Most days, I’m on fire. I love my Marine, love living on base, love this life. I’ve spent years supporting military families by volunteering in my husband’s unit, through chaotic deployments and workups, supporting wounded warrior charities, and helping non-profit organizations in the local community.

When the demands of the Corps forced my hand and I could no longer find viable work in my field, I dug in. I volunteered and gave back to those around me. I’ve financially sacrificed alongside dedicating thousands of volunteer hours to make our community better. I don’t do it for the kudos, I do it because I love this life and it makes me feel better to know that I’ve made a difference.

But no matter how much I’ve accomplished or what I’ve done, I have those days where I’m reminded that I don’t matter in the big scheme of things when I talk to other veterans (and sometimes civilians). That I’ll always be *just* a military spouse.

… that I’m just something for my husband to take as a date to the ball, or watch his kids when he’s at work, that my value lies in being the constant, because my husband is flat out told by other veterans to never divorce me because it ‘costs too much money’ — never mind that my husband might actually still love me and that (shocker!) we’re still happy.

I’m reminded when we attend a Marine Corps ball with other veterans, when people talk past me constantly throughout the night to talk to my husband… where I’m not asked one single question, or when I’ve tried to participate in the conversation, that it doesn’t matter because I’m just a ‘silly wife’.

I don’t begrudge our veterans. I think they are bad-asses too. I don’t think that I deserve a ribbon or medal for the years I’ve spent supporting this life, but sometimes just a smile and be recognized as a human being is nice too.

It makes me stop and consider all the life choices I’ve made these last 15 years. Maybe I should have been a bit more selfish. Maybe I should have lived in the gym and not given a crap about supporting others, maybe I should have had a cleaner house, or made better meals… because what’s the point?  At the end of the day, that’s what I’m being judged on.

And I’ve failed. Because some days that’s all people see. How skinny I am. Or how good my leftovers look or smell in the work microwave.

But then I remind myself that I need a shift in perspective. I step outside and seek the awesome out. I find and connect with my military spouse sisters and count my blessings that I have these amazing women in my life.

Because that’s where it is — the connection that’s rekindled with others, the understanding without explaining. I understand it’s the same connection those veterans seek out when talking to my husband.

So here’s to you, military spouses, for all you do.  Thank you for your unwavering support. Thank you for making a difference. And don’t forget, you look beautiful tonight.