This is an opinion piece that does not necessarily reflect the views of MilSpouseFest.
A new year brings with it hopes and dreams for the future, whether personal, professional, or global. It brings resolutions that (most likely) won’t be met and ideas that feel fresh and possible. In order to move ahead, sometimes things need to be left behind. And there are definitely some things that the military spouse community is better off without going into a brand new year.
Here are five things that are better left in 2017:
1. Defending their careers
Let’s get this straight: Spouses can have a career just because they want to. They don’t have to have any other reason for it other than, “Hey, I like doing this thing and I want to make a career of it.” They don’t have to justify it to their spouse’s command. They don’t have to justify it to the base’s spouse club. And they certainly don’t have to justify it to the bickering randos online. That’s because (get ready for it) military spouses are just regular human beings with the same wants and needs as any other human. And sure, if they have other reasons for wanting a career, that’s cool. But they don’t need to have a master’s thesis on why they want to work as a professional.
2. The officer-enlisted gap
Can we get over this already? Yes, there are a bunch of people who keep beating this dead horse, even though it matters less and less and less. It’s 2018, y’all. And the ops tempo doesn’t look like it’s going to decrease this year, which means that military spouses are going to need each other to make it through. If you’re still one of the folks pretending that rank matters for military spouses, find a way to get over it in 2018.
3. The civilian-military divide
Sometimes, all it takes is a little understanding. Sure, your civilian neighbors might not understand the rank system and why you’re on pins and needles waiting for orders. But they understand hierarchy in jobs and they understand the uncertainty of moving for a career. Give civilians a chance instead of just assuming they won’t get it or they couldn’t understand. You might be boxing yourself out of a great friendship.
4. Shaming. . . of any kind
The military community has had its share of untoward, unpalatable, and outright unlawful behavior online in 2017. It’s easy to throw stones–especially on the internet, when you don’t see where the stones land or who they hit. The targets of every mean comment and every unkind share are real people, with real flesh on their bones and real blood running through their veins. This year, let’s live up to our better angels and refuse to participate in bullying, whether it’s online or in person. After all, your commentary says a lot more about you than it does about your target.
5. Defending the indefensible
The military community is made up of flawed human beings– just like any other sector of our society. That means there are folks in the military community who are criminals and dirt bags. That also means there are folks in the military community who are predators and who are rapists and who are domestic abusers and who are neo-Nazis and racists. Acknowledging those truths is uncomfortable and can be painful, but it’s something that needs to be done. Instead of excusing indefensible behavior, being unwilling to talk, sticking our collective heads in the sand, or brushing it off as a non-issue, let’s let some sunlight sterilize our community in 2018.
By J.G. Noll