Commentary by Lt. Col. Theresa Malasavage
50th Operations Support Squadron commander
Command is an amazing and rewarding experience due to the people for whom I have had the opportunity to make a difference. One thing I definitely learned in the last 21 months is this is clearly a team sport — a team made up of a variety of players: fellow commanders, shirts, bosses, support organizations and, of course, our families. With that in mind, I wanted to take this last opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the often neglected and underappreciated members of our teams — our spouses.
All spouses face significant challenges as they go through an Air Force career whether it relates to moves, restarting careers, school changes for kids, financial strains, deployments, etc. If I were to ask you to close your eyes and picture a military spouse, who would you see: male or female; stay-at-home mom or dad; employed full or part time outside of the home; or civilian or military? I would venture to say that most of you pictured the same, perhaps stereotypical, military spouse.
I am reminded of an article Mrs. Gina Monteith wrote last year in the May 11 edition of the Schriever Sentinel where she pointed out the realities of being a spouse in today’s military — the not so dependent, “dependent” spouse. In light of that commentary, I’d like to introduce you to a small demographic that’s growing, but still trying to find solid ground in this Air Force — the military, military spouse: the spouse who wears the same uniform as their spouse every day.
Here’s to the military, military spouse —
• The one who sacrifices phenomenal career opportunities to keep a family (and any other priorities) intact.
• The one who faces the politely smiling child-care provider when you show up one minute before closing.
• The one who juggles children’s illnesses, dual absences and conflicting schedules when the Air Force doesn’t always allow for sick days and last minute leave.
• The one who prays that the next assignment will be a joint-spouse assignment.
• The one who deals with family separations and a single-parent household when the Air Force can’t support a joint-spouse assignment.
• The one who is at odds with which group to belong in during social gatherings — hang with the spouses or the active duty members?
• The one who is never designated or considered for “key spouse” because they’re not the norm.
• The one who has to study Air Force Instructions and push people just a little harder in order to ensure their family gets the right entitlements, given the “not so norm” situation.
• The one who has to find someone you can trust enough to take care of your children within 60 days of moving to a new area.
• The one who Tricare won’t talk to when you aren’t your child’s sponsor nor share the same sponsor with your child.
• The one who puts up with the snide remarks from folks who see the financial advantages of being a “dual military” couple without seeing the amount of compromise it takes to serve while maintaining a family.
• The one who understands exactly the challenges you are facing at work.
• The one who can review your awards packages, reports, etc. and understand the crazy Air Force writing rules.
The truth is that all military spouses face similar challenges of balancing the demands of family and Air Force careers. And we love to serve in many capacities, often without complaint. This was just my attempt to open up the aperture on how we define the military spouse. No group is more valuable than the other; each has its own unique set of sacrifices and appreciates help and support just like the next guy or girl. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for all of our spouses and I thank them for enriching my life and my command as part of the team.
And so my hat’s off to all of our military spouses with a special nod to our military, military spouses.
Sincerely, Theresa L. Malasavage: wife, mother, commander and military, military spouse.