Related Spouse Articles

Military Life 101

  • job fair
    Military Spouse Employment 101
    While the military will always throw a monkey wrench in any best-laid plans, your career doesn't have to be one of them.
  • (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)
    Military Spouse Education Help 101
    Good news for you: Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier.
  • (Photo: U.S. Navy)
    Military Life 101
    Military life has a lot of nuts and bolts. You know, the little things that make up just an ordinary day.
  • stack of one dollar bills
    Military Spouse and Family Benefits 101
    Don't know exactly how to get your military spouse and family benefits or want to know more about what they are? Read on.
  • Movers at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, load up a truck with household goods. Jose Ramirez/Air Force
    Military Spouse and Family Moves 101
    Whether you're an old pro or new to the military moving game, there's stuff to learn about PCSing. Here's our easy PCS 101 guide.
  • (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)
    Military Family Deployment 101
    Preparing for deployment can seem like an uphill battle. But we've been there. Here's what you need to know.
  • Military family
    Military Family Life 101
    Military life is not easy, but we've got your back. From marriage to kids and parenting, we have the resources you need.

Jacey Eckhart: No Mark of War

Sailor Silhouette 428x285

Dear Sailor:

I was unspeakably rude to you at a party last week. You bear no mark of war. So I must have I sliced you with my thoughtlessness. Will you please forgive me?

I was that stupid woman who heard you were in some kind of medical field in the Navy then insisted on telling you how I failed out of nursing school for flinching.

“I couldn’t listen to what was wrong with the patient on a film strip,” I shuddered. “I can’t even watch that YouTube video with the skater with the broken finger. Do you guys get a lot of stuff like that? Do you get the gruesome stuff?”

A stupid thing to ask anybody, I know. At that party moment, I honestly expected you to tell me nothing worse than about how some guy puked blue for three days. I expected Profound Weirdnesses of the Human Body 101.

I forgot that you were in the military.

I forgot how Navy medical personnel could be assigned as combat medics with the Marines.

I forgot we had been a nation a war for 11 years.

You remembered. You could not forget. You started telling me about the things you had seen during two combat tours in Iraq in profound detail. You told story after story. I flinched. Your friends flinched. Your friends urged you to stop.

 “I think people need to know what war really is,” you said fiercely.

So we all listened. Maybe part of the process of getting through war includes quite a lot of telling and quite a lot of listening.

I hope you left that party and forgot me immediately. I still haven’t stopped thinking about you.

Because I wonder if you realize that your war experience is virtually invisible to the naked eye? I wonder if you know there is no mark of war upon you. There is no outward sign that warns a stranger where you have been and what you have seen and what you must bear.

Although your experience may feel burned into your flesh like an animated tattoo on a continual loop around your forehead, the rest of us cannot see it. We are not blind. Unless you suffered a bodily injury, unless you are wearing a dress uniform covered in medals, we simply cannot see.

I don’t know whether the invisibility of the mark of war is a blessing or a curse. It may be a blessing because it gives you your privacy. You don’t have to answer rude questions from strangers.

It may a curse because that invisibility means I am not careful of you. I cannot treat you the way I would if I knew what you had been through. I can’t show the respect I feel.

Instead I act as if you are whole. I act as if the broken places in you will heal. I act as if you already have what I want you to have. And that isn’t always the right thing to do.

Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is the Spouse Editor for and author of I" Married a Spartan??  The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage” available on iTunes and Amazon.  Reach Jacey at

Related Topics

Military News App by

Download the new News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!


Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs at and a military sociologist.  Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan??

Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times.  Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.  

© 2016 Military Advantage