As a Milspo – that's military spouse – I'm often thanked for "my service." It's a statement to which I never know how to respond. I'm not serving … unless I brought you a stack of pancakes and refreshed your coffee (which, BTW I haven't done in years).
Even though it's meant as a compliment, it always feels misplaced.
That doesn't mean I don't contribute to my household, of course. It simply means I'm not a military member, and it makes me uncomfortable when people confuse the classification. My duties aren't really required, but done willfully.
What Does a Milspo Do?
Probably the most obvious "job" of a milspouse is acting as a support system. Aside from holding down the fort during deployments or crazy training hours, it's my job to be there – physically and emotionally. Cleaning, cooking, taking care of the baby, switching out vehicles so an oil changing appointment isn't missed. I've done all this and more, sometimes, on a last-minute basis.
Then there's moral support. Talking my soldier up when they've worked 16+ hour shifts for days at a time. Reassuring them when they've missed holidays and are spending a birthday watching movies in a bunk bed. (BTW you have to make it look like you're not having too much fun at Thanksgiving dinner or get-togethers, or else they'll be sad about what they're missing out on. Often this means sitting in a quiet room, setting out a round of board games, and commenting that Grandma's best-yet pecan pie is "only ok" this time around.)
Next, there are military events. Balls, welcome and goodbye events, and more – all of which require attendance and a good attitude. (Well, nothing is required; spouses don't have to go to events in the same way soldiers are voluntold – being told you're volunteering – and what's more is spouses certainly don't have to be nice if they do.) Your actions are a reflection of your service member, and while said actions might not have consequences, there's an impression to be made.
It's my goal to dress cleanly and to be polite at each event – military or otherwise.
There are everyday errands, like making sure dress blues are cleaned and pressed by X day. There is checking of all the uniform pockets (pens can hide anywhere in those things!) and making sure the PTs (physical training clothes) are clean.
And finally, there's acting as a sounding board. Just like I complain to my husband when I've had a bad day, he needs to complain to me. And I listen. Being heard is helpful and can do wonders for the mood.
Military Orientated vs. Civilian Life
Much of the above I don't consider "duties," nor are they specific to the military. They're my tasks and chores as a wife, not because they were assigned, but because taking care of my family is fulfilling. If that qualifies as service, so be it, but if that's the case, every contributing wife should be thanked for her household management. Milspos simply get a little more attention, and their own cool lingo to go along with it. A big hooah to all women getting it done, you're keeping the world in check and you deserve a pat on the back.