By: Amy J. Fetzer, Dependent wife

"So, you're a military wife?" Sounds rather degrading coming from a civilian who has
no concept of military life. I, for one, have a great concept. My father was
a Marine for 31 years and I married a Marine. When I said, "I do," 13 years ago, I knew
what I was getting into. Most people don't.

People don't realize that we the spouses are just as involved. We make more
sacrifices in 20 years than most people do in a lifetime.

We let go of friendships we've formed over the 3 year tour, turn around and start new
ones at our next station. We wring our hands when they don't come home some evening,
knowing they might be on spontaneous maneuvers, but no one will tell us for sure. So
we sit and wait, gripping with the fear that when the door opens we'll see a captain
standing there in his dress blues, his cover in his hand and regret in his eyes from a
grateful nation. It wasn't "playing Marine" this time. It was for real.

From Desert Shield to Desert Storm, the nation needed the Corps and it was there--
trained, ready and willing to give the ultimate sacrifice. The world witnessed the support
that has always been there, in us, the other half of the Corps.

I heard a civilian woman say to my mother, "Oh, how fortunate are military families; free
housing, medical and dental care, the commissary..." My mother replied with, "Nothing
is free. It's compensation."
It's compensation when they take the husband, the father, and more often now, the mother and
wife, for a year at a time to serve in some remote location that's strategic and secret and
has no name. Yet, it's little compensation when you pass by a house after a terrorist attack
on the Marine barracks--- and see a black wreath hanging from the door. I knew inside there
was a widow with children. And I knew that widow could have been me.
The Marine wife is a special breed. A strong women. I owe a lot of my strength to my mother.
I saw her cope with hardships that would have made any man fold.

What would you do if you found yourself stranded in a New Jersey airport in 90-degree
weather with 3 children under the age of five, dressed for your destination in Iceland
with no passports, no lodging, no luggage, and no help? I'm proud to say she overcame and
we met my father in
Iceland, a little ragged---but together.

Mom showed me to look for things that most people don't see: the young Marine away from
home for the first time during the holidays, missing those homecooked meals in a family
surrounding, or the young expectant mother that's frightened, wishing her Mom was close to
ask questions she believes are silly.

We take care of our own, and hope that when our loved ones are in a similar situation,
someone will reciprocate. Giving thanks, such a small effort.
A point of advice to the young Marine wives: seek the support of other Marine wives,
enlisted or officer. Experience is the best teacher. We were in your shoes once before
and know what you are feeling. Ask. They know the tricks to a smoother moving day, quarter
inspection, the knowledge of medical facilities, the schools and definitely the best shops.
And if they don't know the answer, you can be certain they'll know where to find it.
If I sound as if I'm glorifying the Marine wife, perhaps I am. We're just as good at
what we do as our spouses are. We are not simply wives and husbands and children. We
are a part of the Marine team.

I get a lump in my throat when I hear the Marine Corps Hymn or the Star Spangled Banner.
My shoulders pull back and my chin lifts a little higher when I see my husband in his uniform
or when someone asks me what he does for a living and I say with great pride,
he's a United States Marine.
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