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First Lady recognizes military spouses
Notes from an almost-military spouse
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Before President Barack Obama was inaugurated Jan. 20, First Lady Michelle Obama wrote a letter to military families.
 “All of us can learn a fundamental lesson from our military families,” she wrote. “You don’t need to wear a uniform to serve your country. We all have something to contribute to the life of this nation.”
Michelle got it right.
It’s refreshing to hear such strong official recognition coming from our nation’s highest-ranking female role model. As the president’s wife, Michelle must surely understand firsthand what it is to make sacrifices for your spouse’s career choice. Much like an active-duty service member, the president draws strength to perform his job well from his family. Without a strong support system, a soldier, presidential candidate or president will not be able to succeed.
In her letter, Michelle talked about how easy it is to forget that our freedom isn’t free, and how we must remember the previous generations who fought and died for our right to live in a free country.
“And if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that when our servicemen and women go to war, their families go with them,” she wrote.
 For military spouses, this message comes through loud and clear each and every day. We hear it whenever our spouse leaves, whether it’s for a short time for training, or on a longer deployment. We hear it too, when our friends and neighbors and their spouses are absent, leaving family members at home to face the challenge of continuing a normal life while taking on extra responsibilities. We hear it when our children, or children in our community, celebrate birthdays and milestones as a parent shares in the festivities via streaming video from halfway across the globe.
 “I saw how they take care of each other,” Michelle wrote. “Heard how they fill in whenever the system fails and discovered that the trials they faced always were matched by the hope they shared that better days are still ahead.”
This couldn’t be more true. To be a military spouse is truly to be a part of a network — a network that will support you and hold you up when you need it during hard times, to listen to your worries and concerns when no one else in your family or group of civilian friends understands where you’re coming from or why you’re so concerned. I can think of many times I would have felt utterly alone if it weren’t for my fellow military spouse friends, who were there to perk me over the phone or over coffee.
Michelle Obama recognized that even as she, her husband and the rest of the country celebrated the inauguration, many spouses would not have anyone to share special moments with.
“There still will be spouses struggling to juggle roles and responsibilities,” she wrote.  “There still will be children who mark the passing of a birthday without mommy and toddlers who know their father only by a grainy video stream from a far-flung corner of the globe.”
To hear all of these sacrifices recognized gives me hope that over the next four years, even if our deployed service men and women cannot all come home, at least someone at the top has heard the voices of military spouses and stands ready with open ears to listen.

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