Why “Dependapotamus” Needs to End


If you’re a military spouse, you’ve probably heard a few terms like Tag Chaser, WestPac Widow, OSMW (overly-sensitive military wife), and the infamous Dependapotamus. I know, I get it: drama is fun. Sometimes when us women get bored we like to sit around sipping margaritas (although I’m personally more of a mojito fan) gossiping about who’s cheating and who’s only in it for the bennies (the military benefits).

But ladies, these cruel terms and the bullying behind them need to END (along with that stupid gossipy drama crap).

While I haven’t personally been victimized, I’ve seen countless women being publicly shamed online for things like posting a picture of their new Army ACU purse, or even admitting that the military life isn’t easy. Why does a “Proud Air Force Wife” t-shirt make somebody a Dependa??

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of stumbling across Facebook and Twitter pages that are aimed at making fun of military wives.

Now don’t get me wrong—I get why they exist. I understand that there really are women who marry service members for the benefits (although I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what’s so great about Tricare), and I know there are some pretty cruddy milspouses who really do cheat on their husbands when they’re deployed.

But that doesn’t justify the shaming.

Is it cool if I take it one step further?

And it definitely doesn’t justify shaming spouses who do NOT cheat, who are NOT in it for the benefits, and who are NOT lazy bums that do nothing but leach off their husbands.

Ladies, this needs to end.

What’s even more wrong about the milspouse shaming is that 99% of the time, it’s coming from other military spouses. Yes, even those nasty Facebook and Twitter pages were created by none other than our sister MilSO’s.

But why?

Boredom, maybe? (Which would be ironic because apparently those spouses have jobs, since they’re criticizing the ones who don’t.) Is it out of insecurity?

Whatever the reason, it needs to stop. All it does is tear down other military spouses when instead we should be building each other up. In case you hadn’t heard, being married to a service member isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows all the time. As a community of military spouses, we should be supporting each other both online as well as in person.

You wouldn’t walk up to a random person and call them a “slutty stupid dependa” (quoted directly from Twitter), would you?

Then why the hell would you call someone that online??

It’s estimated that suicide rates among military spouses and families are significantly higher than the rates among civilians, although the DoD has only recently decided to fund research on this (the decision was made in 2012 and they collected data throughout 2013 and 2014, so I suspect the results will be reported soon).

Do you really want to be responsible for someone’s death?

Military life is hard enough as it is, and the last thing these spouses need is getting called ugly names for having a “Navy Wife” bumper sticker.

If you want to help stop the milspouse shaming, please share this post.  

If you’re a blogger, feel free to post about your own opinions and join our anti-shaming blog hop!

Here’s to a more positive military spouse community.

The Military Wife Life SignatureBrittney, The Military Wife Life

I’m a college student, military spouse and home-maker who loves writing, art, and all things do-it-yourself. I hate sticky fingers and yellow lights that are too short, but I love tea, the color green, and that fresh feeling you get after you’ve just brushed your teeth.  You can find me at The Military Wife Life.

20 Comments

  1. My husband and I met at Fort Devens, MA in February 1973. We had a lot of snow in January and February, but not as much as they are having now. I went into the military swearing I had to work with men, but I wasn’t planning on getting emotionally involved until I had served my 3 years. We got married June 1973 and this year will be 42 years. I haven’t heard the derogatory terms you mentioned, but we didn’t have the internet. There were women who gossiped over coffee or cocktails, but I wasn’t in that group, even after my husband retired as a SFC/E-7.
    We had several times while on active duty where we were apart. The first time in 1975-76 for 5 months so he could go to AIT for 60 promotion points, and we extended to stay at Field Station Augsburg an extra year. I used my European out ticket to go home for my sister’s graduation and visit friends. When we came back in March 1978, I lived with my mother=in=law and worked until we got housing in October. We were supposed to be there for 3 years, but you know the military, if the Army needs you elsewhere, you go and the wife handles everything. While I lived in Austin, Texas (my home state), I would write him every month to let him know the budget, bills, etc.. One of my co-workers said I didn’t have to tell him how I spent my money. I had to remind her that I was also paying bills with some of his money (I had my checking account and he had the joint account so I could go to the bank to add to his account or get some funds from him.) I also reminded her he needed to know how much it costs to live in the civilian world.
    After he retired, he went to college since his Army training wasn’t useful for a civilian job. Later in 2001, I went 250 miles from home to go to college and left him in Austin because there was a minimum 1 year wait for the VA. Again the civilians didn’t understand why we were apart but I feel it made our marriage stronger. Some of our friends ask how we seem to communicate so well. One thing was having pre-marital training with the chaplain. When we traveled from visiting his family in Ohio, we talked on the trip, talked about our bills and salary, planned our budget so we could see how much we could afford to rent an apartment. We also planned a simple wedding. When we saw the chaplain for our first appointment, he was surprised at how much we had done. We still needed to see him 2 more times so he could marry us. I know some people in the military who divorce within a few years. I feel the military helped us to be stronger so we could handle the problems we have faced in the last few years since retirement. I know some military wives who were jealous of our closeness and ability to communicate. When we were in Germany, there were a lot of wives of infantrymen, who said I was lucky my husband “allowed” me to drive. These men would go out in the field for a month and would not leave money at home or leave a minimum for them to buy a few diapers and formula. A lot of these young wives would make remarks about how the different branches men treated their wives.
    All we military wives can do is show people that we are not “blonde bunnies” who cannot think for ourselves. Each military family need to be positive, show the world just because we travel around the world and our husbands (or wives) use weapons and fight, not all of them will go ballistic or have PTSD.

  2. Through the years when we felt we were not communicating together, we would seek out a marriage counselor. Sometimes it would only take one or two sessions to set us up to talk and plan. When we married in 1973, there was basic cable, not the thousands we have now. Our first 18 months in Germany, we did not have AFN. Luckily, we both liked to read and liked the same music. Even when we got AFN June 1975, it was only one channel. Even now, we watch TV and he has a Kindle for games to improve his brain (he had a sub-frontal meningioma brain tumor that affects his short term memory) and to read. But we both can only do that for a so long. Reading books and talking don’t require batteries or electricity. We still love to travel and have gotten a RV to make it easier.
    I agree it is up to us (members of the military and their families to dispel the bad press of the one or two percent who make the news.

  3. Thank you for this…I am going to be sharing this in a group that I am a part of for military families. I am brand spanking new to the military life as my husband is still in AIT. Obviously I did NOT marry my husband for the military benefits as we have already been married prior to him joining the Army. He chose on his own to join and I supported him on his decision. Never have I looked at it with dollar signs in my eyes, but rather one who is proud of her husband for doing something he’s always wanted to try, but at the same time a little sad because I know it means he could possibly be gone away from our family for long periods of time.

    I now know firsthand what it’s like to be made fun of for doing something you thought was innocent. I know I’ve heard of military spouses trying to “wear their husband’s ranks” or whatever they call it. I guess it’s also bad to “wear their MOS?” Without thinking of what sort of idea it would send out I ordered what I thought was a cute t-shirt that bears the phrase “#MPWIFE” across the front. I did not think of it as anything but a piece of clothing and maybe something to show that I am proud of my husband. I posted it on Instagram and it automatically went to my FB. Even though my FB page is private, somehow the picture showed up as a public post and within an hour a Facebook page called “Dear Dependa” had shared it and not in a nice way. I immediately removed the picture from IG and FB and felt really ashamed like I had done something wrong.

    These people really do make you feel like you don’t mean anything. I browsed the page with disgust as they posted screenshots of pages referring to Military Spouse Appreciate Day/Week and calling them out like they are a joke…men and women were posting nasty stuff about military spouses. I normally don’t let anything bother me, especially on social media, but I just think of all of the other new military spouses who do not know anyone. Where we hear from others that this can be a big happy family, people like them make it feel like everyone is against any military wife/gf/fiance. It’s really very sad. 🙁

    1. Good morning Kristin,

      I am sorry you had to go through this. Such a bummer!

      Stand strong and be proud of your hubby. You have nothing to be ashamed of!

      Take care,
      Danya

  4. Congratulations Britteny, the military spouse that has never been targeted and made a complaint post about something that will NEVER change. You can now find your blog, and everyone calling YOU an OSMW on Facebook at The Dependapotamus AND Delirious Depends. Way to call attention upon yourself

    1. *Delirious Dependa
      BTW, please acquiant yourself with the definition of “dependa” and learn that even active duty, retired and yes, even veterans use the term. 🙂

  5. You are a “college student” and “home maker.” Basically you do nothing yourself and could easily be classified as a dependa. No wonder you are so quick to defend them. IMO anyone not getting off their butts and working when the obligations at home don’t demand them there are useless men and women. My prediction is just like many useless military spouses you won’t finish your degree but instead run out your husbands education benefits.

  6. Not every dependent is a dependa. If you sit around and do nothing with your life besides being a wife and mother, and just collect all your husbands benefits, while pulling HIS rank or expect salutes, or cut in front of people at the commisary because your husband is a SSgt, then you’re a dependa. So many wives think that they earn what their spouse had because they are a dependent. They are just a civilian. If you want to rock a acu purse or wear a Proud AF wife shirt, so be it. But NEVER try to claim you’re part of the military. Either you enlist or you don’t. Don’t expect discounts, don’t expect free food on Veteran’s Day, and don’t pull rank. Go make something of yourself rather than sitting at home collecting your spouse’s benefits.

  7. It’s surprising that someone is defending these women who do nothing except mooch off their S.O. who is risking their lives defending our country. I work with A LOT of military members and see all the Dependas and it makes me sick. These young boys sign up for the military, miss home, and get married RIGHT out of boot camp and their “wives” do NOTHING. They sit at home, watching Netflix or playing on Facebook. They don’t contribute and a year or 2 later, they get divorced. Now this isn’t all situations. My brother is military and he married a fellow service member. She works hard for what she has. My best friend is about to marry a Navy guy. She uprooted her life to be with him but she works and contributes to their household and doesn’t expect everything he has because she has experienced military life before, and maybe that is the difference. Those who have been in a military family or have served themselves know that if you really love someone, it’s about them. Not their rank. So hell yes rock that “Proud Army Wife” or “I love my Marine” T-shirt while you do what you do to contribute but don’t you dare try to act like you are your spouse! They get what they have because they are serving our country, not Neflix binging and playing on Pintrest.

  8. As long as there are women who are living up to the ‘dependapotamus’ moniker, there’s humor to be had in it. If you’re NOT the definition of a dependa, then why get butthurt over it? Not every military wife is a dependa but the percentage of those are, well they’re just going to perpetuate the meaning of it. I saw a number of women who fit the definition of it, when I was in the military, back in the 80’s and it looks like it’s worse now. And the internet and social media just made it more prevalent than ever.
    One of the more egregious attitudes of a dependa, is when she thinks she’s the same pay grade as her husband is, and tries to tell active military folks what they should and shouldn’t do. That always gets an instant, automatic F Off. This is amplified if this woman happens to be an ‘officer wife’.
    Until these military men exercise better choices for their spouses, you’re gonna have dependas.

    1. THIS. This this this this this. A military spouse, even a stay-at-home military spouse with kids, is not in itself deserving of the “dependapotamus” name. When people are using the term “correctly” they are not referring to all military spouses, but rather a specific breed of dependents who take full advantage of their spouse’s military service, often to inappropriate levels.

      Shopping at the commissary does not make you a dependa; cutting in front of others at the commissary because you happen to be the CO’s wife absolutely makes you a dependa. Staying at home to take care of the house does not make you a dependa; staying at home to sit on your ass while posting to Facebook about how being a military spouse is sooooooo difficult makes you a dependa. Worrying about your spouse while he or she is deployed does not make you a dependa; calling up the chain of command because your spouse is late for dinner/had a stressful day/isn’t making enough money is dependa behavior. And cheating on your deployed spouse or sleeping around or expecting salutes or pulling your AD spouse’s rank? Guess what, you’re a dependa.

      Yes, calling women out for something like a “Proud Army Wife” shirt is taking the “dependa” moniker beyond what its original intent was, and those people should be educated on the differences between acceptable and unacceptable milso behavior. Don’t be a dependa, and you don’t have anything to worry about. 🙂

  9. Can’t help but agree with those before me. If you consider a “homemaker” a job…get real! I have been AD for 13 years, for the last 5 years I’ve been raising three girls as a single father. And why you may ask…hmmmmm. well my “dependa” decided it would be fun to have my BF’s baby. So she split and left everything behind to include bills and our girls. Luckily for me I got the best part. Back to my point, as an active duty member. ..I’ve raised three girls, completed my bachelor’s degree, started my Masters, coached youth soccer, and wake up every day to kick ass! So please tell me how staying at home all day remotely qualifies you as something important? There is a reason people joke about you……because you ALL are a joke!
    (Drop the mic)

    1. Thank you Jonathan for your service! And congrats on all you have accomplished and will continue to accomplish, all while raising three girls who will no doubt kick ass in their own lives because they have such an amazing example to look up to. 🙂

  10. Back when I was active-duty Navy I would’ve never said anything derogatory about a dependent spouse and they still won’t because my mom and my stepmom were dependent wives and even though they didn’t have employment outside of the home at that time they worked their butts off taking care of our house, and us kids, making sure my dad’s uniforms were ironed and ready to go, cooking, cleaning, and all that other stuff that needs to be done to run a family. Now that I am out of the military and also no longer working for government contractors I am a never at home Homeschool parent and to say that I don’t do anything all day any day would be ludicrous to say the least. In my opinion this whole “dependapotomus” derogatory term is this highly disrespectful to the family members of military service men and women.

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