Audrey Rothstein, wife of Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein, shares a laugh with military spouses including Debbie Alexander (right), wife of Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, chief of the Central Security Service and director of the National Security Agency, at the installation's annual Military Spouse Appreciation Luncheon held May 10 at Club Meade.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (May 17, 2012) -- Military spouses contribute greatly to the stability of their families and are the backbone of the armed forces.

That was the sentiment Audrey Rothstein, wife of Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein, shared with 85 military spouses during the installation's annual Military Spouse Appreciation Luncheon on May 10 at Club Meade.

"Whether you realize it or not, you volunteered to join the Army, or the military, too, when you said 'I do' to your service member. And for that, you are immediately set apart from all other spouses of the world," she said. "You stand above the others not only for your strength, determination and resiliency but also for your tremendous sacrifice -- and for some -- the ultimate sacrifice."

Audrey Rothstein and Frank Klein, husband of Navy Rear Adm. Margaret Klein, chief of staff, U.S. Cyber Command, were the guest speakers for the 90-minute event, which was sponsored by Army Community Service.

"I think it was fantastic," Natalie Overby, wife of Ensign James Overby of the Naval Information Operations Command, said of the program. "I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about how life is for military spouses."

Celena Flowers, Family Advocacy Program manager at ACS, emceed the luncheon. Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Sid Taylor gave the invocation.

The event also was attended by Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith and his wife, Audrey; and Debbie Alexander, wife of Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, chief of the Central Security Service and director of the National Security Agency.

In his remarks, Klein called military spouses "American heroes."

"Real heroes see the right thing and they do the right thing, no matter the cost," he said. "What you have sacrificed for your uniformed partner to do what he or she does is the right thing, and I have learned that it doesn't come without a cost."

Klein retired as a Navy commander in 2000. In August, he and his wife will have been married 30 years. They are the parents of two adult children.

Military spouses embody the statement "not self, but country," Klein said, noting that the commitment of military spouses is reflected in two national organizations.

Klein spoke about the National Military Family Association founded in 1969 by a group of military wives during the Vietnam War. The women wanted to make sure their widowed friends would be properly taken care of after the death of their uniformed spouse.

Two years later, the military's Survivor Benefit Plan became law.

"Congress didn't do it without a push from people who cared," Klein said. "And the people who cared were military spouses."

Klein also spoke about Bonnie Carroll, a major in the Air Force Reserve, who established the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors in 1994 after her husband, Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, died in a plane crash. TAPS helps grieving families by providing ongoing, peer-based emotional support.

Carroll was a military wife who "channeled her grief into something positive -- not for self, but for country," Klein said.

Military spouses, he said, put aside their personal ambitions to serve the greater good.

"You take care of the family, you take care of the uniformed service member, you take care of each other, you take care of Team Meade," Klein said. "And you take care of our country's defense."

In his welcoming remarks, the garrison commander thanked Fort Meade's military spouses for their commitment to their service member and family.

"We want to thank you for everything you've done to make us whole," Col. Rothstein said. "The backbone of our Soldiers and our service members really is the family, and that starts with you."

The colonel called his wife an "incredible caretaker" as the mother of their two children, Sam and Emily.

"The strength she's had and her personal courage mean a lot," he said.

After the event, Darryl Bradley, husband of Navy Senior Chief Michele Brady, 10th Command/10th Fleet at the National Security Agency, said the speeches were meaningful.

"It felt good that Colonel Rothstein and his wife said thank you," he said.

Page last updated Fri May 18th, 2012 at 11:24