Wherever you’re from, be it Britain, America, Ukraine, Russia, or somewhere else in the world; a military spouse is a military spouse.
With recent escalations, I thought I’d try an share (my take on) the perspectives of spouses around the globe. Whilst the world is watching events unfold, spouses are watching from their own unique position.
Over the last day or so, I have seen both British and American spouses on social media expressing their compassion for Ukrainian spouses, and their worries about what this may mean for their own serving spouse.
Will they be deployed at a moment’s notice?
Will they have to join NATO forces along the Baltic states?
How long for?
How soon before they leave?
What will they be expected to do?
Questioning if those already deployed will soon be on a frontline no one expected?
The truth is, no one really knows for sure. The only thing for certain in military life is that there will be uncertainty. The anxiety is real! Serving or spouse, we both feel it.
In Ukraine, there will be spouses terrified for their husbands, wives, and partners confronting Russian forces. Veterans are returning to service leaving spouses who thought this life was done with, wondering how long it’ll last for? Civilians are taking up arms to defend their cities – a scenario none of us can imagine! Their spouses and children fleeing the country, proud of the loved one they left behind, yet petrified of the unknown.
In Russia, there will be spouses afraid of what their soldiers are heading in to. What defence will they be faced with? Will their spouse be one of the ‘statistics’ in this war? Perhaps their spouse is part of a war they don’t entirely agree with, but they have a job to do. The world is seeing their spouse as ‘the enemy’, yet to them they’re just their loved one.
Spouses in the Baltic states may be watching their spouses join the other NATO forces on the Eastern flank, questioning if they’ll become more involved; wondering if the war will creep closer?
There will be those of us with pilots for spouses, watching with horror as aircraft are shot out of the sky; feeling that gut-wrenching ‘what-if’, knowing the realities of the situation.
Others may have tank driver spouses, watching the equally distressing images of those being destroyed, understanding the consequences for the crew’s families.
Infantry spouses around the world will be sharing the fear felt by spouses on both sides of this terrible situation.
Mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers will be praying their loved ones return unharmed from this conflict. Praying their civilian families are safe.
On Thursday (the day the invasion began) I met my best friend for a walk and her first question was, “Has ‘not-husband’ said anything about going to the Baltics?”. Our fears are the same, our worries are the same, but we are no different to the American spouse asking the same question 4,000 miles away.
Yet somehow we are also alone. Many people see this war as something happening in a faraway land that has nothing to do with us. Or perhaps they have seen the news and are dismissing it, thinking it’s not an issue for them. Or maybe they’re consciously not thinking about it – they do say ignorance is bliss! Either way, they’re unaware of the distress being faced by the military community globally.
On Friday I was at a baby group with my little boy and heard no one mention the horrific events happening, apart from one mum: a fellow military spouse who understood the impact on our community. Spouses everywhere unite in that connection; pained by the news of a soldier killed in action, saddened by wounded personnel, and empathetic to those who have no choice but to fight.
My point here is, no matter which side you find yourself on, or wherever you are in the world, the military community is united in its own unique way. Those who serve are brothers in arms, and their families experience the same fears, worries and anxieties regardless of which armed force you’re tied to.
We don’t have to agree with the conflict or the reasons behind it to feel empathic towards those involved – or any other conflict for that matter. A soldier is a soldier and outside of the military they’re someone’s son, daughter, mother, father, or friend. Wherever you are, whatever your affiliation, you’re not alone. We share the anxiety, we share the fear, and we share the compassion.
Whether you choose to watch the news or hide away from it, do whatever keeps you mentally safe. This war has global implications and it’s OK to feel affected by it. Stay strong, breathe through it and reach out if you’re struggling. Know you’re not alone!