14. “Your WIFE is in the military?”
Our male and same-gender military spouse friends can certainly attest to the frequency of this one. “The times, they are a-changin.”
15. “Are all of your friends like the women on that TV show?”
I think we can all agree that programming like “Army Wives” is great for raising awareness and support for military families, but all doctors are not like the people in “Grey’s Anatomy,” and all strategists are not like the people on “Scandal.” But this is another great opportunity to talk about our community diversity: “I wouldn’t say that all of my friends are like any one thing.”
16. “Do you think your husband/wife has ever killed anybody?”
Veterans consistently say this is the most not-okay question they are asked, but it comes up a lot so civilians must not know it. You could go with “That’s classified.” Or you could try honesty: “Even I don’t ask my husband/wife that question.”
17. “Does your husband/wife act like a drill sergeant at home, too?”
Because most people’s frame of reference for the military is movies, and because, since most civilians don’t know what an ‘MOS’ is, they most certainly don’t know that there are hundreds of them, most of which don’t include yelling at people. But, “Yeah, and you better watch out or she/he will make you drop and give him/her 50!” could be fun!
18. “So when are y’all getting out?”
Military life is challenging, so it should be no surprise people assume we’re all scrambling for the door. But there are lots of reasons to love military life, so maybe take the opportunity to share some of them. Or, if you actually are scrambling for the door, what better time to show off that countdown app you got off of iTunes?
19. “Your husband/wife is fighting in this war, so he/she must agree with what we’re doing over there, right?”
Fortunately, we live in a time when people are much better at separating the soldier from the conflict, but we still hear this question sometimes. Consider: “We love our country and so we serve, but we don’t get to decide where.”
20. “Don’t they get to come home for holidays and special occasions?”
What hurts the most about this one is that we wish it were true, and then of course there’s the look on the speaker’s face when you say “no.” But missing important moments certainly drives home the point that the whole family sacrifices, so civilians need to know.
21. “How on earth do you do it?”
Fight the impulse is to shout “I have no idea!” The truth is, this question is really a profound compliment-the asker saying, “I don’t think I could do this.” Fortunately, Tim Gunn has given us the perfect answer to this question: “We just make it work!”
22. “I just saw [insert horrible thing] about Afghanistan on the news. Was that your husband/wife?”
It’s not just civilians who are guilty of this one. Access to a constant stream of news sometimes means that social media is faster than the DOD in getting information out. Never be the person ‘breaking’ bad news to someone you think might be affected. And it’s okay to (kindly) tell civilians this is not okay.
23. “So, what can I do to help you?”
The best and most blessed of all questions from civilians. Answer it honestly; it’s the key to bridging the divide.