Military spouses are enablers

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Eric Bass
  • 56th Mission Support Squadron commander
It's uncertain how long we will remain at war, fighting the global war on terrorism. Many of us may not be alive to see the results, but hopefully our children and grandchildren will. 

One visible result we have noticed since Sept. 11 is that our military spouses are the true enablers to military participation and success.   This has been especially true of those spouses of deployed members, in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. 

Military members are constantly focusing on the tasks at hand while dealing with various levels of stress to get the job done right. Spouse support has a critical and direct impact on military members' stress levels and ability to focus. 

No matter what branch of service, area of expertise, or rank, focus and stress are common factors all military members deal with while at home or deployed. Since focus and stress both magnify for deployed members, it's critical that military members keep stress at manageable levels, so they are able to focus on the mission. 

How are we able to focus and manage our stress? One key factor is having peace of mind that things are well and taken care of at home. Life back at home does not stop while military members are deployed. If anything, life gets harder at home because half the team is now absent. Spouses are forced to do more with less. 

In spite of the servicemember's absence, bills and mortgages need to be paid, automobiles serviced, houses cleaned and yards landscaped and mowed. Add those stressors to all the things required to take care of children. Such things as, getting hem to and from school or daycare; helping with homework; calming children's tears ue to the missed deployed servicemember; doctor visits and keeping up with children's after-school activities. In some cases, spouses are faced with having to olely care for a newborn baby. So, do the stress levels of our spouses magnify whenwe deploy?  That answer is easy; now couple that with constantly worrying about our safety and well-being while we are deployed. 

My wife has been faced with such distress. However, I didn't  learn the extent of it until after I returned. While I was gone, we had the ability to frequently e-mail  and talk on the phone and most of those conversations focused on how things were going and how she was taking care of everything at home -- basically giving me peace of mind, since I was half-a-world away. In a sense, during my deployment, she was my rock because my ability to focus on the mission relied on how things were back home. My wife is just one of the many rocks there for military members. 

It enlightens me to see how tough, strong, committed and faithful many military spouses are while their military member is deployed, especially, those serving extended or multiple deployments. Some spouses have lost their mates and are forced to move on without them. These spouses are true heroes and heroines. 

The dictionary definition of enabler states, "to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to." Our spouses are the true Air Expeditionary Force enablers, allowing us to deploy and perform.  It's incumbent for us military members to always recognize, appreciate and never forget that.