Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Celebrating Veteran's Day and a Shout Out to the Spouses

When I was a kid all I cared about when Veteran's Day rolled around was--NO SCHOOL!! During that time the Vietnam War was going on, but because we didn't watch TV (or the news) and didn't know anyone in the service, what I heard about the war I heard after the fact--when it ended and our town was one of the many on the gulf coast saturated with refugees looking for a new life.


When I met my husband he was a third class petty officer in his eighth year in the Coast Guard stationed in Sabine Pass, Texas. Of course my first thought when he told me he was in the Coast Guard was....they're part of the military?? And, don't deny it, that's your first thought too.

Many people don't know this, but the Coast Guard has been around for over two hundred years and was founded by Alexander Hamilton, who was a founding father and the first secretary of treasury....okay, he's that scary looking guy on the $10 bill. Although founded in 1790 they didn't become part of the Armed Forces until 1915.

Anyway, while thoughts and prayers go out to the men and women giving their lives to the service, no one really thinks about what their spouses and families go through. The separation anxiety is just as hard if not more difficult, and when the children are small and don't quite understand it's up to the single parent to keep them feeling safe and leading a "normal" life. And it's even harder on both parents when the military spouse comes home and is a stranger to his/her children. This actually hit home for me when we were stationed on a small island in Alaska. We only had two children at the time, Adam-6 and Amanda-1. Matt had been gone for a month, their cutter had to go to the 'yards' which was in Ketchican--a whole other island away from our island, and when he came home our daughter was totally scared of him. In fact, one night I went to meet with some other wives and left the kids with Matt. During the night Amanda was about to get into some mischief and Matt told her "no". The kid totally freaked out and ran to her big brother, clinging to him for dear life. Adam thought it was amusing and got to play protective big brother while it took my husband the rest of the night to convince his daughter he wasn't going to harm her. They say it takes a strong person to be married to someone in the military, I think we passed that test in Alaska.

Though my husband spent almost all of his twenty year career on land, aside from the two years in Alaska (where he was gone 70% of the time) we were only separated one other time before he retired in 2000. He had to spend his final year at a station in Raymondville while the kids and I lived in Port Arthur--long story short, we'd bought a house in PA because he was supposed to finish his term there but then got send to Raymondville. Finances and no housing forced the kids and I to move back home while Matt finished out his tour.)

Anyway, when he retired (which was pretty uneventful, although we had a big party at our home in Port Arthur) I received a letter of accomendation from the President thanking me for my service to our country as well. Pretty Cool, huh? I have to admit, getting that letter really surprised me, I mean, I didn't think I did anything special. And maybe I did, maybe I didn't but I do know it's true: it takes a strong person to be married to a career military man and I'll add, anyone in law enforcement.

So, while you're out celebrating our vets, take the time to thank their families as well.

Give your Shout Outs here!

I'll start: Jennifer Ratcliff and her two children Coral and Thomas!! Thank you for sticking by your man, (Ret.) Senior Chief Bryon Ratcliff! ;-)

To learn more about the US Coast Guard visit them at their site: US Coast Guard

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