Military spouse stereotypes; made for us, by us… to be used against us.
I met my husband at Hooters… let’s just get that out of the way real quick. I’ve learned the hard way that some people have a problem with it so I don’t want to withhold that little bit of information and have any unfair judgment prolonged. I would hate for anyone to read this entire thing thinking that I was a quality individual only to be shocked halfway through when they realize I served wings at a family restaurant! So, now you know. I’m sure you didn’t expect much more from me anyway… after all, I am married to an enlisted (GASP) Army soldier.
Most of you know ‘my story’. I use that term loosely and in quotations because if you watched ‘Married to the Army: Alaska’, you saw what seven episodes, (shared with six other women), captured during 10 whole months of my life. When I heard that there would be a ‘DocuSeries’ about Army Wives living in Alaska I was ecstatic. FINALLY!!! The world would learn about our struggles; they would be educated about our fears, they would receive insight into our lives and better understand the sacrifice that we, YES WE, make as spouses to service members. (I know. Many of you are rolling your eyes… because we all know I am not allowed to claim any part of my husband’s military career… that would make me a ‘tag chaser’ or a ‘rank wearer’) Anyway, my vision for what America would get to see about our lives didn’t really happen.
For those who may not have tuned into the show, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Traci Moran. I grew up in a home with a horribly ill father and sick mother. I moved out at the age of 18 to take on the responsibility of caring for myself. I racked up an extreme amount of medical bills after being wrongly diagnosed for years before finding out that I had some pretty serious medical conditions. I would tell you my symptoms, but they aren’t classy or Army spouse like. My life was a living hell. As each of my conditions got worse, the symptoms became excruciatingly painful and were becoming life threatening… my quality of life was gone. I was only 18 so I didn’t have an education to get a high paying job with benefits and I didn’t want to use any type of government assistance because there are people out there that need it more than I felt I did. I decided to put on a shiny pair of orange shorts and become a Hooters Girl.
Let me tell you, it was the greatest job EVER. The girls I worked with were incredible, management was amazing, I made enough money to pay for my health insurance, medical bills and everyday living… I was supporting myself as a teenager in a world where many grown adults can’t make ends meet. I paid for my education, bettered myself and began banking money. My husband Jared was in a three-month school right near where I worked and had become a regular customer due to his love of wings. (He wouldn’t lie to me, right?) We went out on one super classy date to the Waffle House and our fate was sealed; we were married 9 days later. Yes, that’s right. I gave up my stable, comfortable income to move across the US and Canada, to Alaska, to follow him, nearly a stranger, to his duty station to explore true love. That was my first experience with military spouse sacrifice.
In Alaska my health got worse. I had left all of my doctors back home, military healthcare has its own hurdles to jump through and I was living through hell. We got pregnant, had our daughter and he left to Afghanistan within weeks of Kinley’s birth. During his deployment I was rushed into emergency surgery, hospitalized for a week on three different occasions, had several procedures and managed to learn to be a mom to the most perfect little girl along the way. I didn’t know panic until I was being rushed into an operating room with my family 5000 miles away, a deployed husband and a daughter who needed someone to care for her. My incredible friends stepped up and saved me. They were by my side every step of the way. I couldn’t have survived deployment with
out my Army spouse sisters. They truly are my family, my best friends and my mentors. Those ladies are what I think of when I think of a military spouse. I refused to have my husband brought home from war because we all know that the mission comes first and this was no excuse for anything different. I hid most of my struggles from him because I didn’t want his head distracted from where he
was. Moving back to be near family wasn’t an option because I wanted him to know that he had his home to come back to. I would never want my husband to be at war and not have his personal space back home to picture. Every day was a struggle for me to put him and his job first.
Shortly after his return from Afghanistan things started to fall into place as I was given better doctors, the Army moved us into a special house to fit my needs and I had Jared home to help with Kinley on days when I could hardly take care of myself.
Sadly, the screenshot of my life that was captured due to the time constraints of a television show, was the image of a loud-mouthed, cursing Hooters girl who didn’t have enough class not to know that it is not appropriate to be honest when a high-ranking officer spouse asks you how you met your husband. That one screenshot is not who I was, and is certainly not an accurate picture of who I am today.
Today, despite having things get so much better when Jared returned home, things have again changed. We were recently sent to Fort Bragg where I have been turned away by every doctor in the area (including UNC) because my case is ‘too severe’. I am living in constant agony because no one here can help me but I refuse to rip Jared’s family away from him to spend boo-coo bucks to get treatment back ‘home’. Everyone who knows my case and how to help me is in Alaska. Tricare has become a sick and twisted hurdle for me, EFMP has hardly offered any support and my husband’s new duty station and our new home is my living nightmare.
This is the life (and many times, accurate portrayal) of an Army spouse. The real life. We struggle, we sacrifice, we suffer… all because we love a man or woman whose boots are routinely left in the walkway, whose uniform is constantly left on the floor and who wakes us in a panic at least one morning a week because their PT belt has disappeared.
Do I have a big mouth? Yes… but, I have a bigger heart. Do I use ‘bad’ words? I’ve been known to… but my message is always well intended. Did I work at Hooters? Yes, to support myself… and in way more clothes than most people wear to the beach. And if you think any woman in their right mind would marry a soldier for their money than perhaps you need to google their income.
I am Traci Moran, married to SGT Jared Moran. I am a strong-willed girl who overcomes any obstacles thrown at me. If you chose to judge me because I have a few tattoos, have a choice vocabulary and used my blonde hair and big boobs to support myself than perhaps you should look within yourself and find out what the problem truly is. My husband’s career is soaring, our bond is closer than ever and we are amazing parents. I would like to think that our sacrifice for this country is precisely what should define us as an Army family… not the ridiculously shallow guidelines that members of this community have made for us and the judgment that some of my peers have unfairly made from the outside.
As military spouses we are the ONLY ones that could EVER understand this struggle. We shouldn’t be fighting a war of harsh judgments and unfair expectations from one another on the home front while our service members are bravely protecting our great nation.