By J.G. Noll
It’s a pretty universally accepted fact that 2016 steamrolled all of us. From the death of Prince and natural disasters (unless you consider Prince’s death being a natural disaster, then I’m being redundant) to terror attacks and record high temperatures (including in the Arctic) to Zika and a national mood that reeks of paranoia and anger, it’s time to leave the smoldering wreckage of 2016 behind us and hope for better things in 2017.
Right? I mean, if there’s one thing about humans, it’s that we’re hopeful for better things. And as military spouses we know exactly how to stay hopeful and work towards better things in the face of obstacles and frustration. To make sure that 2017 is a better year, we’re not going to do five things:
1. We’re not going to tear each other down
Online bullying is so 2016. In 2017, we’re not going to enable each other to harass each other. We’re not going to spend time making fun of each other, posting nasty memes, or furthering stereotypes. It’s demeaning and beneath every single one of us.
2. We’re not going to forsake our LGBT+, female, brown, black, disabled, veteran, and non-Christian community members
Great strides have been made in the military community in the last few decades. 2017 is the year where that progress will be tested. The military looks like America does: diverse in every sense of the term. We can’t afford to squabble among ourselves and we can’t afford to see patriotic, sacrificing people– service members, spouses, families– discriminated against or harassed because of who they are, who they love, or how they worship. We will speak up when we see it happening and we will make each other feel welcome in our communities. We’re Americans. That’s what we do.
3. We’re not going to let our kids be victimized in DoDEA schools
Believe it or not, the protections of Title IX do not apply to military kids who are students in DoDEA schools. While public schools are required to provide schools free of sexual harassment and to respond swiftly if it does happen. And Title IX isn’t a new thing. These protections have been in place for public school students since 1972. Our military kids deserve to go to schools free of sexual harassment. According to SpouseBuzz, “The DoD is currently investigating this issue and it is on the radar of the Department of Justice. Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have expressed concern and support.” 2017 is the year that we call our elected representatives to ensure that all of our kids are protected.
4. We’re not going to ignore the mental health issues in our community
The stigma attached to mental health issues is real in our nation, and that stigma is magnified further in the military community when folks fear that getting help will negatively reflect on their (or their spouse’s) career.When we see someone struggling in our homes or in our community, we need to speak up and reach out. We need to be there for each other. It doesn’t matter if that person is struggling with combat-related PTSD or postpartum depression: We need to listen and we need to help when others don’t know what the way forward is.
5. We’re not going to stop kicking ass
2016 was historic for military spouse career awareness. July marked the first time in history that all 50 states eased requirements for licensure and career portability for military spouses. That’s a big deal… just ask a lawyer, nurse, or teacher who has spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours completing state requirements only to move (again) to a different duty station and state. Military spouse entrepreneurs were featured on TV, in magazines, online, and at conferences. We’ve seen an explosion of spouses working from home, getting into politics, writing books, and just generally getting stuff done. We’re going to take those gains and keep pushing the borders. There’s so much work left to be done.
2017 will be an awesome year, but only if we put in the elbow grease to make it that way. Here’s to fierce military spouses who just won’t stop.