News: Military Spouse Appreciation Day recognizes sacrifices
Story by Cpl. Thomas Bricker
BARSTOW, Calif. - "On Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we have an opportunity to not only honor the husbands and wives of our service members, but also thank them by actively expressing our gratitude in both word and deed," said first lady Michelle Obama, May 5, 2011 from the Presidential Proclamation.
Military spouses are recognized each year for their hard work and dedication to the armed forces, which is why Military Spouse Appreciation Day was created.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day began on May 23, 1984, after President Ronald Reagan made a proclamation to recognize the hard work done by military spouses every day. Typically held on the Friday before Mother’s Day, the eventful day is celebrated throughout the United States and on military installations worldwide.
“Being a spouse isn’t always easy,” said Nichole Marks, chairwoman of volunteers aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow and wife of Sgt. Jacey Marks. “He handles a lot of things at work and I do my part at home to take care of the kids while also working at the base thrift store,” she said.
Military spouses have been known for their strength through deployments with the help of friends and special programs offered aboard all military installations. While their significant other is overseas protecting our freedom, spouses keep things stable and running smoothly on the home front.
“My husband has been in for a total of 17 years and I find such pride in what he does for us,” said Melanie Morales, a Marine Corps family team building administrative assistant. Her husband is a sergeant first class now with the National Guard at Fort Irwin. “Not everyone is cut out for the job they do, but being a part of it is important.”
Morales has been through two major deployments with her husband, the first being to Bosnia for seven months. During this time, the family was stationed in Baumholder, Germany. The second deployment was to Afghanistan for 14 months. Having various means of communication made the distance and time apart from each other a little easier.
“Technology has definitely changed since his first deployment,” said Morales. “We used to only have a few phone calls and letters, but since then we were able to Skype and have phone calls more frequently. I felt better being able to hear him more often.”
Some spouses don’t particularly enjoy the moving aspect of being in the military, but Morales said she enjoys it and knows it’s not for everyone.
“Spouses do a lot for the service members,” said Sgt. Marks. “I know that while I’m gone on deployments, I can trust that everything will be fine back home. I know that my kids are being taken care of and that my wife is handling everything in the best way possible.”
One of the challenges military spouses sometimes face, is being kept apprised of military events and news, but not for his wife, explained Marks.
“She keeps me informed on a lot of stuff that’s going on around the base,” said Marks. “If I’m busy all day at work, I know that she’ll still keep me updated on what I need to know. I’m sure not a lot of the Marines actually realize what spouses do for them as a whole. My wife keeps me grounded, helps with my uniforms, keeps my hair looking good, and cooks while I’m out.”
After 28 years of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, military spouses have become involved in many support groups; one very popular group is Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront has many events throughout the country’s military installations, that focus on the needs of military families with a deployed loved one. Another accomplished group of military spouses and parents is the Blue Star Mothers of America group. This group supports troops overseas by sending care packages and other needed supplies.
“I’ve gone on four deployments,” said Marks. “One of the main things that got me through is receiving letters and phone calls. It makes you realize it’s the little stuff that helps you get through everything. I know she’s taking care of the family back home; she’s strong.”
MCLB Barstow with be hosting a brunch in honor of military spouses at the Maj. Gen. James L. Day Conference Center, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, contact Julie Wilbanks at (760) 577-6675.