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Is My Husband a Veteran?

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is my husband a veteranI’ve never lied about who I am, or who I am married to.  On my blog and in my various author bios across the web, I clearly state that I’m married to a Reservist. The trouble is that, for whatever reason, many don’t count my husband as being in the military, nor me as counting as a military spouse.

I have written about some of the road blocks we encounter as a military family and often discuss the misconceptions about our life.  I have, however, never really written about the big, giant, glaringly obvious thing that stares me in the face each day.  We are excluded.  We aren’t just overlooked or forgotten, we are purposefully and directly excluded by groups who claim to want to help Service Members.

This is something I have discussed at length in private with friends of other Reservists or National Guardsmen, and I have even talked about it with my friends who are married to Active Duty Service Members.  The trouble is that somewhere down the line, it was deemed acceptable to exclude us, and no one has managed to change that.

We live in a time where everyone is fighting to be heard, advocating for one group or another, but even those people and groups tend to disregard Reserve families.  I have been blatantly denied inclusion because my husband is a Reservist.  It hurts every time, no matter how often it has happened.

I refuse to believe or accept that a man who has pledged eleven years of his life to the Marine Corps, who has deployed to combat zones multiple times and who lives his life as a Marine first, American second, and husband third, can be regarded as anything but a patriotic member of our Armed Forces.  Yet there are those who will tell you that he doesn’t count as a Veteran.  There are those who will call him a “Weekend Warrior,” who will say that I am not a TRUE military spouse, and that we do not count as a military family.

I recently read an article on the website of a group claiming to be in support of “Veteran” owned businesses and a resource for those Veterans.  But the article began, “Welcome Active Duty Veterans and Military Spouses.”  Apparently, according to their definition, you only count as a Veteran if you served in the Active Duty side of the military.

So I ask you this, the next time you are face to face with a Reservist and their family, could you say to them that you feel they don’t count?  Can you tell a group of Service Members who log the same amount of drill hours and training hours in “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” with the hard work and dedication it takes to do so doesn’t qualify them as service members in your book?

Can you tell the family they leave behind on deployment, who misses their spouse when their anniversary rolls around, the birth of their child is coming, or any other major special event is on the way, that they don’t count as a military family because their spouse isn’t a member of the “real” military?  Can you look me in the face and tell me that when my husband is called away in the middle of the night to aide a subordinate in his unit for some reason or another, or he has to abandon me in an ER to tend to military duty, that I am not a military spouse, even though I live a life where the military always comes first?

What is your definition of a Veteran?  What is your definition of a military spouse? Or a Service Member, or military family?

We do not all PCS every few years.  We do not all have the same benefits, we don’t all qualify for Tricare, or even get included in events for the military and their families. But being excluded doesn’t make me any less a military spouse, nor my husband any less a Marine.  It doesn’t negate his duty to his country for which he serves with pride.

I am disappointed in the idea that a nation which prides itself in the inclusion of everyone so readily excludes a key group of those who are sworn to protect this great country.  I am hurt when a friend emails me to say that she tried to put together care packages for Military Spouse Appreciation Day, but was told by those donating items that Reserve and NG spouses didn’t count and weren’t to be included. I am saddened that I have encountered so many who are so ready to thank a Service Member, as long as they are not a Reservist or National Guardsmen.

When it comes down to it, we are not so different.  When my husband puts on the same uniform that his Active Duty counterparts wear, no one stops to clarify that he isn’t a “weekend warrior” before shaking his hand and thanking him for his service.

The dictionary defines “veteran” as being someone who has served in the armed forces.  The VFW only requires that you show proof of orders of your service in a foreign war before allowing membership.  So what is your definition?  Because, so far, many people feel very comfortable telling me that my husband doesn‘t count.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I am not denying that your one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year are not tough. Also, deployments on every family are tough. But there are reasons why they are called “Weekend Warriors,” which by the way I don’t understand why that is bad terminology. Definitely cleaner than other names I have heard for Reserves. Did you know that the UCMJ only applies to your husband when he is in drilling status? See your husband is not held to the same military rules like the active side is. If your husband wants to be looked at as solely a Marine then maybe he should quit his other job and consider Active Reservist.
    You are only thinking about the benefits of being an active duty spouse, I warn you that it comes at a steeper price than one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year.

    • Jamie, speaking as a member of the Marine Corps reserve I would like to point out one flaw in your post. From the point that a marine is sworn in they are under the umbrella of the UCMJ for the entirety of their enlistment. The UCMJ is a code that governs all of the armed forces and does so 24/7 for 4,6 or any number of years as long as they are on a current contract. Not to say that you don’t have a few valid points but your information is flawed.

  2. “I am hurt when a friend emails me to say that she tried to put together care packages for Military Spouse Appreciation Day, but was told by those donating items that Reserve and NG spouses didn’t count and weren’t to be included.” <—— this bothers me to no end!

  3. Jaimie,

    Go ahead and try to call my Marine a “weekend warrior”. Guarantee you’re not standing afterwards. My husband deploys more often… volunteers more often to meet the needs of the Corps than ANY active duty Marine could. Reservists aren’t bound by the same “off time” rules that Active Duty are. That’s why he can do 2 nine -month deployments in 20 months… and you can’t. And… he does that without any r&r time. He has been activated all but 5 months of his entire contract. During that 5 month time he worked as a contractor for the DoD with a company comprised entirely of reservists and national guardsmen. Steeper price my ass. And if you ever dare call a Marine… not a “real” Marine simply because he’s in the reserves… you obviously aren’t in the club of those who earned their EGA after the crucible… because no Marine would disrespect their brother the way you just did.

  4. Amanda, I don’t get why the term “Weekend Warrior” is so Bad? I graduated high school a proud “Western Warrior.” As for threatening me bodily harm… show some class, your the one threatening a “Brothers” wife. Your husband deploys more often? Are you challenging me to a pissing contest? Where in my post did I ever say Reserves are not “Real Marines”? You just placed words in mouth. I stand by what I posted. The Marine Corps is not a supplemental income for my family, it is the main source of income for my family. The benefits that Active Duty Marines get are well deserved. Find me a job out there where you can work occasionally and get full benefits. When your husband is activated he does get many of the benefits that Active members get.

    You are only looking at what your husband is doing, what you fail to realize is that a Reserve unit needs Active duty Marines to run it. So when you husband leaves for a weekend, there have been many active duty Marines planning their training all week long before hand. When He leaves for 2 weeks, there has been active duty Marines that left their families the week prior and will have to stay an additional week after the Reservist leave to clean up. I never said that Reservist are not honorably serving.

  5. I too was a weekend warrior at one time. I spent Four years as a Army Reservist before I decided to join Active Duty Marine Corps. Back in my day they didn’t activate the reservist like they do today. So we never even got to see active duty. The underlining factor that makes you a veteran is when you spend 180 or more on active duty straight time. Then you qualify in the eyes of uncle Sam as a Veteran. I loved every minute of being in the Marines active duty. I served during the Gulf War in 91. I often heard as a reservist that we didn’t count…. So I made a change and Joined the Marine Corps which by the way wouldn’t initially take me with just a GED. But since I had my foot in the door as a reservist in Army, the Marines allowed me to join. Though, I had to go through Boot camp again with them, I enjoyed every minute of it.

  6. It’s simple, you can’t be a part time Marine. Either you are or you aren’t, it’s unfair for the real Marines that do this everyday. They have families too but yet they chose to serve full time, so why should we feel sympathy for them? If they want the respect then they should earn it. If he is tired of being looked down upon maybe he should go active duty and then go reserves. Military wife’s have the easiest job by the way. It makes me furious when you people use that term. You don’t go out on patrols, you don’t endure the pain of seeing your buddies pass away. All you simply do is wait with a piece of paper at the end of deployments that reads “welcome home” as if that solves problems. You have no special privilege as any other wife. You’re just another regular civilian wife!!

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