The American military wife: History in the making

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFPN) -- Since the birth of our nation, women have made tremendous sacrifices in support of our country. This is especially true of the American military wife.

As any military wife will tell you, being "married to the military" under the best circumstances requires patience, understanding and flexibility. With the never-ending rotation of deployments, sacrifices are the expected norm for this special sector of American women. It's not until we talk with women outside the military community that we realize just how well and how much we have adapted.

Few of our friends back home really understand that everything is good on the home front when we tell them our husbands are gone, and we don't know where they are, when we will talk with them again or what they are doing while they are away. Few understand that despite the difficulties this brings -- an understatement to say the very least -- we are proud of our husbands and happy they are able to do what they have trained so hard for, and as they say, "fight the fight."

Few of our contemporaries understand, but military wives of the past do. In every generation, women have made the sacrifices we make today for the sake of our country.

Abigail Adams wrote of the loneliness she felt in sending not only her husband, but also her 10-year-old son overseas when her husband was asked to serve as a diplomat for our fledgling country. It would take several months before she would even hear that they survived the trip over, and many of her letters over the years were lost along the way, carried on ships captured by pirates.

Times have changed, and so too, have our abilities to stay in touch with our loved ones. In so many ways, we have come a long way -- from the v-mail of World War II to e-mail of today.

Some military wives from previous generations would even say we have it easier than they did, but more communication and shorter but more often trips do not necessarily make life easier. Being able to hear and talk about difficulties at home can be more frustrating for both husband and wife, and ongoing rotations translate into a change in the family structure during, and after, each and every deployment.

Some might say we have it easier than our predecessors, but ultimately the real sacrifice is still the same, and like Mrs. Adams wrote, it is our "dearest friend" who we miss the most.

It's up to each one of us to determine how we will write this chapter in the history of the American military wife.

The women of the Vietnam era were able to stand firm on the home front, despite being at the center of a country so divided. Will we rise to the challenges that lie before our generation and show the world that we, like our predecessors, are true to our word and to our country?

When times get tough, we can remember we are a part of a great tradition of women who, through personal sacrifice and in support of our country, have made a significant impact on American history.

(Editor's note: Mrs. Bauernfeind is married to Lt. Col. Tony Bauernfeind, the 15th Special Operations Squadron commander)