Somebody is getting schooled about military life. This week a young Army spouse in Vermont wrote a post on her personal blog about how National Guard spouses are not Army spouses. Big mistake. Huge mistake. And everyone is rolling in on her—bloggers, Facebook, Twitter. I’ll bet her husband’s boss gets call after call today. (See Amy's take on it here.)
But don’t think for a minute that the young wife is the only one getting schooled. You are getting schooled. I am getting schooled. When people roll in with this kind of emotional intensity, , everyone is getting schooled about what is appropriate behavior in a military spouse. I am not sure I like this at all.
Sure, the first lesson learned is easy: Don’t mess with the National Guard.
The second lesson is not that hard either: Don’t hang intraservice rivalries out in public. There is now and has always been rivalries between the services. There are rivalries inside each service for money or mission or glory. The thing is that rivalries—like sibling rivalries-- are so ugly and unresolvable. Good to know that.
The next lessons are the ones I am finding hard to swallow. Yes, the Vermont wife said some outrageous stuff. But read the Vermont wife’s original set of chastisements. Read the comments. Read the husband’s defense of his spouse and all the flack on Facebook. Sift through all that and you start hearing messages that are said yet unsaid:
Good military spouses are chaste, but sexy.
Good military spouses don’t think they are actually PART of the Army.
Good military spouses support (read: don’t complain about) their service member’s career.
Good military spouses are quiet.
Obey the rules, Little Girl, or someone will fry your husband.
That is the part that gets me. Because who wants to be part of that? Who wants to always be virginal and kind and quiet and last? Who wants their life to be played as a supporting role to someone else’s main character? Who wants to be part of a community with so little tolerance for the learning curve?
I do not see how cultural rules like that build a community of strong, independent, fully-functioning families. This is a story about being schooled. This is a story about how military spouses can learn to hate the military—which really is the best way to end a military career.