This was originally posted on the Military Spouse Advocacy Network blog, and I’m honored to be working with them! You can read the original post, and find more great information for those who support service members and veterans most, by going here

Dear Military Spouse,

The few words I write here today are not going to even touch the surface of the amount of appreciation I have for you. You might not know it, but May 12th is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Like many other days in the year that are meaningful to service members, I ask myself: why just this one? Why only one day throughout the entire year? Perhaps it’s because a military spouse constantly taken for granted, and this one day requires me to seriously consider how much I appreciate you.

If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It may sound cliché, but for me, it’s the absolute truth. It’s not about holding down the fort while I was out doing what I needed to do,it goes much deeper than that. Just as I have a lasting bond with the brothers and sisters I served with, who I endured hardship with and came out the other side of the fire, you and I are going to be forever connected. You were there during times of celebration and triumph, when wings or medals were pinned and accolades were given. You were also there in times of darkness, in the alone times and despair times. We held each other when we thought all hope was gone, and we had each other when we saw nothing but hope on the horizon.

Whatever success I had in the military is entirely dependent on the support I received from you. The constant encouragement of “you can do this” and “we can do this” was often counterbalanced by some very real discouragement…”Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” and “Maybe you should  go about it this way.” In many ways, you are my guide, my muse, my refuge in times of stress, and my reason to continue. You are my conscience, my support, my other half, and one of the constant things in my life beyond the constant change of the military.

When we got married, you might not have known how important those wedding vows would become. For richer or poorer was a critical one, because you know we don’t make much money. Those days of living paycheck to paycheck and figuring out which bills to pay first…it’s the part of military life that we don’t often realize, but is more common than many might think. Together in sickness and in health? How were you to know that sickness would include a faraway look in my eye on certain days of the year, of a distance in my thoughts that means that I’m somewhere a half a world away? How could you have predicted that the service member you married, and sent away with tears in your eyes, would return to you different, changed?

It has been said that: “A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount up to and including their life.” If that’s the case, then you certainly co-signed that check, and wrote a similar one. Your career is put on hold, and constantly disrupted by the many moves that we made. The sacrifice of your hopes, dreams, and ambitions, for the sake of love, and honor, and pride: they are all appreciated.

The long nights alone. The midnight calls. The last minute changes. The friends that you have, stretched from one end of the country to another. The job description for a military spouse would be littered with words like “resilient,” “flexible,” “steadfast,” and “adaptable.” The skill requirements would include familiarity with carpentry, plumbing, automotive repair, customs and courtesies, financial planning, therapist, cheerleader, and lion tamer. Who, in their right mind, says to themselves at the age of twelve, “I want to grow up and become someone who lives in nine houses, in two countries, in the first ten years of my marriage?” And yet you were right there with me, during every last minute change.

I know, in my head and in my heart, that the only way that I was able to serve my country was because I had the confidence that you had my back. If the American Service Member is the unsung hero, the silent professional, the sentinel at the gate, then you are that for me. You don’t get the medals, you don’t receive the recognition. Instead, you support. You guide. You simply be.

You are appreciated, possibly more than you could ever know.

With sincere love,

The Warrior

The Head Space and Timing Blog is supported by the Colorado Veterans Health and Wellness Agency, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The goal of the CVHWA is to provide military culturally competent mental health counseling to veterans and their spouses, regardless of characterization of discharge, time of service, or era of service. Our vision is to assist veterans to identify and remove barriers to their mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral wellness. For questions or inquiries, contact us!

Categories: MSAN Blogs

Duane France

Duane K. L. France is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a mental health counselor practicing in the state of Colorado. Do you want to join the conversation regarding veteran mental health? Share, like, and comment. Read Duane's previous posts and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep the conversation about #veteranmentalhealth going.