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By Stacey Queen

Military Spouse Appreciation Day recognizes and honors the wives and husbands who support their spouses serving in the nation’s armed forces. Servicemen and women play a vital role in keeping our country safe, at home and abroad, while the love and support of their families sustain them when often they are many miles away for long periods of time. At the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, we honor and share stories of the service and sacrifice of our country’s Veterans, those on active duty and their families and spouses who demonstrate unwavering and loving support.

Being a supportive military spouse can sometimes be complicated and present incredible challenges, however, the rewards can outweigh those challenges. Mindy Butler, wife of retired Army Col. William J. Butler, shared her insights about her role as a military spouse. Their experience is based on being in the active Army for 27 years, living overseas for much of that time and deploying to combat with infantry units. Mindy and Bill, along with their two children, Bailey and Will, loved their experience and the incredible relationships they built along the way.

While Col. Butler was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, Mindy held down the home front. She made sure the Butler kids and families in the unit were taken care of since they were all assigned to a base in Italy away from traditional family support. Those solid relationships with other military spouses and families were essential. Being part of a strong unit and having great friends was helpful for the family during both good and difficult times.

Sometimes the military had to come first. Not to say servicemen and women value their military careers over family, but they have a clear understanding that moments will arise when they may not be home to celebrate those milestone moments like birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. Late nights and weekends are not your own; it certainly was not a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. job, and that was okay.

A final word of wisdom is for spouses to find a good life balance that includes personal goals and open lines of communication. Our servicemen and women may face insurmountable issues concerning the safety and security of our country. While they work hard to keep us safe, their spouses have to develop creative ways to make life as normal as possible and explore ways to positively communicate with their spouses and keep them reassured and focused on their duties. Balancing being a supportive spouse, attentive parent and active member of the military community are the reasons why we honor and commend the dedication of military spouses.

Just as members of the armed forces demonstrate love and duty to country, military spouses show their love, duty and support for their spouses. Spouses who are courageous and brave stand as pillars in military families across the world. Thank you military spouses!    

Bill and Mindy Butler

Mrs. Mindy Butler and Col. William J. Butler, U.S. Army (Retired), March 2016 during Plebe Parent Weekend at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

Stacey Queen is the Public Programs Manager at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. She oversees education programs and resources for students K-12 through college, engaging learners of all ages in the lessons of Veterans’ stories of service, sacrifice and contributions to our nation.  She can be reached at squeen@nationalvmm.org