come and go. However, most of the girls in the group are so dedicated. Just like the girl in your story we have a member that followed her airman all the way from Maine to AZ. That young girl is only 19 and living out in a strange area without the help of the military. We are wives in training and it is sad when I met wives that don’t give these girls the time of day. The three wives we have in the group are so helpful and give great advice. We haven’t made that formal commitment and for most that isn’t their fault. I would love to marry my Airman but he joined when I was 16 so we have to wait. We haven’t made the formal commitment just yet but it is hard when we aren’t welcomed by wives who are literally going through the same things we are. Deployments, boot camp, tech school, PCS, different time zones, separation from family, and some girlfriends are even dealing with children. I know wives and girlfriends are different but we are going through the same hurts/struggles. Guess I am biased and have seen way to many girls get told off by wives who look down on the community.

      • I see what you mean. I run a military girlfriend/fiance support group (we have a few wives that couldn’t handle the drama of other groups) and I have seen girls come and go. However, most of the girls in the group are so dedicated. Just like the girl in your story we have a member that followed her airman all the way from Maine to AZ. That young girl is only 19 and living out in a strange area without the help of the military. We are wives in training and it is sad when I met wives that don’t give these girls the time of day. The three wives we have in the group are so helpful and give great advice. We haven’t made that formal commitment and for most that isn’t their fault. I would love to marry my Airman but he joined when I was 16 so we have to wait. We haven’t made the formal commitment just yet but it is hard when we aren’t welcomed by wives who are literally going through the same things we are. Deployments, boot camp, tech school, PCS, different time zones, separation from family, and some girlfriends are even dealing with children. I know wives and girlfriends are different but we are going through the same hurts/struggles. Guess I am biased and have seen way to many girls get told off by wives who look down on the community.

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