Today is National Military Spouses Appreciation Day. Of course, I didn't know it until this evening when I saw a Facebook announcement from one of my "friends." Like military spouses themselves, their day goes largely unrecognized, even by many of us in uniform. But not this year! I want to say a hearty "thank you" to my spouse for her undying support of me during our nearly 20 years of marriage. Here are a few of her many sacrifices:
1. During four months of our short, 10-month courtship, I was at Infantry Officer Basic Course in Fort Benning, GA. We met in September 1998, and I was off to Basic Course by February 1999. I returned in June 1999, and we were married in July 1999.
2. I was deployed for wildfire-fighting duty for one month or so in 2000. We had virtually no contact during this time.
3. In 2002-2003, I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for one year. We had some phone and video chat contact, but it was very minimal. We may have talked/chatted for a few minutes once every other week or so.
4. In 2007-2008, I was deployed for one year to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We had virtually no contact during this time. I phoned home very infrequently. By this time, we also had two children.
5. In 2010, I spent 8 months serving in Washington, DC, at National Guard Bureau. I only saw my family on weekends. By this time, we had three children.
6. For one month (or so) during 2012, I was deployed to New York/New Jersey in support of Hurricane Sandy relief. We had phone/email contact, but it was minimal.
7. During 2010-2013, I was stationed at Fort Eustis, VA, and spent many multi-week periods on full-time status in support of an active-duty Joint Forces Unit. We spent much time apart during these years.
8. Every year during my 22-year career, I have been gone for at least one two-week annual training period at some point during the year.
9. Almost every month for 22 years, I have been gone for at least one weekend on "drill" duty.
10. I have attended many schools since being married, most of which pulled me away from my family for weeks on end. Some of these include Chaplain Officer Basic Course, Chaplain Captains Career Course, Brigade Functional Area Qualification Course, Air Assault Course, Hazardous Materials Transportation Officers Course, and Light Leaders Course.
My wife has endured all of this without objection. Not once has she complained about the Army, asked me not to complete a period of service, or been selfishly bitter toward me or the military. Indeed, she has been the emotional, spiritual foundation upon which I've built my career. Without her support, I would have accomplished nothing, and I would not have had such an enjoyable career to date. Thank you, Beth, for all you've done. More importantly, thank you for who you are!