The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

May 15, 2014

Military spouses serve with honor

Holding down the homefront a tough mission

JOHNSTOWN — Our military members often face difficult jobs in dangerous situations far from home for very little pay. We don’t celebrate their efforts nearly enough.

But there are often others sweating out every mission and making sacrifices of their own thousands of miles away: the military spouse.

It cannot be easy to have a husband or wife serving overseas. Even in today’s high-tech world, regular communication is no guarantee as it can depend on the military assignment and its location.

Thankfully, the spouses do get some recognition on the homefront. Military Spouses Day, organized by Wessel & Co. and Veteran Community Initiatives Inc., was held last week at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

“We have parades and monuments to the war fighter, but never to the person that’s staying home and keeping the family intact,” said Bob Eyer, managing shareholder of the local accounting firm.

The sixth annual event focused on ways that friends and neighbors can help assist military spouses with the numerous challenges that husbands and wives can face during a deployment. As any single parent can attest to, duties can become overwhelming if one person is responsible for holding down a job, taking care of the children and managing the household.

“I wear different hats, so to speak,” said Beth Hetrick, whose husband, Scott, was deployed to Kosovo in through the National Guard for 16 months in 2004 and then to Afghanistan for a year in 2012. “I (spoke at the event) from the point of view that I’m not just a military spouse, I’m a wife, mother, friend, neighbor, colleague, member of the community and a military spouse.”

We understand that loneliness can be a problem for some military spouses, as they struggle to cope with the fact that a loved one can be gone for months on end. We urge readers to reach out to military spouses, not just on holidays, but throughout the year, to see if there is anything that can be done, even if it’s just to lend a sympathetic ear.

Hetrick said that what civilians often don’t realize is that the struggle for military spouses is not necessarily over when the deployment ends.

“We’re all focused on the homecoming. No one focuses on the two, five, even six months after, because you just do what you do, and you hope for the best,” she said.

“From my point of view, I’m looking at him saying ‘You’ve been gone for a year. I’ve taken over the mom and dad role. I’m a single parent.’ There has to be some form of communication prior to him coming home, to reintegrate the whole family.”

We don’t envy the workload that either side has to endure in a military marriage, but we do salute both sides for their sacrifices.

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