Fort Lewis pays tribute to spouses
May 15, 2009
FORT LEWIS, wash. - When Megan Bjazevich married Sgt. 1st Class Jason F. Bjazevich, C Company, 2nd Special Forces Battalion, the military suddenly gave her a full-time position. Her title: Army wife.
Since that day, Bjazevich delivered twins, became the C Co., 2nd SF Bn., family readiness group leader and survived two major deployments. But despite how difficult it can be at times, Bjazevich said she is proud to be an Army wife.
"My husband loves what he does, and I wouldn't have it any other way," she said.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day took place on May 8 to pay tribute to spouses for their sacrifice and support. The day, which is commemorated the Friday before Mother's Day, was officially recognized 25 years ago when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation. At Fort Lewis, wives were treated to a breakfast at the Post Exchange, a fragrance festival and extended child care hours for a parental date night.
According to a Fort Lewis Public Affairs Office press release, more than half of the Soldiers serving today are married.
"In the old days the saying was 'If the Army wanted you to have a wife, it would issue you one,'" said Tanya Biank, author of "Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage," which was the basis for the Lifetime television series "Army Wives." "That has changed, thankfully, and the new saying is 'You recruit a Soldier but you retain a family.'"
Biank has a 2-year-old son with her husband, a lieutenant colonel in the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart. Her husband was stationed at Fort Lewis before they were married.
To write her nonfiction narrative, she followed the lives of four women who were living in the Fort Bragg, N.C., community.
"When you're telling an Army story,you usually think of the war, but to me, you can tell a compelling war story off the field," she said.
Some of those stories, she said, include a spouse being told her husband won't be back for Christmas for the second year in a row and a mother trying to explain to her little boy why his father isn't coming home.
"There is a wonderful support system in the Army, but it is still really hard," Biank said.
Bjazevich said her husband's deployments push her to become more self-sufficient.
"It's like Murphy's Law," she said. "Whenever he's gone, something always goes wrong."
But she said her children, who were only 11 weeks old when her husband first left, keep her entertained.
"They're what keep me going through deployments," she said.
Along with being the main point of contact for the nearly 60 spouses in C Co., 2nd SF Bn., Bjazevich started the 2nd Battalion Welcome Committee, which provides information to new spouses. She said her involvement in the Army has been a great way to thank the Soldiers.
"They sacrifice so much for us, this is a good way to give back," she said.
But Biank said Army wives, like Bjazevich, serve just as their husbands do. According to Biank, Army wives are both mothers and fathers to their children during deployments and volunteer countless hours to the community with little recognition - all while their husbands are in harm's way.
"It takes a strong, independent woman to be an Army wife."
Kelly McGrath is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.