Spouses Serve Too

As Molly Pitcher has already observed, the public is beginning to understand -- and appreciate -- that military spouses serve their country. Last week, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, honored the service of military families like mine, and yours.

Pace received the Patriot Award from Medal of Honor recipient Navy Capt. Thomas G. Kelley and from Society President Gary L. Littrell. "I want to accept this award on behalf of a very special group of Americans, and that is the families of our men and women who serve in the armed forces," Pace said.

Pace gave the case for military families. "What I learned about families I learned in my own kitchen," he said. "I learned from my family, and from watching so many others, some very basic truths about the American military family."

He said that when servicemembers deploy overseas, they know when they are in danger. Besides, they are with superbly trained and equipped units that are capable of getting them through the battle. "If you've got to be in battle, there's no place I'd rather be than in a company of Marines," Pace said.

But families don't have the luxury of knowing when their servicemembers are in danger. "Every day that we're in combat, they think we are being shot at," Pace said. "It's an enormous strain on them."

He said that if servicemembers are wounded in combat, the families help them recover. "And if we get awards, they stand in the background as if they had nothing to do with it," he said. "And when we get tired, they dust us off and put us back in the fight and remind us how important it is to the nation. And when we get killed, they suffer for as long as they live."

Pace said the children of military members often make the greatest sacrifices. "I had the great honor of standing next to a 12-year-old young man - David Smith," the general said. He is the son of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions in the Battle for Baghdad in 2003.

"As I stood there in Washington, D.C., on the Mall paying respects to Gold Star families, and held that young man's hand in mine, I was overcome with the sacrifice that he had already made for his country," Pace said. "Our families, quite simply, serve this country as well as anyone who has ever worn the uniform."

I agree.

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