Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dependa-what?!?

In some circles, being a "military dependant" is a very derogatory label.  There are accusations of laziness, and classlessness, and abuse, and any manner of unseemly behavior.  While there may be instances (as in any circle) where there is a hint of truth to the accusation, I have not found these stereotyping labels to fit any of the military families I know.

It even occurs to me that many civilian families (including those to whom we are related) may not understand our lives.  Allow me to educate....

From the oh-so-reliable Wiki:
"Military dependents are the spouse(s), children, and possibly other familial relationship categories of a sponsoring military member for purposes of pay as well as special benefits, privileges and rights.[1] This generic category is enumerated in great detail for U.S. military members."

Very self-explanatory, no?  Heh.  Let's try a different route....

I am a military dependant.  

My husband is in the United States Navy.  

That means he goes to work every day wearing the uniform of a United States Sailor.  No, not the funky white bell-bottoms with the "sailor collar" and "dixie cup" cover.  (Thank God.  Those uniforms make MOST people look like the Pillsbury Doughboy. And they're a bear to keep looking nice.  Hello...they're WHITE.)  Usually, he wears what is affectionately called the "blueberrys"....which incidentally are going away in the next few years.  

Dependant means that (like MOST working families), our health insurance falls under his job...his employer provides health insurance for our family as part of the incentive plan.  

Dependant means that we "get to" move every few years.  Whether we really want to, or not...well, frankly, we COULD decide we were done with moving and stay...but that would mean added expense that we cannot afford.  Oh, and we RARELY get to move where we want.  Usually, the choice goes to the "needs of the Navy"...which often falls 5 or 15 slots below our first, second, or third choices.  

Dependent means that WHEN (not IF) he is deployed, I get to be chief-cook-and-bottle-washer, mom, dad, chauffeur, pay the bills, and take care of everything (did I ever tell you about the time I bought a house in his name?...I also bought a car during that deployment).  

At one point in our experience, Dependent meant that I couldn't afford TO WORK, because daycare would cost more money than I could make...even with my college education and work experience.  

Dependent means that if I want to do any further education, work, or spend time with friends, it ALWAYS come after his work on the priority list.  Why?  Because the Navy owns him.  

Dependent means that somewhere around 1% of the US population understands our lifestyle.  

Dependent means that we get a non-blood-related family through other "dependents", who are available when deployments and trainings and detachments happen, to help with inevitable list of things that go wrong as soon as he walks out the door or gets on the plane.  

Dependent is one of those terms that has a lot of implications to a lot of people, and most of them are wrong.  While Dependents have the label because they love a family member who is in the military, they are usually the LEAST dependent people I have ever met...independence defines the lifestyle.  

To all of my VERY independent Dependa-friends....thank you for your input over the last 17 years!!  You're AMAZING, and will be one of the things I miss most when we reach the end of this journey....

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