The Army is different than it was 30 years ago but that’s no surprise to most people. Thirty years ago it wasn't very acceptable for enlisted and officer’s spouses to socialize in any sort of non-official capacity. Now, the Army could care less who your spouse is friends with. Heck, most posts have done away with OWCs (Officer’s Wives Clubs) and now just have Spouses Clubs for all spouses regardless of rank. Honestly, I think this is fabulous and it has benefited me since one of my first friends here at JBLM is an enlisted spouse and she is now one of my best friends. Sometimes it can get tricky because even though it doesn't matter who your spouse is friends with the soldier’s themselves still have to abide by fraternization guidelines making it hard for you to get together as couples or as families. As long as you understand the “rules” the soldiers have to follow in order to not get in trouble (and it is always the more senior ranking person who will get the brunt of it) you can go about your merry way. So, now that we've gotten a bit of background information I can get to the point of this post.
I am sick and tired of hearing enlisted spouses bad talk officer’s spouses and officer’s spouses bad talking enlisted spouses simply because of what rank their husband holds. I don't care who your husband is! To be honest, the fact of the matter is, if you are an E5’s spouse who doesn't really care for your husband’s platoon leader’s spouse (O1 or O2) it probably has little to do with the fact that her husband out ranks yours. You are probably just different types of people and had you met outside the confines of the Army you STILL wouldn't have liked each other. I've met spouses from about every single rank that I liked and enjoyed being around but I've also met spouses from about every single rank that I didn't like. I met wives of The LT’s battle buddies when he was enlisted that I loved and some that annoyed the life out of me and I've had the same experience with the wives of his co-workers now. Like I've said before, I've been an enlisted girlfriend, a cadet’s fiancée, and an officer’s wife but that doesn't change who I am as a person. I’m just me…and if you don’t like me that’s fine, I’m not offended, just please don’t make it about rank. The signs saying “leave your rank at the door” have been around for ages but what it doesn't include is the fact that as a spouse you.hold.no.rank. On your ID card it has your husband’s rank and then it says “SP” for spouse because there is no hierarchy of spouses. Yes, OK, a general’s wife may be more recognizable because you see her at official functions but you don’t see wives saluting other wives.
I’m also a little tired of wives responding first with their husband’s rank when someone asks what their husband does. Now sometimes the name of their position includes a hint about their rank like “Training room NCO” or “Fire Support Officer.” A lot of times when I personally meet a spouse for the first time and we get to talking about where we've lived, how long we've been here, how many deployments, etc. I ask what her husband does. Does he work on helicopters? Is he in supply? Transportation? Does he work in the hospital? Does he work on a 777? Or does he work in the Fire Direction Center? I absolutely do not care or need to know what his rank is the first time I meet you. Why do I ask then? I ask because I’m always curious what the 8,123 other jobs in the military are like. Maybe I’m not the norm and that’s the problem, but if we are meant to be friends your husband’s rank will come out at some point. When it comes right down to it the reason I don’t care about his rank, especially the first time we meet, is because I’m not introducing myself to him. I want to get to know you as a person, not necessarily you as a part of your husband’s military career because lord knows as military wives we so easily become an accessory to their careers. You are a person and I want to get to know YOU as an individual. In the process of getting to know you I will eventually learn about your husband because our loved ones are a part of who we are….just not all of who we are. So, as military spouses lets not forget that we are just as important as our spouses and even though their job often controls more of our life that we wish it doesn't make us as individuals any less relevant.