This is written by a military wife, who, at her own admission, knows nothing about anything when it comes to matters of the green.  The only thing I know for certain, is that camo’s will always smell like diesel, no matter how many times they are washed, you spouse will be taken away from you at the most inopportune times, and the healthiest of children will always get sick the moment daddy leaves!

The military life is often a confusing one at best, then throw in, what some perceive as the rank heirarchy, and you have something that will drive you almost mad on the best of days….so, I ask politely, please leave your rank at our door…..and bear with this confused middle aged woman, as I try and muddle through the murkiness of military life.

I married into the military, I was green as green could be when it comes to all this rank nonsense.   I often joke that I wish my husband  was a garbage man, it would make life far less complicated, but as with every joke, there is a hint of truth within that statement.

Historically there has been a division between Officers and NCO’s…..there was a definite line in the sand, and one group did not associate with the other.  Why, you may ask?  I couldn’t tell you. My dear husband tried to explain it to me, but even with the “logical” points laid out before me, my final comment was “yes, but I still don’t get it.”   Even within the Officer community, spouse’s of lower ranking Officer’s were expected to serve those of higher rank.  Why?  Once again, I have no good reason to offer up, as it all seems quite antiquated and snobbish to me…..but, this is also coming from a woman who spends a lot of time in pajamas or bright neons;  on the edge of cutting etiquette, not quite!

There is also a line which differentiates between regiments.  I understand loyalty to  your regiment ie: PPCLI, RCR, Van Doo etc…., but what I do not understand is the superiority conflict a lot of members have when it comes to regiment.  It is well known, that the PPCLI don’t like the RCR’s, and vice versa, and that neither aforementioned regiments like the Van Doo’s, (none of which I pretend to comprehend,) Once again dh tried to explain this to me to no avail.  Until I stop hearing comments like “he is not bad for a Patricia”will I actually believe that this type of thing does not exist. It will then, and only then be the point, when I will stop, fighting back the overwhelming urge to say, ” Yes, and you are not bad for someone who obviously just started walking upright !”….(nothing like using pre-teen fighting words, to get your point across).  Until this day, I will compose myself, and wait for the next occassion when perhaps I can pull out my rapier wit and really sock it to the individual who utters those words.  It hasn’t happened to date.

I  have always been under the impression that all members of the Canadian Forces were fighting under the same flag, for the same common goal, but with the whole rank and regiment “thing”, I sometimes wonder.  It would look like I may be mistaken, somebody please tell me I am not!!!….I suppose somewhere in the deep history of the Canadian Forces, Patricia’s were convicted of swinging small kittens around by the tails before smacking their foes upside the heads with them, thus leading to their reputation.  I will do some research into this.

All joking aside, this is a real issue that I have battled with in my thirteen years with Michael.  I was raised to respect everyone, regardless of skin colour, ethnic origin, religious belief, or place in life (I can add regardless of sexual orientation now, but since I am catching up on dust in longevity, it would be a falsehood to list that as a principal of how I was raised)….in short, we are all created equal, treat everyone that way.

Enter the biggest established clique still up and running, the military community.  Maybe it is because of the size of this community across our country that the clique status still remains, maybe it is because of members who continue to perpetrate long lost ideals within their own families;  this question is up for debate.  I want to say that I have met some of the best women, with whom I am friends, in the military community.  They have brought so much knowledge, experience, laughter and love into my life, they have showed me humility and the endurance of the human spirit, and I can not thank them enough.   I have also, by no stretch of the imagination, met the absolute worst. I don’t say this lightly or to be cruel, I am just being honest.  There are individuals who have left a path of destruction for others while they spin their path of filth throughout the community without thought of action or consequence.

We will inevitably  meet two kinds of people in life…. ones who build us up and ones who tear us down; but in the end, we will thank them both.   I have not become a big enough person yet in my personal growth to get to the point of thanking those that have hurt me.  I see us all as one “special” family,  and, as members of a military family why would we go out of our way to hurt those that are facing the same daily struggles as every one else?  First I must understand the “why”, then it may all become clear…  One day…perhaps.

Like with the members who serve in our proud military, one would think that the commonalities that the spouse’s share would pull us together.  There are very few places outside the military community, where spouse’s share the same fears, frustrations, and joys;  yet even these become dividing issues within the community. One up-manship is rampant among those wearing the uniform and their families, and this I find heartbreaking.   My fear of my husband deploying to a war zone is just as real and terrifying for me and my children as for anyone else, my frustrations of the inner workings of the military cause me angst just like any neighbour, and my joy in reunions, promotions, and any recognition for my husband or any one I know is real.  I don’t do fake, and if you don’t realize that by now, please stop reading.

For me, I form friendships on common interests, beliefs, the ability to share with one another, and the love of neon!!:  the usual things that draw people together, (well maybe not the neon).  I don’t choose my friends based upon what their spouse does, to me that is nonsense.  Truth be told, we don’t spend a lot of time talking the ins and outs of our spouses. I don’t regard my friends or their spouses as my “military friends”, they are part of my life…one’s I have chosen to let into my heart, and they are the most inspirational people you will ever meet in your life.  I sometimes sit in awe of the women who have blazed a path through my life;  their stories, struggles, victories…this is the stuff legends are made of.  Yet, there are the one’s, who for whatever the reason, love to throw around the garbage, and the greatest garbage they dig up is that of “rank” and the ability of a spouse to wear it!!

I have yet to meet anyone in my many travels, who would fit this description, and certainly none who secretly wear their husbands uniforms! (remember that terrible diesel smell I was speaking about earlier?)   I have met extremely strong, independent, vocal women who, through the thoughtless comments of others have been labelled this way.  Why?  People can be cruel, and unhappy…..that is the only reason I can come up with.

I have been on the receiving end of this comment, ( and no one can understand how hurtful this statement is, until it has been laid at your feet). I have searched my closet from end to end, and still have not found anything even vastly resembling  camo. (sorry, I do own a camo onesy!)  None of my ID’s have any fancy title in front of my name, no medals adorn my walls (sorry I do have one tucked away, the small Meritorious Service Medal Michael slipped into my hand when we were in Ottawa.  He told me “I am receiving this medal, but it is you who really deserves it…without you I wouldn’t be standing here today).  So I ask, what rank am I wearing?  NONE!….I have none, nor will I ever.   My most important title is wife and mother, my husband’s is daddy!!!  I am my husband’s biggest cheerleader and supporter, but that does not make me him…it makes me someone who loves him, for all that he is.   I have spent countless hours trying to unravel the mystery of rank, and why people feel the need to use it as a weapon against others;  like many other things, this is something I am still working on.

I will state that I am Proud of all my husbands accomplishments and achievements, as I believe any spouse is.  I will never apologize for the amazing man he is, and if this makes people uncomfortable then that would be their issue, not mine.  I will never apologize for the position he has, or the person he is.  Michael has worked his entire life since graduation, serving his country, and in that, like any serving member, I think we should be grateful, not spiteful.

The long and short of all this is, there is so much about the military I do not understand…..I don’t view my friends in terms of civilian or military, Officer or NCO …..I view my friends, as part of the circle of my family, people I have chosen to share my life with.  We share in the good times, cry with each other during the bad, we laugh, we yell………we live!!!!!  So, if you decide to stop by the ole homestead, pajamas are suggested (as then I won’t feel badly about my reservations about getting dressed to stay at home), always have your coffee request ready, and please, please remember, …. as the sign by the front door states “Please leave your rank at the door!”

PS:  If anyone military has read this, my husband is aware how ill-informed I am on this subject.  He has tried to explain it to me, but I still don’t get it!  🙂