“You’re Just a Girlfriend”

I am a proud military girlfriend. I have a strong relationship with my boyfriend, and can see myself becoming a fiancée and then a wife someday. As of now, I carry no military I.D. card. I am not on Tricare. I do not live on base, and I cannot even get on without my boyfriend’s help. Being a military girlfriend seems like a kind of support limbo. I can get plenty of support online from the girls I’ve met in Facebook groups, but the military provides me with no support. Any time military significant others are portrayed in the media, they are always wives. People often think of the spouses that are left behind, but assume since we haven’t committed (not true) and that we don’t live together (not always true) that the girlfriends will be okay. Again, not true. I am in no way saying that the wives do not deserve all of the support and attention that they get. They definitely deserve everything they receive, since when their husbands are gone they have to handle everything on their own. I just wish that someone would recognize the sacrifice girlfriends make, too.

I understand that every relationship is different, and that being a girlfriend means we haven’t taken the next step of complete commitment. I know that many relationships don’t work out, that a few are unfaithful, that being a girlfriend is not the same as being a wife. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t shed tears over goodbyes, feel that amazing feeling of reunions, write letters, support our loved ones, and have to deal with the military on a daily basis. All wives were once girlfriends, but it seems that once that ring is on their finger, some (again, not true for all) of them forget our importance.

I cannot wait to one day get my military I.D., to have base privileges, to be recognized by the military as someone of importance in my service member’s life. When Ben fills out forms, he has to write “single,” because being in a long-term relationship doesn’t matter to the government. It is because of this that girlfriends are not recognized on sites such as “Base Guide,” which has forums for wives only. It is because of this that we don’t get recognized or acknowledged as often by the media and general public. There is even a Military Spouse Appreciation Day. If it wasn’t for social networking, most military girlfriends would be completely lost and overwhelmed. I can’t wait to move past being “just a girlfriend” and to get the support of the military, and I don’t want to take away from the support given to the wives, but I still wish there was some way girlfriends could be equally recognized for our hardships.

– Margaret

Stereotype: We Cheat

First of all, I want to say that this is one of the worst stereotypes that outsiders put on military significant others. It feels like it’s most often put on girlfriends instead of wives, which doesn’t help the image of a military girlfriend. Maybe it does happen more often with girlfriends, which is unfortunate, but it is so wrong to say that we all cheat. Granted, I have heard a few stories of terrible girlfriends or wives who cheat, but those were two out of the hundreds of stories I have heard.

Being separated for long periods of time can obviously put a strain on any relationship. But being separated with minimal contact and unknown countdowns for when you will see them next is even harder. I have not dealt with deployment yet, but I can only imagine the extra stress that is put on a military S/O when you have to worry for their safety and well-being while they’re away. That does not give anyone the right to cheat, and we all know that. We all miss the physical contact while they’re gone, but that is not an excuse. It is so unfortunate when you hear of the few military S/Os who can’t handle the separation and are unfaithful. It has not only caused pain for many, but it also created a false stereotype that is imposed on the rest of us.

Listen to the stories of the majority of military significant others, and you will find a very different story from the stereotype.

– Margaret

Army Wives and DADT

I love the fact that the Lifetime television show Army Wives addressed the issue of gays in the military. It is sometimes a controversial show for military significant others, since it often portrays the lives of the Army wives as incredibly drama-filled and that some of them have been involved with cheating. I got sucked into it, though, and don’t mind the drama. I can recognize how overly dramatic the show is, and as an Air Force girlfriend, I know that my connection with the military is not nearly as stressful and full of tension. The show has been a great way to address issues that military spouses face, however, such as sudden deployments, post-traumatic stress disorder, debt, birth of children while husbands are overseas, and even injury and death.

In the most recent episode, which aired on April 29th, Army Wives addressed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the acceptance of openly gay service members. Captain Nicole Galassini, a woman, performed heroically and was injured overseas while on deployment, and helped the U.S. avoid an international conflict. Back home, she was recommended for a Bronze Star. However, she was seen kissing her significant other, also a woman, at the homecoming, and an officer (I think… I forget the rank!) noticed and told General Clarke, who is in charge of sending out awards recommendations. Prior to DADT being repealed, Gen. Clarke had said that he was not in favor of allowing gays to openly serve. When he was confronted with this officer saying Capt. Galassini should not receive this award because of her sexual orientation, Gen. Clarke reprimanded him for this thought. He stated clearly that since DADT has been repealed and the Army’s policy is to allow gays to serve openly, that that is what he believes and upholds.

I am so glad that Army Wives openly addressed the repeal of DADT and has taken such a positive stance on allowing gays in the military. I am well aware that many service members and their significant others are conservative, both religiously and politically, so using this TV show to show the struggles that openly gay service members often face was wonderful. The actress who played Nicole Galassini, Kellie Martin, was quoted as saying “Nicole’s situation is so common, and it’s actually something that people are talking about right now… There’s nothing in your face about it. Army Wives is not getting up on a soap box.” While Army Wives is not the perfect portrayal of military life, it has addressed many controversial issues well.

Watch the episode, “After Action Report” on Hulu

– Margaret

Intro

I often start blogs with good intentions, thinking that I’m going to keep them constantly updated and post all the time, but that rarely happens. So you may be thinking, why start another blog? My answer: because this is something I am passionate about and have endless opinions on. I am an Air Force girlfriend. My boyfriend, Ben, is a 2nd Lieutenant. I am a student at a liberal arts college in New England. One might think that those two things, military and liberal arts, do not mix, but I want to prove otherwise.

The stereotypical military significant other (a phrase you’ll be hearing a lot of) is… Well, I started that sentence thinking I would describe a Christian, Republican, caucasian woman with a loud mouth and her priorities set straight. But I don’t want to further the stereotypes. Many of the women I have met may fit that stereotype, but they are never the same. The purpose of this blog will be to highlight the wonderful differences of the significant others of our armed forces. Each of us is unique and we all have different values, but the one thing that brings us together is the uniform that our loved ones wear and the service that they promise to our country. I would not have considered myself patriotic prior to dating Ben, but now any time I hear the national anthem or see those stars and stripes, something stirs inside me, and I feel that connection. That connection to the stranger in the airport in uniform who I now feel compelled to talk to; that connection to the military S/Os around the country who share many of the same experiences as I do, and can truly understand. No matter what our politics are or what religion we choose to practice, we all come together for support and care. That is what I love about calling myself a military girlfriend. And you will hear plenty more about that soon. 🙂

– Margaret

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