“Battle buddies”. We have all heard the term. Each of our service members have friends with whom they have endured circumstances that we, as spouses, could never comprehend. These battle buddies are lifelong friends that are really more like family when it is all said and done. Beyond these unbreakable brotherhoods, however, is an equally demanding and necessary kind of battle buddy; military spouses who are constantly left behind and who find support in a friend who is enduring similar circumstances on the home front, from duty station to duty station.
Several months ago, I wrote an article ‘Orange Shorts and Dog Tags’ where I opened up about my life as an army spouse with health problems, my experience with reality television and the judgments that come along with both. After the article was published, it became increasingly more apparent to me just how significant the military spouse bond truly is. Christine Robertson (from A&E’s hit show ‘Duck Dynasty’, and the wife of Si Robertson who viewers of the show will remember is a Vietnam veteran) was sweet enough to reach out to me regarding her experience as an army wife and more specifically, battling family health problems while being at Ft. Bragg, where we are currently stationed. Her kind words as an experienced army wife over Si’s 20 years of service were so warming to me, a ‘newbie’ army wife, who has only been married to a service member for just shy of four years. She, of course was not the only spouse who reached out to me. I experienced an overwhelming amount of love and support from total strangers who are stationed all over the world. My faith in the military spouse community was increasingly getting stronger. I was blessed with new battle buddies at every turn.
That article also put me in contact with Marsha Robertson, the wife of Uncle Si’s son Scott, who is an active duty soldier currently stationed in Virginia at Fort Eustis. (She is also Uncle Si’s personal assistant and the mommy of a small army of her own.) A subscriber and fan of Military Spouse Magazine, we connected because of the article… but in the months following, Marsha has become one of those friends that every military spouse needs. We all know who I am talking about, right? The person that will let you speak unfiltered about any subject, will laugh along with you judgment free, and is always there to offer support and kind words through any situation.
If your blood family is anything like mine, they specialize in saying precisely everything on the list of ‘Things NOT to Say to A Military Spouse’ and having friends in the same boat is more comforting than we often times are willing to admit. At the end of the day, we are all out to support our service members so that they can fulfill their passion to serve our country. Marsha is no different.
In fact, it surprised me how very similar Marsha and her family are to so many other military families. Maybe I assumed that the celebrity status of her family would make her experience somehow different. I was wrong.
Recently Marsha told me, “Other Soldiers always ask Scott if he’s going to appear on Duck Dynasty when he gets out of the military and he always says that the show is his dad’s thing… The Army is his.” Certainly he could join his family in the spotlight and be an idol to millions of people for being on television. But, he has chosen a different path. One of service. So many of us have husbands and wives who have chosen this lifestyle, many times giving up something that many would jump at the chance to pursue. Marsha is proud of her husband’s choice… just like I, and so many of you, are proud of the paths our spouses have decided upon.
When I asked her if she and Scott ever appeared on the show, her response was so humbling. ‘The military keeps us away from filming… serving the country was my husband’s priority, as opposed to celebrity status.’
We talk about the difficulties of being away from family and putting the Army first. “The last few years we have only gotten to see Si and Christine about once a year and we haven’t gotten to see the rest of the family nearly as frequently as we’d like to,” she explains. “It’s just difficult to fit family visits in around the Army schedule while we are stationed so far from home.”
We ALL have the same struggles, no matter who our family is or how famous our roots are. We are all military spouses. Period.
Of course, the cast members of Duck Dynasty aren’t exactly strangers to military life themselves. ‘Si served for over 20 years and retired as a Sergeant First Class. “Scott wanted to be a soldier ever since he was little because he looked up to his dad,” Marsha said. ”Willie and Jep actually just came back from Afghanistan where they did meet and greets with our troops. They also have had different wounded warriors come hunt with them.”
The Robertson’s passion and support for our military became more apparent as I got to know Marsha. She told me of Si’s appearance at the Army’s birthday celebration and his active support of the local recruiter’s station in their home town. Marsha even mentioned the families’ support of the Wounded Warrior Project and expressed that upon getting out of the Army, Scott plans to dedicate his time to giving back to the military community along with the help of Christine and Si.
Marsha is grounded when she talks of herself and her family. “There was an episode where Si was going to Virginia for the birth of his grandson… that was when he was on his way here for the birth of our son Wyatt,” That hit home for me. Although many of us wouldn’t have a camera crew along for the ride, how many of us have stories that involve long travel for things that in the civilian world would be out of the norm? How many of us didn’t have the privilege of our family being there for the delivery of our children? Or for graduations, promotions and even holidays??
My friendship with Marsha has reminded me to hug my friends tighter, bake them some extra fatty cupcakes and bring them a box of tissues. We are ALL living a life of sacrifice, no matter how glamorous our lives may seem from the outside. We are ALL a family, we are all Battle Buddies.
…and everyone is invited to come over to my house with a bottle of wine to watch the new season of Duck Dynasty that starts on January 15th!