By Sandra Wilson, USAG SchweinfurtMay 19, 2009
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- About 18 months ago, Lt. Col. Anthony Haager, U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt commander, put a pen to the Army Family Covenant, acknowledging that the Army recognizes the importance of the Soldiers' families to their readiness. In that same room May 8, the celebration of Military Spouse Appreciation Day took place.
"We're pretty proud of how we take care of our families," Haager said, addressing the event attendees. "Our community is very tight knit."
The close family can be greatly attributed to the spouses that put so much time into the community and remain active in the midst of their constantly shifting military lives.
"Your Soldiers can't do what they do without their spouses behind them," Haager said, explaining how, not only are they pillars in the community, but they uphold the home front. The role and experiences of a military spouse can play out much different than the average civilian spouse, he said.
"It's something you can't explain to other wives," said Cara Markham, who helped Haager cut the day's celebration cake with a sword. "You do sacrifice a lot, but you gain a bigger family."
Leaving her family in the states and joining the bigger Army family was only one of the transitions that she had to make in her first three months of being a military spouse. In that short period of time, she also got married, graduated from college, became pregnant, moved overseas, and sent her new husband off on a year-long deployment.
For some spouses, like Christina Painter who has been a military spouse for two years, the most recent challenge has been the deployments.
"Deployments to me are the hardest. Watching him leave Nathan is harder than watching him leave me," said Christina Painter, about her husband saying goodbye to their now-one-year-old son.
On the positive side, Painter described how they have enjoyed getting to see the world.
"Nathan has been to seven countries in 12 months," she said.
Chris Godfrey, who also served in the Army, now stays home with the kids while his wife serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 9th Engineer Battalion.
"Raising my kids- that's a reward for any parent," Godfrey said about being a military spouse that gets to stay at home. Being a military spouse has its challenges, but it also has been good, he said.
And with the constant motion of military life, one constant must remain, and that is the military spouse.
"This is about you," Haager said to the spouses. "Thank you."