By Mitch Forbes – U.S. Army veteran, Syracuse University student veteran, and IVMF Student Support Intern – Entrepreneurship
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a time to honor the sacrifices and contributions that military spouses make in support of the military community. Often referred to as “silent heroes” or backbones of the military, these husbands and wives stay at home to tend to families through field training exercises, long deployments, and resets. Often moving from duty station to duty station, spouses are the glue holding the family together while their service members continue to serve their country. Military spouses fill a number of roles in the fast-paced life style of the military family.
One of those roles is that of caregiver. I was witness to many extraordinary military spouses as caregivers in my time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. My military career as an infantryman ended on April 28, 2014. Before she ever became my spouse or even my fiancé, Maggie was my caregiver (I intended on proposing when I got home from Afghanistan).
After receiving a phone call from my mother, Maggie quit her job as a teacher. She packed up my old beat up Jeep, and drove to Washington, D.C. to assist me. She was one of the first familiar faces at my side and she stayed there through my long road to recovery. Maggie was there for me through every ache, pain, and nightmare. She slept on a hospital foldout chair every night for over two months. She kept my friends and family updated through dozens of surgical procedures. She pushed my wheelchair though the swampy heat of Bethesda, Maryland and to countless appointments from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. She challenged me during physical therapy sessions and cheered me on when I took my first steps (to be fair, so did Gary Sinise).
Only standing at five feet tall, she even helped me get in and out of my wheelchair, bathe, dress, and eat. She did all of this with a smile on her face and nothing but a positive attitude. She never asked for anything in return. I saw multiple examples of this same type of devotion to wounded service members from several spouses at Walter Reed.
To me, Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a day to honor the untold sacrifices that these spouses make. They did not sign up for the military, but they are willing and able to serve their country as a support system for their soldier, airmen, sailor, or marine. One of the Army values is selfless service. Every day military spouses personify this value. Spouses put others’ interest before their own “without thought of recognition or gain.” Without my wife’s dedication and love, I would not be the same person today.