Dear Ms. Vicki,
A year ago, my wife had the perfect life: a Defense Department job, a solid career, the nucleus of positive energy in her work environment. Unfortunately, my employment in the Army has robbed her PURPOSE, ENERGY and DRIVE.
Now we should ask ourselves, is this fair? Of course not. Yet the Machine (The Army) says, “Suck it up. Stop complaining."
My wife will tell me it is not my fault and the family comes first. However, my family is not rolling in cash. Getting a second car is not an option. Schools are at least three miles away and there is no bus service. Employment is at least 30 miles away.
My wife deserves to have a job. PCSing should be an option, not mandatory. For what my wife has endured, Mother’s Day deserves to be every day. She sacrificed her independence for our family.
My last PCS took me away from my family for two years, and the distance was putting a strain on the wallet, but the major impact was on my girls, who are 15 and 10. Still, my wife made the decision to move out to me. I thought I could find her a job.
She is coming up on one year of unemployment. Her talents are endless. Professionalism is her mantra. Find me a magic lamp, so I can grant her wish and take her back to her home.
Dear SFC LLM,
Believe me, I totally understand. Thousands of other military spouses who will read this letter will understand too.
I wish I had a magic lamp to change your situation because I would. Military spouses are often unemployed despite being talented, smart, professional women and men. We often take jobs beneath our skills and abilities and sometimes a lower-paying job outside our skills and expertise is not even available.
Those of us who have career status with spousal preference still cannot find jobs. It costs us financially every time we move and cannot find employment of equal pay or higher.
Still, we keep supporting our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coasties. I totally understand. Yes, much has been done to support our families, but some things have stayed the same.
I don’t want to impugn your wife, but this may be a good time for her to build more disposable income from home or in another area.
I know this may not sound fair to you, but it’s what military spouses have to do: reinvent ourselves. We start home businesses. We start tutoring services. We invent products. We continue our education and acquire other certifications and degrees. We do it all!
There is not a right or wrong answer in this situation, and you cannot blame yourself because this happened. You have to continue to serve anyway.
Hopefully, your wife will build a support network of friends and professionals who can help her. You have to hang in there and, most of all, this cannot take away your joy for serving your country. Thank you for your service. Keep in touch with updates.
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Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.
Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.