SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - May 8 is a day for appreciation. It is a day when we reflect on the heroes that dedicate their lives to the well-being of Soldiers and our nation. These heroes are our military spouses.

"I think the job of an Army spouse is one that is not easily understood in our society," said family member Amy Schardt, who participates in the family readiness group, or FRG, at B Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment. "The Army lifestyle definitely forces you to grow up ... but with all this responsibility comes great reward and opportunity."

As an Army wife, Schardt has shared life's greatest joys, disappointments and sorrows with complete strangers. She has explored numerous parts of the country and world, and she has developed strong bonds and lifelong friendships.

Schardt feels pride for our brave Soldiers, strong families and nation.

"Feelings like that cannot be obtained without sacrifice and challenge," said Schardt. "Standing in that room among that group of family members who endured the same struggles is what makes me proud to call myself an Army wife."

Living the life as an Army wife can be bittersweet, according to family member Michelle Bogus, whose husband, Chris, is a Soldier with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

"You marry the man and take on his duties, but in reality you have married the Soldier and the military is now your life," said Bogus.

She went on to account the many struggles military families face day-to-day, including, "long days and sleepless nights, the uncertainty of what your future may hold, deployments, moving, settling, friends who come and go, and starting all over again."

It is a struggle, but Bogus and her children face these challenges head-on with open hearts and open minds.
The Bogus family is constantly keeping busy with family activities, school and sports programs, fundraising, family readiness group functions, and numerous community service projects.

"The countless support we receive from family and friends, other military families and the community helps to alleviate some of our families' day-to-day stress," said Bogus. "Words cannot express the gratitude we have for them."

The numerous benefits received as an Army spouse is the bright side family member Mary Cook holds on to. Between the Blue Star Card, shopping privileges, health care, exotic travel and hobnobbing with higher officials, Cook believes she is being taken care of.

"Soldiers and families certainly pay for these (benefits) through all of their sacrifices, but I think we still get a pretty good deal," said Cook, the wife of the command sergeant major at 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. "Sometimes folks just need a little perspective, especially with the economy the way it is these days."

Since 1984, the Armed Forces have set aside a special day to acknowledge the significant contributions of Army spouses. This year, May 8 has been designated Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

The life of a military family is one of unique challenges. Spouses continue to meet these challenges with grace and strength.

"I have found this life to be a humbling experience, and I have taken solace within my family," said Bogus. "It has taught me to appreciate the selfless and self-sacrificing life of the Soldier." She continued, "As my husband took an oath to serve, defend and protect the United States of America and her people, so have we, the families of the Soldier. We proudly stand in support of all that he stands for and all that he does.

"Our Soldier is a vital part of our family and our nation," Bogus added. "It is our honor, privilege and duty to serve alongside of him."