As I sat in the laundry room one day, I overheard two women talking about another spouse. They spoke with disdain about how she was afraid to drive overseas and how the only time she went anywhere was when her husband would take her. They thought she should just go home.
The two ladies spoke loud enough that it seemed they did not care that their conversation was being overheard by others.
Their conversation saddened me because I could not understand why this anonymous woman was their topic of conversation. Maybe it was easier to talk about someone than it was to help them.
When I found out about another wife who did not get out of the house much because she didn’t know many people, I brought this to the attention of other spouses. I was hoping that they would join me in helping her get out and see things and meet people.
No one seemed interested. In fact, they blamed her for her situation. They made comments like, "Some people are like that they don't take the initiative to get out and do things."
Although I have seen Air Force spouses trade babysitting, cook for one another in a time of need, and welcome newcomers, I have also seen that through gossiping, backstabbing, cyber bullying and more, we have established a culture of mean girling Air Force spouses.
Mistreating one another is not hot, nor is it sexy or cool. We are all in the same situation and it should be our honor to support one another.
As Air Force Spouses we are left on our own quite often. We should be able to depend on each other to make it through the tough times.
Instead of gossiping about someone's troubles, become a good listener.
If you know a spouse is afraid to drive in a foreign country, offer her a ride.
If there is a spouse who does not get out much, call her up and invite her out for the day.
If you are volunteering for a group like the PTO or Spouse's Club, and conflict arises, do not plan a hostile takeover. Don’t say or do mean and hurtful things to one another. Instead, take the time to work out the issues with all involved.
Everyone will walk away much wiser and more enriched from the experience.
There are some spouses already doing it right. Let's join them. Let's laugh together, share with each other, and hug one another.
While it is possible that we may come across mean people in the world, let them no longer be found in the Air Force family. It is time to create a new culture for the new Air Force spouses—especially while we are living overseas.
Let's create an environment that no matter where we travel we can be sure that our Air Force sisters will have our backs. I will do it. Will you?
Cari Brown-Hawley is a native of Philadelphia but considers Maryland her second home. She has a thirteen-year old son and has been an Air Force Spouse for nineteen years. Her family is currently stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England.