By Mindy Brewster
JUST a retiree spouse.
I know it has been talked about before. A little thing called stereotypes. We have all heard them. There is one that is very rarely talked about though. The retiree. When we think of retirees we think of a older,gray-headed person living in an RV traveling from base to base. I admit, I have done the same thing. I sit here now thinking about 1 year from now. My husband will be hitting the big 20 and retiring from the United States Navy.
I recently saw a cartoon on Military Spouse Social media site. It depicts a gentleman getting the retirement party while the wife is befuddled in the background asking, “Am I retired too?” I read the comments and was flabbergasted at the people who really put down the military spouse saying, “it is not HER career,” and, ”why should she be retired, its not like being a milspouse is a REAL job.” Wow, harsh right.
So, it got me thinking, What I am to do with my life after the retirement? I have dedicated the better part of 13 years to my sailor and his career. I have volunteered countless hours counseling and connecting spouses and advocating for housing, benefits and so much more. I have never given my own career a second thought, because I know every few years I would have to pick up and leave something behind.
I began to think that I am now a seasoned spouse and can still help many of those new spouses coming into this life. My husband said, “But you will be JUST a retiree spouse, are you sure they will want to talk to you?” WHAT?!?!? I have a few years of experience, why wouldn’t they want to talk to me? And that is when it hit me that when I or anyone else for that matter hears “RETIRED” they think of the stereotype. I am 32 years old and will be a retiree spouse. Yes, I believe that I have the right to retire as well. I will no longer be invited to the active events, the social time, the play dates. Why? Because we are not active anymore.
So, let me nip this in the bud right now. Retiree spouses have endured so much. Most of those gray haired, RV dwellers have suffered deployments long before the Internet, Skype, Facebook and more. They talked the old fashioned way, rotary phones and snail mail. I look up to them, I envy them, I would never have survived like they did. I may not be older, but I will still be a retiree spouse and I have some of my own personal stories and my own knowledge that can help the new spouses.
With this new insight, I believe I can still make a difference in someone’s life. I will still advocate for our military. I will still offer a helping hand to those in need. I may be JUST another Retiree Spouse, but dag nabit I am good at what I do and proud to do it every single day. So, before you judge a book by its cover, perhaps take a moment and get to know who you are judging. You never know if they will change your life.