“As my husband prepares for a deployment in the future, I have to step up and take over every aspect of our lives alone for almost a year. It is intimidating.”

Mary Drummond, 24, has served for four years in the United States Navy. She is now married to a serviceman, who is preparing for deployment. When he is away, she will have to take care of every aspect of their lives, including their daughter. To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, she writes for The IPF about her personal story of being a military spouse and why she thinks this day is so important.

In her own words

Military spouses received their Military Spouse Appreciation Day as a part of National Military Appreciation Month in 1999, during the Ronald Reagan presidency. It holds the ideas of gathering around our military families to love, honour, remember, and recognise those who have served.

This Friday (6 May 2016), we recognise the men and women who stand by their spouse’s side through deployments, frequent moves, and new cultural experiences. But what does that really mean?

As a woman who is married to an active duty member and is currently serving, I can see it from both sides.

As a military member, I need my husband to be able to accept when I’m not going to be able to come home on time or when I have duty and don’t come home at all.

And the same goes for him. We have to be a team, ready to take over for the other regarding household duties, parental responsibilities, financial obligations, and other miscellaneous activities.

Being service members, it is very difficult to find room to be flexible.

This reality isn’t always understood by the rest of America and that’s okay. Military spouses must be readily open to new experiences such as picking up and moving to another country, prepared to face the burden of single parenting when duty calls, and bravely face the stresses and challenges that come with being married to a service member.

Coming home from deployments can really change a person and bring on profound burdens.

I have heard countless service members tell me they wouldn’t be able to handle this type of career if it wasn’t for their spouse.

For me, I’ve reenlisted for my final tour. For my husband, he has only dipped his toes into a long career. As he prepares for a deployment in the future, I have to step up and take over every aspect of our lives alone for almost a year. It is intimidating.

But I have a village of other military spouses, friends, and family who will be there to support me. Our service members are human beings that deserve to live the life they choose, and having a strong spouse behind them makes this kind of lifestyle all the more capable.

So when you thank a service member, you’re also thanking their family because they serve, too.

NB: The IPF’s opinion articles are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily endorsed by the IPF.