No Man’s War

9781619023260_p0_v2_s260x420Being a military spouse is no cake walk.  The popularity of American Sniper I’m hoping will bring more attention to the lives of military families. Angela Rickett’s, a seasoned military spouse of  has detailed military life excellently in her memoir, No Man’s War. There was something about this book that really resonated. It’s hard for non-military folks to understand what military life is really like. This was especially  … for me, as my husband is in now in the last half of a 10-month deployment, and has been serving for 22 years. Maybe I should’ve waited to read the book until he came back, but I read it anyways.  There were parts of the book that I really felt her pain, and felt like she voicing all of my feelings and emotions. I really just wanted to call her and to cry with her.

She’s singing my song in this book. There were parts of it I loved, and parts that I couldn’t identify with, but certainly understood. Her husband is an army infantry officer, and his role in the military is quite different than that of anyone who serves in the Navy. Her husband is career military, with just a few more years of service than my husband. Navy life is quite different from army life. Because of this, the lives and experiences of their families and spouses are quite different too.

There’s one thing that we all experience, and that’s loss. Ricketts husband, in his multiple deployments, and their multiple moves as family, spend a lot of time apart.  “He’s the man of the house in concept alone. He is three months into a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, with no need to even own a house key.” This was page 2. Wow. Thinking about military life, and what it’s like when loved ones are deployed, you might picture dinners eaten alone, moms and dads being absent from school programs, baseball games, birthday parties.  It’s note just that though, it’sthe stuff you can’t imagine happening, your car breaks down, the hot water heater breaks, the roof starts leaking during a major storm – all of which have happened to us while my husband was away.  Just last week with all this crazy snowy weather a pipe burst inside a wall and started flooding water in the kitchen.  Imagine me, who can’t even manage to turn a wrench, on the kitchen floor on the verge of tears without a clue how to stop the water.

No matter what a military spouse does, it’s hard to have a life or a career of your own. Angela worked before their children were born, and after they came along it became almost impossible for her to persue her own career. Her full time job became caring for them – and supporting his career, which is a feat in itself. As he became a brigade commander, her responsibilities increased too.

“Those are his accomplishments, and he doesn’t need to brag about them. It’s hard not to jump on that horse and ride the shit out of it. We want to brag about our husbands, but the wise ones don’t make this transparent, rookie move…Our husband’s accomplishments define us in a weird way. Most of us have passed up our own careers to support theirs. So we cling to his accomplishments and achievements as if they are our own.”

Throughout multiple deployments, she supported her husband, took care of their children, was active and involved with the …, and held down the fort. She deserves just as much respect and recognition as her husband gets. I’m no martyr, and I don’t need sympathy, but military life is hard. And what she has said resonates, and their struggles together as a couple, and as a family, is something most of us can relate to.

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