Dear Civilians: What Every Military Wife Wants You to Know

Note: I may earn money or products from the companies, products, or links mentioned in this post.

Before I was a military wife, I had no idea what it was like. I didn’t know much about the war, what was going on, and I knew absolutely nothing about military life. After my husband (then fiance) joined the military, I soon discovered a whole new world. A world that people seem to forget about if they do not watch the news and one that they do not know much about. Not only do people not consider what current military families go through on a daily basis, but also we forget about those military families in the past during other wars that helped give our country the freedoms we have today.

Being a military wife has made me so much more patriotic. It has made me more aware of the freedoms we have, why we have them, and the sacrifices that have been made by others so we could keep them. My goal since becoming a military wife has been to encourage other military wives, but it has also been to let people know what these families- these wonderful military families go through every day.

People ask me, “How can I help?” or “What can we do?” Well here is a wonderful post full of ideas to help. Don’t let not knowing what to do, or not understanding what military life is like keep you from being there for a military wife or loving on a military family.

Below is a list of questions asked by a very good civilian and blog friend of mine. She came to me asking me to write this post so that she could know what it was like to be a military family and so she could know what to do to help. Go Paula for taking that first step forward! Please visit her wonderful blog: Hopeful Future and give her some love! Paula has asked me a list of questions about military life and deployment and below are my answers and also the answers of other military wives that I have polled. I hope this helps others see that while we love our lives, they sometimes can be difficult and unique.

Paula asks…


1. What kind of support could friends offer your husband or his (Troop? Group? I’m totally clueless as to what they are called…)
It’s called a squadron. At least that is what it’s called in the Air Force. It may be different in other branches. And actually it just so happens that my husband’s squadron does not deploy as a unit. So if you sent something it would be per person not per squadron. If there was some kind of support you wanted to offer a deployed military member, I would say care packages, letters, and emails. Anything that you can send that would make him feel better or that would be encouraging to him. Cookies are very much appreciated! Depending on who you are sending it to, you could ask his wife/family what things he might need or like, such as snacks and toiletry items.

2. If I lived close to you what would be the biggest help and/or support I could be to you?
I know a lot of civilian friends who feel the same way. They want to help, but they just aren’t sure how to, and while a blanketed statement such as, “If you need anything let me know” or “Let me know what I can do to help” is nice, it sometimes is embarrassing for us to have to ask. We don’t want people to think we can’t handle ourselves and our family while our husband is away. So here is a list of things you can do without asking:

  • Do her yard work. Things such as mowing the lawn, raking, or shoveling are very helpful.
  • Invite her over. On a weekend(s) for dinner or game night or any night. Weekends are the hardest day of the week for military wives because that is usually the time we would spend together as a family or on a date night with our husbands.
  • Babysit for her. Don’t ask her to tell you when she needs you, say that you would like to help out or give her a break once a week or once a month and have her pick a day.
  • Invite her over on special days or holidays. Days such as her birthday and anniversary and holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Fourth of July are hard for her while her husband is gone. Invite her over or make sure she will not be alone on those days.
  • Church. If you go to church together ask her to sit with your family in church so she does not have to sit alone.
  • Grocery Shopping. Offer to pick up groceries for her and she can pay you back when you drop them off.
  • Bring her a meal.
  • Don’t just ask her how she’s doing. Chances are she will say she is fine and chances are that she’s not. Instead, tell her hi, give her a hug, and tell her that you care about her and are praying for her. Then actually pray for her.
  • Listen. Military wives need a friend. Someone to vent to and another adult to talk to since it’s just her and the children all day long.

(This list was compiled by me and my friend Aprille whose husband is in the army and just completed a year-long deployment)

If you were to ask me which ones were the most important to me from that list, I would say babysitting and the “bring her a meal.”

Babysitting – I can’t tell you how many times I have needed a sitter, because of the doctor’s appointments I go to for my health problems or because I just want a break or to go out with a friend, but sometimes I can’t afford to pay someone. EVERY single military wife needs a break. Most are home all day alone with the kids and don’t have any help. Having someone watch the kids even just so she can clean the house or be alone for a few minutes is a bigger help than you would think.

Bring her a Meal – Military wives don’t really see the point of doing much cooking when their husband is gone. Of course they make food for the kids, but we try to keep it nice and easy. In my case, because Adam has food problems he eats separately from me so I make food just for me. Many times I just buy the frozen food dishes because it’s so much easier then making a whole meal, getting the dishes dirty, etc. I have loved it the times someone has sent food home with me because then I don’t have to worry about what to cook or eat another frozen food dish again!

Last but not least:

Remember: It’s not too hard to think of things to do to help. Just think if you were on your own what would YOU miss? What would be nice for YOU? – Briana

3. We both know  that I’m far away, and most of your non-military friends are too, so how can we help and/or support you from afar? There have been several times that I’ve seen something that made me think of you, but I didn’t know if it would be weird to send you little gifts or cards to brighten your day while your hubby is away…
Not weird at all! Some people think that care packages just apply to military members, but you can also send them to military wives and/or kids! I know that it would help cheer me up, encourage me, and make me feel loved too.

Here are a few other things you can do too!

  • Check in and see how she is doing on a regular basis.
  • Be available to talk/chat. Sometimes She just needs or wants another adult to talk to or to vent.
  • Pray. Pray for her and pray with her.
  • Go visit her! If it’s possible and if she’s up for it go and stay with her for a week or two. Or invite her to your place for a mini vacation!
Credit: Kelly West Mars (kellywestmars.com)

4. What about Adam? How is he taking his daddy being away? Is there anything a friend could do for him? (If not your son specifically, do you know of common needs of the children of people who have been deployed?)
All military children are affected by deployment, but depending on their age sometimes it’s harder to see. My husband left when Adam was 16 months and honestly, I don’t think he really understood what was happening. He kind of just went on with life. But I do sometimes see little things, that let me us know that he still loves and misses his daddy. He is excited when we Skype, he waves and blows kisses to his daddy on Skype sometimes, and he goes around saying, “Da-da-da” a lot.

But even at this age there is a lot someone could do to make things easier for him. Here are a few:

  • Play dates. I find that the times he is playing with other kids are his happiest. Having people who are willing to do play dates with us and being understanding of behavior problems that may arise because daddy is gone is a must.
  • A “big brother.” While daddy is gone Adam still needs that male attention. Someone who is a little older or even an adult, teenager, or big kid who would be willing to wrestle and have fun and get down in the dirt and do “boy stuff” would be perfect and very helpful to him while he is missing his daddy.
  • Special attention and a little TLC. I’m not saying that he needs to be spoiled because his daddy is gone. But people letting him know that he is still loved and giving him a little extra attention would be helpful to him so that he does not feel left out.

“Honestly when you have little babies who are unaware of daddy being gone the thing they need the most is a sane, loving, and relaxed mommy, so again I would just reiterate the need for mom to have a break. Lots of TLC for mom.” – Aprille

5. Ok, I am one that always puts my foot in my mouth, so what are some cliché sayings that people say to you that just get under your skin?
Ohh yes. We military wives have a long list of them and we more than appreciate you asking about them!

  • “I could never do it.”
  • “I thought the war was over!”
  • “Do you miss him?”
  • “What if he dies?”
  • “How do you do it?”
  • “I know how you feel. My husband has to go away on business trips sometimes too.” (Honestly, there is a huge difference between a deployment and someone going away on a business trip.)
  • “I thought the war in Iraq was over!”
  • “I thought you made a lot of money.” (Actually military members are paid very little.)
  • “Well, you knew what you signed up for.” (That may be true, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard and we don’t still need help.)
  • “Why can’t he come home for… Christmas / anniversary / birthday / birth of a child / wedding / family reunion / death, etc.?” (When a military member is deployed they are not allowed to just drop everything and run home. Only in matters of emergency: life or death, can they come home. And even then sometimes they will not be able to. It just depends on the situation and where they are at the time.)
  • “Don’t you miss sex? I couldn’t do it!”
  • “How long is he going to be gone? Oh…that’s not bad.” (I’m sorry, but gone is gone. None of it is fun).

If you want the explanation for some of these and why we don’t appreciate these sayings check out this link: What Not to Say to a Military Wife.

Also, I have one more thing to say on this topic. Please don’t: pity us or give us looks of pity. Military wives do not want to be pitied, they want to be loved, cared about, and prayed for.

Credit: Uploaded by: pinterest.com/Bravotango/no-ordinary-love/

6. What is something that people don’t say enough?

  • How are you? (But really care and want to listen to how we are doing)
  • Just simply, “I’m here for you” without any questions asked.
  • “Would you like to come over for dinner?”
  • “Do you have someone helping with the lawn work?”
  •  “Would you like to go do something this weekend or hang out today?”
  •  “Do you have somewhere to go for the holidays?” (And if not, invite them over that day!)

Military wives speak out:

  • “For me, actions speak louder than words. Instead of making a general, ‘I’m here if you need anything.’ etc., volunteer to do SPECIFIC things.” -Kayla
  • “THANK YOU! In the 6 years that my husband has been in, I think he’s only been told ‘thanks’ like 5 or 6 times.” –Stephanie
  • “It’s not that people don’t say these things enough, it’s that their words are rarely backed by action.” –Danielle
  • “I wish people would say, ‘I care. It matters. What he does is important.’ And truly MEAN it. I sometimes feel they say what they do because it’s in context of the conversation. Almost obligatory…” -Errin

7. If you could tell us civilian wives one thing to help us understand what it’s like to be in your shoes during deployment what would it be?

  • “It is the hardest and scariest thing I have ever done. And while that really is the case, it is also a learning and growing process. We love our husbands and we support them. Even though it’s hard we are still blessed.” -Me
  • “We don’t go through deployments because we want to. We survive them because we have to.” –Lauren
  • “Sometimes you just have to hide behind smiles and pretend nothing is wrong.” -Kaitlin
  • “Being in the shoes of a spouse of a deployed service member is like wearing shoes that don’t quite fit but they were too cute to pass on. You wear them day in and day out because they go with everything but each step pinches just a little bit and feels off. I love my husband and can’t imagine life without him – each day during a deployment stings no matter how great it is because he’s not with me.” -Becky
  • “I know you can’t understand…but for once, stop saying that you don’t/can’t understand and just TRY.” –Aprille
  • “Sometimes being a soldier isn’t what he does, but it’s who he is. You don’t have to understand that to be our support. You just need to be a friend.”  – Kim

8. Do you think the average military wife has the support and love she needs from her friends and family while her hubby is away?
After polling tons of military wives on Facebook, I have come to the conclusion that it’s about 50-50. It depends on the type of family they have, where they are stationed, if they just moved to that state or if they have been there awhile, if they have a church family, and if they have good neighbors. However, almost every single person said that other military spouses are their best support, both in-person and through online support, not civilians. Mostly because another military wife is going to understand better what we are going through.

Military Wives Speak:

  • “It kind of depends I think. I know some military spouses that are very ‘connected’ in terms of having lots of supportive family and friends who understand. I really battle with feeling alone even though I have support because I am a National Guard wife living hours away from my hubby’s unit, and I don’t know any military spouses here.” -Rebekah
  • “If they are military then yes, I would say for the most part. But ONLY if you put yourself out there to FIND a support system. For me my whole family and friends are civilians and they have no clue nor do they care about the things they could do to just ease the deployments.” –Lauren
  • “From their family? I would say no. I know I don’t because we are the only military in my family so no one else understands. From my friends, yes and no. I have some military friends, but my civilian friends don’t understand at all.” –Stephanie
  • “Not really. Military wives form too many cliques. My family lives too far away to do much.” -Amanda
  • “My immediate family and military friends are. Civilian friends not so much…which is why I have very few of them!!” –Aprille
  • “No, I feel like our credit is lost! We become mom and dad all while our spouse is away and we are almost living a single life. There’s a lot more emotionally involved in all of this that takes place. Not to mention, the simple task of shopping takes 3 times as long. My family is great and they all understand what I’m going through and help out amazingly. But that’s not the case for everyone.” -McKenzie
  • “I know that a lot of civilian friends really don’t get it, but when my husband was gone for 2 months I only had civilian friends and even though they didn’t understand what I was going through they tried and they really helped me out. It was good to at least have someone that was willing to be there for me whether they got it or not. -Jessica
  • I would say from experience before I met my husband, I had no idea what military families went through. I was almost oblivious to it, especially since my family growing up had no one enlisted so we never talked about it much! But once I married my husband and went through 3 long deployments, I definitely approach military families differently and try to help them out and support them as much as I can! I had a lot of support from my family and friends, but the most came from those who actually went through deployments before. The best thing {besides prayer of course!} was just venting or talking with the military wives who became friends/family to me. I tried also not to get upset at those who didn’t call enough or try to help out enough, because sometimes people are just oblivious and don’t understand what we go through as military wives! –Sarah

9. If you do not have that love and support, what is the MAIN thing that is missing (that a friend could provide) from your life, or from the lives of others you have seen.
Every military wife is different, but for me, I am not very independent. I don’t like to be alone. I would love to have someone to talk to most of the time or to hang out with. I think the main thing is to just be there for them. To listen, to hear them cry and to vent, even if you don’t understand what they are going through.

10.  This is one I always feel awkward about… I don’t know how often you get to talk to Jon etc. so should we ask how he’s doing? Or when you talked last? Or let you bring it up when you want to?
Yes, please do ask how he is doing! I have felt sad in the past when I have gone to parties, church functions, or other things, and not a single person asked how my husband was doing. It makes me feel like no one cares, even though I am sure they do, and they just didn’t think about it. You can ask when we last talked, but just know that every deployment is different. Sometimes we get to talk a lot and other times we may not get to talk very much at all.

Homecoming – Also please keep in mind that if you ask about specific dates or when he is coming home, we may not be able to talk about it. There are rules called OPSEC that sometimes don’t permit us to say things especially online. Also, the dates tend to change a lot and never stay the same, so while you might want to ask, keep in mind that she might not even know when he is coming home, or she might know, but it could change again later.

11. What is the best thing some one has done for you since Jon’s deployment?
Throughout this deployment there is one person and her family that has always been there for me, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them. The Russell family (also a military family) has become my greatest support system and Mrs. Russell has become the person I go to to ask questions and get advice, cry to, or even to just vent to.

They have invited Adam and I over for Sunday lunch almost every Sunday that they could since Jon left. They invited me to sit with them in church so I don’t have to sit alone. Their sons take time to play with Adam and make him laugh, and their daughter, Emily babysits for Adam on almost a  weekly basis and sometimes several times a week. Sometimes she even does it for free. They have even let me borrow their car for a few days when I had car trouble.

For the first several months they watched Adam for free so I could go to yoga class. They told me thy wanted me to have some time for myself and they wanted to do it for free to bless me. Mrs. Russell has gone to the hospital with me, given me advice, talked me through my son getting sick at 3 in the morning, prayed with me, driven a total of 6 hours with me to see a specialist, and listened as I cried and cried when Jon’s grandpa died. Mr. Russell, has helped to fix my car, my vacuum, and my internet! He has also given Adam haircuts even though he screams and cries very hard. I can’t even begin to say what a blessing they all have been to me.

12. Any last words or thoughts for civilian wives?
Thank you to all that have read this, and thank you to all the civilians out there who have helped me and been there for me personally. I appreciate it!

Posted with permission from: yourlocalsecurity.com/in-good-measure/support-military-wives

(All bulleted items are lists that were put together by myself. They include responses that are not only from myself, but from other military wives who were polled through Facebook. I gave credit where I could, but not all of them are marked.)

Be sure to check out the follow up post: Dear Civilians: What You Need to Know About Military Homecomings and Reintegration

Another great resource: Understanding Your Serviceman

Paula is the one who came up with the idea for this post and asked all the questions. Here is a little about her, and I hope that you will take the time to check out her blog and show her some love!

Wife at 18, mom at 20 – two of the best things that ever happened to me. I love my little family, would not trade them for anything! I’m looking back to learn and to heal, looking forward to a future full of hope and joy (regardless of circumstances) and living today. My past can’t steal my today or my tomorrow unless I allow it. I blog about life, love, marriage, parenting, faith – and everything in between at: http://www.hopefulfuture.blogspot.com

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  1. Thank you for writing this. Sometimes I just don’t have the right words to explain this to my civilian friends or the newly married military wives I meet.

    1. Thank you, and I agree sometimes it hard to think of something to say right on the spot and it’s not until later that you are thinking why didn’t I say this… and this.. and this! lol Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Whoa you know, I will definitely be passing this on to my civilian friends so that they can have a little more understanding about what we go through as military families! This has put down everything that I could not find the words to explain to those that have no understanding of what we go through! Well done. xx

    1. Thank you Shell. I think it is a great thing to share with all civilians. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this blog. I have been dating my boyfriend for about a year and a half, and have gone through him leaving for a couple of months at a time, but this summer will be the first deployement that I have gone through with him. I found everything you said, very helpful, both as a civilian and new military SO. Thank you, and I look forward to keeping up with your future blogs. I will be looking for advice on surviving my first deployement soon.

    1. Hi Danielle,
      So glad you found my blog and that this post helped you! I find it true for myself to remember to help other military wives going through deployment. Good luck with your first deployment, I am currently ad the end of our first so I have plenty of posts I wrote during the rest of it. I hope that things go well, stay strong! 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this post. As the wife of a reservist, I often feel extremly isolated. With a lack of even a “military” family, or any sort of base support, and the reservists families scattered throught not the town, or even surrounding area, but entire region and country, you really feel alone. While we are both civilian and military we still face the same obstacles from straight civilians during periods of separation from our loved ones. Our base, being reserve, has nothing to offer during deployments, families aren’t “connected” and so reading a post like this helps to remind me that we aren’t alone. Thank you.

    1. Hi Cathryn,
      Thank you so much for commenting. I have heard this so much from my other friends who are reservists and i wish there was more that could be done for support for all of you. I am glad this post helped, and I hope it helps people realize that there are people like you who need help and support as well.

  5. I am the Military Program Manager for Sittercity for Military Families. I really enjoyed this blog post. It was very helpful and full of great detail. I particularly found the infographic at the end extremely telling. I plan to share the link on our Facebook page.

    Thank you for sharing this inofrmation!

    Military famillies have free memberships to Sittercity thanks to the DoD. Families can access their free account at sittercity.com/dod

    1. Hi Lauren,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I am so glad it was helpful. I know all about Sittercity and the free account for readers, it’s been advertise here quite well. Would you be interested in writing a guest post about it so that my readers could know a little more about it?

  6. my husband isn’t in the military but he works 80-100 hours a week in a salaried job that doesn’t pay more for working those hours. I have lots of military mama friends and we are super close. I do, however; wish that people knew how difficult it was for me as a non-military wife. Nobody bothers to ask me for help, despite the fact that I rarely ever lay eyes on my husband, and neither do our 3 children. People should be aware that ALL women, especially ones who are raising their children alone no matter WHAT the situation is, need help and a break from time to time. A deployment may not be the “same” as what I deal with but it doesn’t make my situation any less difficult.

    1. Hi Summer,
      Thank you for sharing your situation and story. I totally agree. My mom was single mother since I was 15 and I don’t remember her getting much help or a break either. I think people need to have more compassion and love and look around at those around them in need whether a military wife or not. Thank you for pointing this out. Prayers go out for you in this difficult time.

    1. I’m so sorry! I didn’t know who the credit went to. I changed it so now it’s pointing to your site. Thanks for letting me know.

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  8. You hit the nail on the head!!! Not only is it good information for civilians, but also for military!!! Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we need during deployments and forget about others!!!! Wonderful post it was a pleasure to read!!!

    1. Thank you Gizelle, I totally agree with you! Sometimes it’s easy to just think about ourselves, but it’s nice to see ways we can help out our fellow spouses too! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    1. Omg. Yes. Thank you! My husband is in the marines, but I’m not. Total civilian right here. Virtual high five.

  9. AWESOME!! I shared with my FRG it is easy to use your words to share with family and friends the verbal fumbles and the way to prevent or correct them. This needs to be part of the predeployment packet to extended family and friends!!

  10. Wow, this brought back lots of hard, sad memories. My retired husband was in Desert Storm & had tours to Korea along with all the training and school deployments, yes, it’s like a singles life, but also like a grieving when they leave. It hurts so bad when they are gone and yet no one understands. So many birthdays and anniversaries spent alone. Births of children – done alone – school graduations – done alone, but let’s not forget the grieving father that misses all the special events in his families life. Wow – i just thought of a little photo book to send the absent parent of the special occasion to make him feel like he was there!
    This all makes me want to cry, but awakens my spirit to the ongoing needs of our Military Families.
    Thank you and God’s blessing, safety and speed on the return of your loved one(s) to all who took part in this.

    1. HI Brenda,
      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing, this was beautiful. I agree it is like being single and I really did go through a grieving period. It’s such a sad time to go through. Thank you for the encouragement. God Bless you.

  11. Thank you for the post. It brought tears to my eyes- as I have never known what to do for military families at church or in the community. My boyfriend is currently deployed and after spending time bonding with a few of the wives of his teammates, I now realize how strong they are. And how strong a military wife needs to be.

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thank you for stopping by and for commenting! I am glad this was helpful to you. You are strong too, never doubt that! Girlfriends have a tough job too, thank you for supporting him and hang in there! 🙂

  12. This piece brought tears to my eyes and summed up everything Im feeling right now. I just got married and my husband leaves for deployment soon. I feel so much better after reading this. God Bless you Kathryn. I will sleep a lot sounder tonight.

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Thank you so much for your comment, I am so glad this was helpful to you!! Have you looked at the other deployment posts on my blog? There is a lot of encouragement here for you, as my husband deployed for the first time last year and will be going again in a few months. Let me know if you need anything, will keep you in my prayers during this time!

  13. I think your answers were very well written, and I do realize that this article is about military wive. But when talking about deployed members you constantly said “he/him.” As an Active Duty Member myself, also Married to an Active Duty Member that is one of the things that wives do that gets under my own skin. We are service members and spouses too, and our job is equally as hard if not harder. My husbands squadrons spouse group never contacted me because they, “figured I was fine because I do it myself.” Just another perspective to consider. 🙂

    1. Hi Ellie,
      I’m sorry that it is offensive to you and I do support our women in uniform as well. I guess it’s just easier to refer to he/him on a blog written for wives… but I will keep that in mind for the future. Thank you for pointing that out!

  14. Love the ‘what not to say’ part, but the one I hated the most while my husband was deployed was: “well, at least you don’t have kids. that must make it easier”…I could write a novel as to why not having kids did NOT make it any easier!

    1. Wow I’m sorry you had to hear that. Our first deployment was after my son was born, so I have always had children during deployment. I have never thought of that though, thank you for sharing with us!

  15. Pingback: What military wives want civilians to know… | A Better Me Day By Day
  16. This blog was VERY helpful. I’m still in college, not married or anything but I am interested in the military and so are my closest friends. I was taught from a young age to respect service men/women and what to do to thank them etc. It was only until I got older that I really valued what they have given up to protect us. I’ve taken a few courses at school through their ROTC program which has also heightened my patriotism and respect for those who serve. I have many family members who have served and aunts who have been military wives. Civilians are not aware that the families also need TLC. I’m very glad you have created this blog so civilians CAN know how to help or support military families. God bless you and your family. Thank your husband for his service.

  17. Hi Kathryn! I just recently came across your blog and I LOVE it. My boyfriend of 8 years is going on his first deployment in August for 9 months. I’m really looking forward to reading more of your posts; they’re great. This one is especially awesome. I wish everyone could read it, especially the part about what NOT to say. My favorite is “How long is he going to be gone.. oh that’s not bad.” I’ve been getting that a lot, and it’s so frustrating. It’s nice to know there are people out there who understand. Thank you for having such an awesome blog!!

  18. I don’t agree with all of that but do strongly on 2 points. I just wish my civilian friends and family would ask me to hang out now and again and have my son for a couple of hours or so to give me a little break. It hurts when no one invites me out, not even my own sister! Yet they go out with each other now and again. I don’t drive either so it would be a great help if now again my sister could offer to take me to the grocery store when she goes with her husband, but no! I only have my sister out of my family here and a couple of friends. None bother me really. I always feel really lonely when my husband is deployed and no one is ever there for me. If I ask for help sometimes when I really need it. I just get made to feel like a burden and get the impression they don’t want to help.me out or feel like im asking to much from them and Ive only asked for a couple of lifts to go to the doctors! I would of been happy to help if it was the other way round with no experience of being a military wife. It really is depressing!

  19. Newsflash, ladies: Unless YOU are an enlisted person, warrant officer or commissioned officer, YOU ARE A CIVILIAN, too. Being married to a military member doesn’t mean you are no longer a civilian. If you aren’t an actual military member, you are a civilian. Get off your high, high horses! This kind of stuff is what gives ALL military spouses a bad reputation.

  20. Can I just point out that this whole thing is something written from CIVILIANS to CIVILIANS? The Military is your husband/fiancé/boyfriend’s job, not yours. You are married to them but you’re still a civilian, you’re not serving. I’m not bashing or anything like that because my husband’s also in the military but I don’t call myself “military wife” or whatever because I’m just his wife ad that is it, that doesn’t make me a non civilian person anymore.
    If you don’t want to be called “civilian”, join the military.

    1. First of all, we actually do get all the benefits that our husbands do. We use the BX, commissary and my entire family lives on the base. We get military insurance as well. That goes to show you how much you know about military life. Yes, military wives are civilians, but we are a military family. We are not asking for much just a little help holding down the fort while our husbands are off at war. During my husband’s 7 month deployment, my son was in the hospital, my car broken down 3 times, and my son had to be tested for autism. Those were all things I had to go through by myself. And yes, I did it, but the point is it was nice to have a little help too. Some support from friends who let me know I was not alone in all this and who helped us out while my husband was away so he did not have to worry about us.

  21. And btw…OMG you have to be joking me. You don’t think “civilians” have their own lives without doing everything for a “military wife’s” ass?you can mow your own lawn an coo your own food. What do you think us “civilians” sit around all day doing nothing? Oh and what and what we should not say? I’m not going to be groomed by anybody. Dear lord you are a special kind of stupid. I hope you wake up and realize that yes y’all may have it had but so do every day people. You are nowhere near errrr than us or are going through worse than us.

    1. One of the best things anyone has ever done for me was mow my lawn when my husband was gone – the kids were 15 months old and 2 WEEKs old, my husband deployed to Iraq 6 weeks prior (so he missed the birth of our second son), and housing was going to stick it to me if the grass wasn’t cut. my neighbor cut my grass, and I’ll never forget it. Still makes me cry just thinking about how something so small can be so meaningful.

    2. Hi Melissa! I’m so sorry this has raised so much anger in you 🙁 It sounds like you could use some cheering up and some folks to help YOU out around the house – we all need a little help every now and then don’t we? I hope that you are treated with more grace, respect, and acceptance than you have treated Kathryn and her family. If her writing offends you, best to move on to another blog 🙂

    3. Melissa,
      Sounds like you have had a rough go of it, and maybe met some military spouses who were not great representations of the group as a whole. I’m sorry for that.

      However, I don’t think you should condemn unless you walk a mile in our shoes, and you certainly shouldn’t bash our spelling when you yourself seem to have a hard time with the basics.

      Personally, I myself have a Master’s Degree, and many, many, many, other military spouses are highly educated, wonderful men and women. Kathryn, who keeps this blog, included. If we, as a group, offend you perhaps you should find some reading elsewhere that might more appeal to your tastes.

      I’m not sure what your husband does that keeps him away from you and home for over a year at a time, but I certainly hope that he isn’t throwing himself in harms way every day for the protection of strangers as my husband is! Let me tell you, that is certainly stressful. Needless to say, you will be in my prayers because we military spouses are really good at supporting other women in need, sorrow, and hard times. God Bless.

  22. You can’t do your own yard work? Your home all day and you cannot cook a meal? Are you serious? My friend directed me to your post. Women you need to search deep down and find some self resolve. The suggestions of baby sitting and inviting you out seem plausible, but the rest seems asinine. Also you do not serve so don’t get that twisted, your a civilian.

    1. First of all, we actually do get all the benefits that our husbands do. We use the BX, commissary and my entire family lives on the base. We get military insurance as well. That goes to show you how much you know about military life. Yes, military wives are civilians, but we are a military family. We are not asking for much just a little help holding down the fort while our husbands are off at war. During my husband’s 7 month deployment, my son was in the hospital, my car broken down 3 times, and my son had to be tested for autism. Those were all things I had to go through by myself. And yes, I did it, but the point is it was nice to have a little help too. Some support from friends who let me know I was not alone in all this and who helped us out while my husband was away so he did not have to worry about us. Of course cooked meals and kept up with everything, but you know what the few times someone offered to make me a meal I accepted because it was a HUGE help. I don’t see anything wrong with that. No one is asking for people to cook for us a year. Just a little help and support.

    2. Yep still a civilian, except the difference is that everything the government decides still effects military spouses directly. Married. So guess what all his orders are our orders. Actual Civilians don’t really get effected by things like “war on Syria”. They just watch decisions happen on TV, while our families are flipped upside down bc our soldier might get sent off at a moments notice. But yes all in all we are civilians, just living by military rules. ANd again getting help occasional is nice why don’t you people get that?! It is not suggesting people do all those things for them all the time… geez.

  23. First of all, we actually do get all the benefits that our husbands do. We use the BX, commissary and my entire family lives on the base. We get military insurance as well. That goes to show you how much you know about military life. Yes, military wives are civilians, but we are a military family. We are not asking for much just a little help holding down the fort while our husbands are off at war. During my husband’s 7 month deployment, my son was in the hospital, my car broken down 3 times, and my son had to be tested for autism. Those were all things I had to go through by myself. And yes, I did it, but the point is it was nice to have a little help too. Some support from friends who let me know I was not alone in all this and who helped us out while my husband was away so he did not have to worry about us.

    1. Yes, you use the BX and live on base because your husband is in the military, you are still a civilian… That is why your ID says DEPENDENT!

  24. I’m sorry but I don’t know of any civilians that go months or a year without their husband… So not sure what you are talking about. We actually do get all the benefits that our husbands do. We use the BX, commissary and my entire family lives on the base. We get military insurance as well. That goes to show you how much you know about military life. Yes, military wives are civilians, but we are a military family. We are not asking for much just a little help holding down the fort while our husbands are off at war. During my husband’s 7 month deployment, my son was in the hospital, my car broken down 3 times, and my son had to be tested for autism. Those were all things I had to go through by myself. And yes, I did it, but the point is it was nice to have a little help too. Some support from friends who let me know I was not alone in all this and who helped us out while my husband was away so he did not have to worry about us.

    1. Trucking families. OTR Trucking families routinely do without their husband for months at a time and hardly ever have a week with their husbands in a row. We also deal with the fear of them being killed everyday. Trucking is one of the top ten deadliest professions and it has put my husband into the hospital 3 times in 2 years.One trucker is injured or killed every 16 minutes. If you are looking for a sympathetic ear with civilians we have it. Both my husband and I were military dependents. My family was Navy and his was Air Force it was the best preparation for our life style we could have asked for.Some things are better, I can usually talk to him everyday (when he is in places it’s possible) and his company does not control my life nearly as much as the military controls yours. At the same time we have less support, fewer benefits, and the public thinks less of us. I visit sites like this because they give me tips for dealing with the long absences and to inspire me with the strength you ladies have.

      1. Heather, thank you so much for your thoughts on this. And I’m sorry about your husband working such a dangerous job. God bless you both. Im glad you are able to find some encouragement from posts like these. <3

  25. Thank you for your post – my father served in the military for over 30 years and my mother endured the trials of being a military wife through every deployment, move, and TDY. They truly are my heroes considering everything they managed to do for us military kids and I respect, admire, and love them dearly for their sacrifices.

    I will say, though, that the following points are a bit contradictory:

    “I know how you feel. My husband has to go away on business trips sometimes too.” (Honestly, there is a huge difference between a deployment and someone going away on a business trip.)
    ‎“How long is he going to be gone? Oh…that’s not bad.” (I’m sorry, but gone is gone. None of it is fun).

    I think it’s a bit unfair to say that gone is gone and yet, for those who have their spouses/partners/significant other travel for work, they aren’t privileged enough to really miss our person because your spouses are deployed and ours aren’t. I understand fully that a deployment is completely and utterly different compared to travel for work. My father was deployed several times and as a child and teenager it is incredibly frightening to not really understand where your dad is or if he’ll come back safely. That being said, when my boyfriend travels for work, I miss him and for me, gone is gone.

    I genuinely appreciate you sharing your testament and advice, and more importantly, your sacrifices as a military wife and family. I raise these points only to show how sometimes these boundaries between civilian and military life can be blurred. I would say that missing someone is missing someone, period, but the circumstances vary drastically.

    Please thank your husband for his service, and thank you for yours.

  26. I read your post back when you first wrote it, but I didn’t write a comment because I didn’t have anything profound to add to it. I don’t have anything particularly profound to add to it at this time either because I think your post is pretty well written and covers a lot of things that many people unfamiliar with the military life would have questions about, but I noticed you were getting some flack about your choice of verbiage so I thought I’d show my support.

    Honestly I don’t think that the author intended any offense when she referred to others as civilians and not herself. I think we all understand that we are not service members and are therefore civilians, but we do have a little more unique family dynamic than a typical civilian family. Yes, there are plenty of civilian jobs that require for a person to travel and spend time away from family like over the road truck drivers and a few others. While there are a few civilian jobs that require extended time away from family, some by choice and some not, there are a very minute few that put that person in imminent danger.

    The author is not saying that she wants others to do her chores for her, she is only saying in response to the question of “How can I help you?” With a few suggestions of things that would be helpful. You know what on a bad day or a bad month where a family is minus one parent and under a lot of stress I bet anyone would like their yard work done for them. These things aren’t completely unique to military spouses. If a FRIEND wanted to help then they could maybe support her by fulfilling one of the harder and more time consuming tasks on her list. Obviously a non-friend could care less about what would help her in a time of struggle.

    One last thing, you can argue everyday all day long that your life is the same or worse than a military spouses life (who is also a civilian), but until you can tell me that your spouse is leaving you for a year on end where he will face armed enemies who would prefer him in pieces, and that you and he fear for his life every hour of everyday until he returns home for a few months only to do it all over again, then you can put yourself at or above this military wife.

  27. This was an excellent post. What saddened me greatly was all the negative replies. Yes, military wives are technically civilians. The military however kind of sees a 2-for-1 deal. They get one spouse but get two in return. There are many expectations on the wives (usually it’s women, so I’ll just stick with the “wife” word). Please don’t forget that. The wives just can’t stay home and have no interaction with the military. They have obligations, particularly as their husbands move up in rank. So yes, technically the wives are civilians but they’re not treated that way. I applaud every military wife….even those whose spouses don’t deploy or serve combat duty. This is unlike any civilian job. So many wives have moved at a moment’s notice and have made the moves themselves with no spouse helping with any decisions. It’s not like a civilan job where a new location may be offered but there is a choice of whether to accept it or not. In the military you have no choice.

  28. Thank you so much for writing this excellent post on how to help military spouses. Not all of us may feel like we need help, but for those that do- this is a great resource and inside look into what many of us go through.

    Many Blessings!

  29. Michelle is totally right! Good for you Sarah. Then if thats your view and your so independent why don’t you take your so independent self right off a blog that is for women to support one another. You need to get over YOURSELF, and learn to maybe try and see things a little more tenderheartedly. If your proud of being a tough woman who takes no BS and can deal with everything then fine, but walking alone in those aspects is not for everyone. AND asking for help or even accepting help is far more bold than “never needing”. Accepting help IS actually “getting the Fuck over yourself (YOUR Sarah’s PRIDE)”. Having someone offer a helping hand is kind, its not meant to offend. SO sad that people decide to think that because one gets offered help or asks for help its weak. People are made to live making connections and helping one another is just a kind gesture.

    The point of this is not about being a CIVILIAN or NOT! So people stop focusing on that and getting so offended by it, thats childish.

  30. JASON: Yep still a civilian, except the difference is that everything the government decides still effects military spouses directly. Married. So guess what all his orders are our orders. Actual Civilians don’t really get effected by things like “war on Syria”. They just watch decisions happen on TV, while our families are flipped upside down because our soldier might get sent off at a moments notice. But yes all in all we are civilians, just living by military rules. I can only ASSUME that you are not military, but I’m pretty sure. You ask any married soldier and they will tell you their wives/husbands are just as strong and go through just as difficult situations as they themselves do. So Jason, I hope you feel better now that you have been a douche and knowing you are right that spouses are civilians… But I hope you can see that YOU CIVILIAN AND US CIVILIANS are not exactly the same. Our sacrifices and your sacrifices are different, we sacrifice our relationships, husbands/wives, families, health, everything! Where you civilian gets his freedom to walk on HIS HIGH HORSE and say whatever he wants about people who are sometimes the backbone for a soldiers drive/determination/motivation to fight and get missions accomplished for America, but just to make sure they get back home to their families. So your point is made spouses are civilians. Gosh Im glad we got that figured out.

  31. This is appalling. I actually served five years ACTIVE DUTY in the Navy, and am now married to a soldier. Being on both sides, I am living proof, that being deployed is much more difficult than staying behind. I never once while my husband was deployed expected my friends who are not married to soldiers to cook me a meal. This is going to school, working and studying and I still had time to do everyday chores. It baffles me that y’all call your friends, “civilian” friends. I have met wives married to soldiers who tried to tell me that I didn’t understand what an Army deployment would be like because I was Navy when my husband deployed. Really? So my two deployments don’t amount to your imaginary military wife deployments? SIT DOWN! You are civilians. I am now a civilian. Also, don’t be claiming to be single moms just because your husbands are deployed. Is he sending you money? Are you covered under his benefits? If your answer is yes, stop. Seriously, just stop.

  32. You know, its not that we consider ourselves non-civilian… the problem is we become some strange-combo-mixed breed that doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. Our friends who are not familiar with military life, such as yourself, don’t understand us, and we are not ourselves enlisted members of the military. Keep in mind though, when our spouses get orders that we are being stationed elsewhere, guess what? We have to go! We sacrifice differently than the average civilian, we give up jobs, and leave family because orders are orders, enlisted or not. All we ask is that you cut us a little slack, and maybe pass the chocolate!

  33. I’m not sure why this vitriol has popped up today on a post that was published last year, but I’m horrified at how negative people are being. Kathryn, I support you. You did nothing wrong in your post.

  34. TERRIFIC BLOG POST! This is very true.

    One other thought to add to what others can do is this – Volunteer to be a “Deployment Elf.”. Prior to a spouse leaving, speak with them and ask them how you can help them love their family from afar while they are gone. I have done this for other military families and it has blessed me more than I ever expected, especially since I was a military wife. LOL!

    Ask the departing spouse if there are special days like birthdays or anniversaries that they would need a little help with from someone back here at home. How can you help? I have gone to our local jewelers to pick up the gift he selected and paid for prior to leaving. Then, I played “elf” at Christmas by sneaking a wonderful bracelet into my friend’s Christmas stocking. I have surprised other wives with bouquets from the florist.

    There are countless little “Deployment Elf” tasks that you can do when someone’s spouse is gone. You can also do like our church’s prayer pals have done over the years with little surprises just because.

    Honestly, you will be twice blessed if you help. : ) Ruth

  35. My elderly parents live near a Navy base, and have Navy officers’ wives as neighbors and tenants in a rental property they own. As a mere civilian, I know that the sacrifices I and my family have made for our country are different from those of military families, but I sure wish the officers’ wives we have shared a property line with, or rented property to, behaved like actual neighbors and not like royalty. It may come as a surprise to the women we have been unfortunate enough to live near, but there are many civilians who every day risk the security of themselves and their families to serve their communities. My now-retired father was a district attorney for many years, responsible for taking criminals off the streets, for far less compensation than any of the young officers he rented homes to. He spent a career keeping the homeland safe for everyone, including those wives, and at great personal risk. Any officers’ wives need to carry a weapon because the people their husbands defended the country against have made credible threats to them and their children? Any of them fear that they or their stateside families will be murdered at their own front door by the people they put in jail? I am not writing to minimize the sacrifices that military families make in the name of keeping our country safe. I only ask that the wives (and they have all been wives) of officers recognize the sacrifice others have made and continue to make every day in their own communities.

    Also, to the current Navy officer’s wife next door, please stop stealing my old and cancer-ridden father’s garbage bin. I know it’s you, and you cheapen the service of all military members by behaving in such a boorish fashion.

  36. Now shall we write one for single moms? Those are the ones who never have that husband coming home at all. Ever. No relief. No secondary income.

    I am a single mom living near a big military community and I often hear military wives telling me they “know what it’s like,” (similar to the “my husband goes away on business” comments)…. again, not the same thing.

  37. As an Army Brat, (previous Army Wife), current Army Mom and Marine Mom, I can totally relate. Thank you so much for posting this. I am also a current grad student at Gonzaga University, my population, naturally is military families and their service members. Growing up in the Army taught me so much about leadership, resiliency, patriotism, and much more.

    I am currently writing a research paper on Deployment and the effects of resiliency on Military Families. If anyone would like to add their two-cents, I welcome your opinion, you can remain anonymous or be cited, whatever you wish.

    Feel free to contact me at kkegerreis@zagmail.gonzaga.edu.
    Nope, I’m not selling anything just wanting to provide a voice.

  38. Hi, I’m stumbling across this post years after you’ve posted it, but I’m hoping you’ll still see this comment and help me out a bit!
    I’m a (broke) college student with a HUGE respect for servicemen and women, as well as a huge appreciation for all that the families of military members have to do and go through to support their loved one. I know that I’m just one person and I can’t do everything. And I DON’T know what it’s like to have to live in the same reality that you do. But the little that I can do I would love to be able to do for someone, and at this point in my life I can’t make a huge monetary contribution. I can’t commit to much but right now I work as a babysitter and nanny and I’m trying to find a way to reach out to military families near me, and offer to babysit or make a meal or have a day where I can just take the kids out and relieve stress. I can totally swing babysitting, even if it’s just once or twice a week, to help alleviate some pressure or stress off of someone-it’s the very least I can do. My biggest issue is, I don’t know any families near me. I’ve sent out countless emails and don’t want to lose hope.
    I’m in Southern California in LA if that makes any difference.
    Here’s to hoping you can point me in the right direction! Thank you, and thank you for all that you do.

    1. Have you tried reaching out on local Facebook groups? Google military bases in California and find the nearest ones to you. Search for military spouse Facebook groups for that base and see if there is anyone you can help that way.

      I think it is very sweet of you to do this. Good luck!

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