Heroes Among Us: Military Spouses

Army wives at Fort Carson on deployment day, June 11, 2011. Photo courtesy of Tracie Ciambotti

How do you define a hero?  I immediately think of those in uniform—the men and women serving in the Armed Forces or the first responders who protect us in our communities.  Heroes, however, don’t always wear uniforms and carry guns; they live among us in most neighborhoods in this country.

My husband, Jeff, and I have been living 2000 miles apart since the middle of July when I came to Pennsylvania for a summer visit with my family.  My plan to return to Colorado mid-August changed due to a medical situation with my daughter.  Jeff and I have been learning how to manage our relationship, two households, and the myriad of other things that couples encounter—from separate locations.

The U.S. Army soldiers walking into the gymnasium on deployment day at Ft. Carson.

The challenges that Jeff and I have faced over the past months, as difficult as some have been, seem minor in comparison to what military couples endure.  I call him anytime I have a question or just need to talk, he can come here and visit me whenever he wants, and he is not in a dangerous war zone.

This experience has given me fresh perspective and deep appreciation for the courage it takes to be a military spouse, particularly during deployments.  They can’t call their spouse; they must wait for calls to come to them.  They don’t have the luxury of arranging a visit whenever they want and they awake every morning to the reality that the love of their life is fighting a war.

Tracie's daughter-in-law, Alison, and son, Josh, prior to deployment.

Despite how they feel or what they are going through personally, they make themselves available to help and support another military spouse when a need arises.  The bond they have is unbreakable and many say their combined strength is what gets them through.

I have watched my daughter-in-law, Alison, grow into a courageous and admirable Army wife over the past several years and I applaud the way she has become a mentor to new wives.

I think back to deployment day, this past June, as I stood beside real Army wives watching their husbands disappear into the gymnasium; the soldiers heading to war were not the only heroes at Fort Carson that day.

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