"Silent Soldiers"

  • Published
  • By Jack Hayden
  • 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron
Active duty members of the armed forces have certainly been getting a lot of press lately. Changes in our political world have resulted in new policies and procedures. Many media outlets have been focusing a great deal of attention on just how our armed forces will meet these new challenges. 

There have been few instances in peace time when our leaders found themselves on the front pages of so many influential newspapers week after week. Yet there is an entire army of people who have not only been swept to the perimeter during the current blitz of attention, but who are used to living their lives out of the spotlight. Somehow they seem to actually flourish "in the trenches." 

I think of these people as the "Silent Soldiers." They are our families. 

A great deal is expected of these troops. They must be flexible but strong. They must be supportive yet independent. Like their sponsors, they are on duty 24 hours a day. The spouse must be able to wear many hats, most often juggling more than one at the same time. The children must be able to shift easily from one-parent household during remote assignments and deployments, to the very different demands and rigors of joint parenting in a split-schedule world. 

Active duty members live in a hands-on, reward and consequence type of environment. When they do a good job, they have tangible and for the most part, prompt recognition of their accomplishments. They receive medals, promotions and commendations as well as the thanks and appreciation of superiors. Often their achievements are recognized publicly at ceremonies attended by peers, leaders and their families. 

Speaking as the 97th LRS Deployment and Distribution flight chief and retired military commander, I have seen through the years that those people in a squadron, who have produced results above and beyond the norm. They have been those men and women who are highly motivated, self-confident and eager to meet new and difficult challenges. 

Looking back, I have realized that those same individuals were often the ones whose families were the most supportive, the most involved and the most committed to the family unit. Interestingly, those families that run so efficiently and smoothly coincidentally afford the sponsor additional time they need to devote to the mission. 

Many active duty members have traveled to the far ends of the world. They have seen enough wonders and experienced enough adventures for several lifetimes. 

In some cases, their families have traveled only as far as photographs and postcards would take them. Others have relied on little more than life's necessities and a prayer as they left for parts unknown to join their spouse in various campaigns. 

Even when their mission has put them in harm's way during wartime, or when they have endured lonely assignments under arduous conditions, they have always had the focus and commitment to keep them grounded and centered. 

They always knew that their families were waiting patiently and anxiously for their return. Yet, even when they are away, their families still manage to get all the same duties accomplished with half the staff. 

Ironically though, the contributions these unpaid, enthusiastic, ardent volunteers make are often overlooked and taken for granted by those of us who have benefited directly from their efforts. Many of our spouses are hopelessly devoted to supporting their military spouse and those who serve alongside. Through political unrest, economic hardship, hurricanes and tornadoes, our families continue to stand by their military spouses. The life chosen is not a simple one, but it is meaningful. 

Recognize the sacrifices your families have made. Thank them--continuously.