by Rheanna Christine, Guest Contributor
When I started blogging I wasn’t really sure where the road would take me. I did know that part of my identity would be that of a military spouse.
It never occurred to me that others wouldn’t or couldn’t, acknowledge that identity. It has been a silent fight, subtle and passive aggressive in most cases; however in some incidences it would be bold and blatant. It would come from the most interesting places and I would find myself becoming an advocate in ways that I hadn’t expected to.
I always considered myself a military blogger, with a twist of parenting and general lifestyle. The theme of my blog is completely military and a good majority of my posts focus around the subject. I’m super proud of it and it is a major part of my identity; a unique blog for a unique life.
My life as a military wife began in the Active Guard Reserve or AGR. Although I never identified myself as that because it would lead to too many questions, we were, for all intents and purposes an Air Force family. We lived that way for 8 years. During that time I never really doubted my position as a military spouse. I knew things were different but that was mainly because we were remotely stationed–or at least that is what I thought.
So You Say I’m a Not “Real” Military Spouse
With the rise of blogging, social media, military support forums and Facebook groups, it became painfully clear that there were those voices that did not view me as a “real” military spouse.
Comments, discussion and even blog posts about how National Guard spouses weren’t actually military spouses came across my computer all the time. My head, at times, feels like it’s going to explode in a fit of rage. Boy, that’d go a long way to make me look like a not crazy military spouse.
You may or may not remember the active duty Army spouse that was brought to the attention of the blogger, Army Wife 101. She spent a whole post ragging on the National Guard spouses she had supposedly interacted with. She also dismissed the soldiers and airmen who wear the uniform saying they aren’t real military either. The post made the rounds and eventually got picked up by her husband’s command. It wasn’t good; but I don’t know that it actually did much to change how people thought.
Just as the “branch wars” are a thing, so is this whole Active Duty/Guard/Reserve bashing.
It can be brushed off as harmless teasing; not really meaning anything, but it unfortunately goes much deeper than that.
Another blogger wrote that she wasn’t a “real” military spouse anymore because her husband was leaving active duty and wouldn’t be wearing a uniform every day. That’s wonderful, right?
Those are just 2 of many examples of blatant disregard of the National Guard and their families.
Supportive Military* Organizations
As a National Guard spouse I am dismissed, not only by fellow military spouses, but by groups that are supposed to support military families. Countless organizations always include asterisks at the bottom of their information that includes sentences like
*Only for Active Duty or National Guard/Reserve on Title 10/32 Orders.
Even speaking with those within the federal government, who you would think would understand those they represent. Speaking with one politician in particular, he had no idea all the different aspects of the Guard and what we, as families, could and could not access from support organizations. You can’t imagine how much that makes my head want to explode when I see things like that. Literally I want to start ripping out my hair!
There are other bloggers out there, like Jane Bloggs from Its Not Me, It’s You and Erin from Aim High Erin, who have spent countless years defending who they are and also pulling out their hair right along with me.
Will things change completely? Probably not. There will always be those that think that National Guard and Reserve spouses are not military spouses. These people should be dismissed as uneducated or just plain jerks, if you ask me.
But an even bigger problem is the example set by those that are called to support military families. I believe they set the tone, not only with those that are not National Guard and Reserves, but with us too. We will begin to doubt ourselves if everyone else around us is as well.
As a military spouse, who also blogs, I can only continue what I am doing: talking, writing, advocating and just shouting it from the rooftops. So, there I will be, in my little corner of the Internet talking about my life as a National Guard wife.
You can help too! Share my stuff; share the stuff of the other bloggers that I’ve mentioned or anything that you come across that supports and encourages National Guard and Reserve spouses. Talk to them. Ask them questions.
As clichéd as it sounds, change starts with you my friend. Let’s work together to eliminate those asterisks in military life.
Are you a National Guard or Reserve spouse? Have people ever treated you like you aren’t a “real” military spouse? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section.
Rheanna Christine is the SAHM mom of three spunky kids and the wife of Air National Guardsmen. When she’s not writing you can find her volunteering in the local military community, church or her children’s school. She’s a self-proclaimed book nerd, vintage soul and Dr. Pepper addict. You can read more about Rheanna’s life at cammostylelove.com. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.