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... Is a Marine spouse.

I have seen many sides of military life. My father made a career working for the Navy as a civilian. We didn’t move, nor did dad deploy. When I met my husband, he was a young Marine officer at The Basic Sschool (TBS). While the wives were polite, I was a “significant other,” and most definitely not part of the family. Once married, I was immersed in the culture and quickly learned the expectations of a military spouse. The United States Marine Corps trained us to notice when others needed help, to offer help without being asked and to anticipate problems.

Even 25 years ago, the USMC realized the importance of the military spouse and family in the success of our service men and women. They understood that the family supported the Marine, so the USMC needed to support the family. They offered formal programs, such as Morale Welfare and Recreation programs, Family Readiness Centers and Key Volunteers to lend support to families in need. While on active duty — and living on or near a base — these services were well known and easily accessible.

Several years later, we left active duty service and moved to reserve status. I saw and experienced the disconnect of military life from perspective of the reservist’s spouse and family. They might attend “Family Day” once a year for a reserve weekend, but other than that, they had no idea what their Marine did once a month during their drill weekend. Many reserve spouses have not had the benefit of active duty life and are completely unaware of the services that exist to support them and their Marine.

My husband deployed twice as a reservist. At the time, we lived hundreds of miles from his reporting duty station. While I knew family support services existed, they weren’t logistically available.

Despite having limited military support, we had a wonderful community and helpful friends who filled the void. Similarly, Fredericksburg is fortunate to have the military presence it does. There is a natural sense of service that exists in military-based regions like Fredericksburg, and it benefits the entire community.

While the military and private organizations have established more virtual and reserve-directed services over the years, there is no substitute for local involvement. Friends and neighbors (whether military or not) are the key to the success of the military family.

I’m not sure the toughest job in the Corps is a Marine spouse. But I do know how important the job of a Marine spouse is! And that job is made more successful with the presence and involvement of friends, family and community.

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