Up and down the Eastern seaboard this week, many military spouses heard words from their spouse that no one wants to hear:
I’m considered essential personnel. I have to stay, even if you don’t.
The term ‘essential personnel’ is being tossed around like dirty laundry right now, and I get it. We all get it. We love our spouses. We love our friends. We don’t want anyone to get hurt. Hurricanes are scary, and even if you’re not in the direct path, the future is still uncertain with the risk of flooding or surge water, especially along the coast.
But here’s the thing: when your spouse or loved one joined the military, they knew that there would be times that their lives would be at risk to serve the greater good – something that is bigger than ourselves. As a veteran myself, it was not something I took lightly, knowing that I could be called to duty in a multitude of different ways in just a moment’s notice through the years, always “mission before me.”
We swore to protect and defend our nation, and that oath doesn’t stop when our zone is evacuated.
As military spouses, we need to take the helms for our husbands and wives that’ll be out there this week getting the job done so that they can focus on their mission knowing their families are safe, regardless if you decide to hunker down or evacuate.
It’s important to understand that the military is moving assets not just to save money, but in many cases their actions will also save lives. It just isn’t safe to have nuclear ships and submarines sitting on the pier unless it’s absolutely necessary – and the ships that do stay need to have personnel aboard to ensure another potential disaster doesn’t happen, and that goes beyond dings to the ships from hitting their pier.
Many of the medications in the hospital need refrigeration as well, and so there must be someone at the ready to put them on ice if necessary, and our spouses and loved ones serving in the military hospitals are ready to care for patients not able to be evacuated or for those coming in needing emergency care through the storm, if they’re able to reach the hospital.
Finally, many personnel are helping to secure equipment, ready shelters aboard the bases, and sandbag as much as they can before the storm, which will hopefully not just payoff by saving lives but will also help save our infrastructure so that we can get back to normal as quickly as possible.
For those sitting out there angry right now that their spouses may be in danger: this is what we (those in the military) do. We don’t always like it, but it is our job to always be ready. The best thing you can do for your spouse is to do whatever you need to so that your family can be safe.
In the meantime, I promise you our loved ones will be doing everything possible to keep each other, and the families living on base, safe as well.
For many of us, not having our spouse with us as we make decisions and to through this storm or drive hundreds of miles alone or with our kids and/or pets will feel like the “darkest part of the mission” – we all have these defining moments in our lives. But our community will get through this and persevere, and a huge part of that will be due to the bravery and actions performed by the spouses and loved ones we leave behind.
Be ready, be prepared, and be safe.