To Guard Spouse Lacey Vermeulen:
All I know about you I learned in a few minute news story that’s been making its way around Facebook this week. When the Army pulled your National Guard husband’s mid-tour leave from Kuwait you were understandably upset. But I think someone needs to tell you what you didn’t know before you worked with your local upstate New York news station to do a story about it.
I’m not going to lie; when I first read the story a part of me thought that maybe it was a joke – a satire piece that belongs on Duffel Blog or The Onion, perhaps. "Local Army Wife Demands Answers After Husband Denied Leave." Really? Surely no one could seriously be this surprised by the military changing their mind about leave. And no news outlet would honestly do a story about it with the proper tone of shock and dismay that TV news folks seem to specialize in.
But you were all very serious. You saw this typical move by the Army as a cruel injustice.
But you got me thinking. There once was a time when I, too, was a young and innocent Army spouse. I didn’t know that the Army did silly things like saying they would do something really nice for me, and then doing the exact opposite … but only after I had made major plans around their promises. I didn’t know that plane tickets or even childbirth usually doesn’t mean anything to The Powers That Be. I didn’t know that the only action I could hold the military to is that they will, without fail, not do what they say they are going to do. And I didn’t know not to believe my husband was coming home until I actually laid eyes on him.
Someone had to teach me this stuff. It took a community of other military spouses to help me buck-up and learn that the title of “Army Spouse” comes with not just an expectation but with the survival requirement of courage, strength and sacrifice.
As a National Guard spouse you may feel very isolated and alone. But there is a huge world out there of support for spouses just like you – both here on SpouseBuzz and through other social media outlets. We’ve all been there, we all know how lonely the nights are and how hard it is to explain to your child why Daddy isn’t home.
Your news story misstep -- and it was a misstep -- will probably lead to some not nice things from parts of the spouse community. Because you didn’t know this is normal some of those Facebook military spouse troll pages will probably call you names. Others will tsk-tsk over the local news doing yet another story that makes military spouse look like complainers. That kind of thing really annoys some people.
But I hope you see this letter and know that the thousands of people reading it can also remember when they, too, didn’t know the rules of military life. And I hope that through this you find the camaraderie and commiseration you seem to need.
Next time instead of the local news, who probably won’t do you a lick of good (even though it may feel like they did), hang out with us and be comforted by the knowledge that we’ve been there, we’ve done it – and we know it sucks.