She is trivialized. She is marginalized. She is constantly taken for granted and parodied on television. And she is recognized only when in her darkest hour, she is handed the folded flag that once draped her husband's coffin.
Soldiers sacrifice things everyday. They miss family gatherings, birthdays, and the important first steps of their children while they live in tents with one ear open for the next rocket attack. Unit commanders do not schedule field training exercises to accommodate school Christmas Pageants, and deployments are not delayed to allow soldiers to witness the birth of a child.
While I don't ever intend to diminish the sacrifice of the soldier, I do think it is important that we recognize - especially on Veteran's Day - the sacrifice of the soldier's wife and family.
After all, it is the soldier's wife who holds the family together when he can't be there. She is a single mother who isn't truly single, a dependent who has no choice but to be entirely independent. She alone makes sure the kids get to school and church, takes them to the park, cooks them dinner. She alone bears the burden of explaining to them, sometimes daily, why Daddy has to be away for such a long time. Her heart breaks when he returns and the children are afraid of their own father. And just about every day, there is that thought lurking in the back of her mind that the next time the doorbell rings she will open it to her husband's commanding officer.
She truly "leaves her family and cleaves to her husband," following him to duty station after duty station. Each time, she leaves friends, family, and a job of her own. Each time, she has to box up everything she owns and decide what is important enough to keep. Often, she goes through all or most of a pregnancy and even the birth of a child alone and in an unfamiliar place. She may have friends and a good doctor, but the one person she cannot have by her side is the only person who would make the experience complete.
Don't just thank a soldier this Veteran's Day. Thank his wife. Thank her husband. Thank their children and their parents. Because every day, they sacrifice something for your freedom as well.