Dear Female Servicemember,
I see you. I see what you’re doing. I see you “Liking” that picture or that status on that mean-spirited Facebook page. I see you putting military spouses down as a way to “bond” with others during shop talk. We might wear the same uniform, but I don’t stand united with you in this fight.
You see, I was and am a military spouse too. I was “just a spouse” for four years before I enlisted, and long before I commissioned. Did you judge me then too? Little do you know, my status as a military spouse is a strength. While others around me without any close military connections struggled to hold back the tears at BMT during that first phone call, I was gushing to my husband about the leadership role that I’d been assigned. I knew that the sacrifice was worth the results, because I am a milspouse. I knew hope to cope through the separation because I am a milspouse. I am a better servicemember because I am a milspouse. I will be a better leader to my Airmen because I am a milspouse.
Chances are, Female Servicemember, that you’re like me and only responsible for one financial budget – your own. So then, why are you judging the milspouse who stays at home? Why are you judging the purchasing rights of that family, of that milspouse? It is not my job to tell people how to spend their money or to question what they do all day while I’m at work. Our families have different priorities, and I can respect that. If they have budgeted for a one income family and for those fancy material goods, more power to them. If they have scrimped so that one spouse can stay home and care for (or home school) the kids, more power to them. It is only my business when the servicemember needs financial counseling assistance or if they are failing to meet their obligations and I’ve been notified as a commander. At that time, I can help connect them with the resources they need to be successful. Until then, live and let live.
I don’t even want to use the “D” word in this post, and it frustrates me to see you using it – spitefully, and towards people you don’t know. We serve in a voluntary force. Even if you’re a servicemember and a milspouse, you are no more better than the milspouse who doesn’t wear a uniform, and you’re not helping anything by putting that spouse down. Your comments will fizzle after a momentary smirk, and only that negativity will remain.
Female Servicemember, you have every right to the freedom of speech that you’ve fought for, no one is denying that. As a commander, I can’t stop you from speaking in this manner. But what I can do is take another look at your package when you hit the promotion roster. Do you promote the sort of culture that I want as a leader in my organization? Do you exemplify the sort of role model I want my junior Airmen to emulate? Do you live the Air Force Core Values of Excellence In All We Do, Service Before Self, and Integrity? Do you recognize that if a family feels welcomed, they are more willing to support their Airman’s service and therefore contribute to the mission? If you don’t, can’t, and won’t, then I can’t and won’t support the furthering of your career. Your attitude is a key factor in the whole person concept, don’t forget that.
Female servicemember, it’s time to let it go. Let’s build bridges. Let’s foster an environment that truly supports our Airmen and their families. Let’s make this an organization worthy of The World’s Greatest Air Force. Live the Core Values, like we’ve asked of you and like you’ve pledged to do so long ago. That’s the sort of Airman than I can stand by, and be proud to serve alongside.
Dear Female Servicemember,