"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Let's Talk About Rank

Alright ladies and gents (yep, there are a few on here), I need your help. Let's talk about rank.

Yeah, that's right. I said the R-word. How do you feel about spouses and rank? Both among the spouses (wearing the rank, respecting the rank, etc) and spouses addressing soldiers. I want to hear your honest feelings about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING about rank. Remember to BE KIND and PATIENT with each other. No negativity towards one another here but I want to hear your experiences, your opinions. Are you automatically turned off by a spouse with a husband of a certain rank because you've had a bad experience? Do you turn  to senior spouses for guidance? What are the positives? What are the negatives? What is hard to see past? What are your prejudgments? Let's be honest and open and real.

I had a convo about this a bit with our FRG's POC's and it was a VERY enlightening and interesting and civil discussion. I was truly amazed that we all sat and laughed and saw each other's view. I think we started to learn from each other.

Before it became more obvious in my writing, I cannot tell you how many people emailed asking C's rank. If that was any of you, you may have noticed I answered every single one of your questions EXCEPT that. Rank is touchy. Rank is something that can put up walls. It can make people form opinions before they get to know a person - it can prevent a person from getting to know a person.

Discussing rank is tricky. There are so many sides to it. So many different views.

I have been trying to write about this for sometime for the Homefront United Network. I see it as a challenge to "get this right" but, oh my, I don't know where to begin. So I am turning to you, what are your feelings? How do you see it?

Don't want people to know who you are when you respond? Respond ANONYMOUSLY this time around. If that makes you more comfortable, go for it. But I am challenging each of you to really take a few moments and think about it, be honest about it, listen to each other. I want everyone to get into this discussion but I don't want it to blow up and become a complain session.

Let me say that I WILL delete any comment that speaks ill towards another or degrades what someone else has said. You all know I don't delete comments even if they upset me personally (ahem ... that lil promises incident awhile back) but I won't hesitate if this becomes something it shouldn't. You know this is no place for that. I know some of you are shaking your heads, thinking I'm nuts for this. You are probably right. But I believe we can hear each other. I believe we can learn from one another. I believe each of us, married to service-members of ALL ranks, has something to bring to this.

Let's learn from each other.

Here's an example of something that came up in the discussion I had with our new POC's. One said, "All the FRG meetings are just for the officer spouses. They are the only ones who come." They laughed when I said that officer spouses will always be at events because they are always "highly-encouraged" to attend. Anyone know what "highly-encouraged" in the army means? ; )

It means you attend.

Remember to be kind! LISTEN to one another! (Oh, PLEASE don't let this blow up in my face!)

Ready, Set, GO!


  1. I am an LT's wife. I became very close to a spouse of a junior-enlisted soldier within the unit. Our senior spouse told me one day that I didn't "have to be friends with her" in a way that made me incredibly uncomfortable and was clearly encouraging me to end the relationship. I get that there can be conflict when the soldiers in both of our lives work together but it just doesn't make sense sometimes. I didn't end the relationship but she never understood it. Is this what everyone is like? I know I am rather new to all this but seriously? Why "couldn't" I be friends with her as far as our senior spouse was concerned?

  2. My best friend's husband is enlisted and my husband is an officer. We get along with them like peanut butter and jelly. But other officers' families seem more distant. It might be my husband's career field. The chaplaincy is intensely competitive and in my experience so far there's not a lot of camaraderie.

  3. The only time I have encountered a problem was actually with a wife. She was in charge of the FRG, but since nobody would show up her husband dealt with it. I went one time. I was a newlywed and at the time my husband was lower enlisted. The guy was very nice and didn't act like rank was a problem at all, but his wife was another story. She was so incredibly rude to me, but nice to the higher ranking wives. It got to the point that my husband had to excuse himself a couple times to not get on to her and defend me. I sat quiet the rest of the night and it completely ruined the FRG for me. That's really the only encounter with rank I have ever had a problem with. My husband is in a very specific job, so unless there is a problem the men don't really focus on rank at all since there are so few of them.

  4. I think what I have encountered most is that we are all women with men in uniform and alot of the things that effect me as an enlisted wife effect the officer's wives too. I have never had a real specific issue with any one rank. I think sometimes there are wives who "wear their husband's rank" and that can be an issue. I have had experiences with wives who feel because their husband is an officer it makes them better then enlisted wives. Some officer's wives are more snobbish. On the other hand, some officer's wives are the sweetest most down to earth people you will ever meet. I understand the need for rank in the military but sometimes looking at a person like a person not a rank is important too!

    1. I totally agree with you on everything except one thing. The snobbiness can also be found in the enlisted side of things too.

      My other thought is that some can get in such a "military is life" thought process that when they find someone who prefers to stay a bit on the edge it is almost like they HAVE to force their way on us. There is room for everyone. :)

  5. I honestly just went through your past posts because I am sure I mentioned my hubby's rank in a comment before! Oops :P
    Here it's not such a big deal, the rank thing. The old rules about who you can associate with are gone. Wives who tried to pull any rank ever would be strongly reprimanded. Rank is our husband's thing.
    Some of my best military spouses friends have been high-ranking officer's wives, even when I have been a Trooper's(Private's) wife.
    Now years down the road and hubby is what we call a Senior NCO (basically a higher ranking non-officer) I generally introduce myself as Kim without a last name when working in family support. When I am asked who my husband is, especially when asked by younger couples, I usually use his first name only. Cause Lord knows they have no idea what each other's first names are! I don't want to give anyone the impression they have to be something they are not because of my husband's rank. I'm not part of their Chain of Command, whether he is or not.
    If it's helpful in a conversation, I have no problem telling someone my husbands rank. Sometimes younger wives want to know simply to hear about experiences. Sometimes it comes up when I mention dinners that were for NCO's only.
    Officers wives within DH's unit see each other more. There are mixed functions that Officers wives attend from the moment they are together where as there are no such formal required get togethers for enlisted members until they are Sgt's and up. This makes it harder to reach out to those younger wives as they have not had the same opportunity to meet others. That's a bigger challenge as they then tend to view the officers wives as 'clique' just because those ladies know each other better.
    We have a lot to learn up here about family support, but honestly besides as few bad-apples (like there are everywhere in any line of work) who pull their husbands importance as their own, this isn't a huge struggle.
    I swear I always write a novel on your posts, so I'll stop now. I love reading all the work you do for your family support, hope you figure all this out :)

  6. Looking forward to reading the responses on this one. I have a friend who is married to a 2LT. Before he commissioned, he served as lower enlisted for 4-5 years. So you think this would enable her to see both sides of this coin right? Wrong. Anytime I bring up socializing with people she doesn't know, she immediately questions whether they're enlisted or not. And if I tell her they are (and they usually are since I am in the only officer spouse in our entire company), she looks disgusted and tells me how we're "not supposed to do that." I just can't believe her! I have many enlisted wife friends as well as a few officer wife friends and she is the ONLY one who tries making a big deal out of it.

    There isn't some kind of rule as far as socializing with enlisted, is there? I thought that was all a thing of the past. The way she constantly brings that up makes me think that I am missing something here...

  7. I have recently had one of those conversations you mentioned, where I sat back with a group of fellow spouses of different ranks and rates and compared notes and laughed together and embraced the fact that we have far more in common than the differences among us. In the Navy, officers (and their families) are often "Volun-TOLD" to go to events, too!

    In terms of meeting other spouses, I've encountered both ends of the spectrum. My husband's an officer, my best friend's husband is not--but her and I have still supported each other through the heartbreak of deployments and the joy of planning our last ship's homecoming together. We have laughed and cried together hundreds of times during the deployments our families went through together, and those that we have been through separately on opposite coasts.

    I think that every FRG is different--the first one I was part of told all officers’ wives to sit down in the back and shut up because "I was not their boss, even if my husband was their husband's boss." I've never worn his rank, I take pride in my own accomplishments and support him in his as well... so I don't feel the need to tell overyone his title when I meet other spouses. Needless to say there was no "support" in that family support group, but I volunteered and did anything I could to help them help the service members on the ship. In the FRG I'm part of now, it's predominantly enlisted sailors’ spouses that attend but I was offered the opportunity to be part of a very diverse board---made up of spouses of those of many rates and ranks. We had our first board meeting to get on the same page, and it was amazing! We all laughed together for hours, telling stories about what we don't want this FRG to be and realized we all have a common goal, to give and receive support with others... we all have far too much in common to dislike each other. If spouses cannot be there for other spouses when their service member is deployed and they are miles away from friends and family, who can?

  8. My husband is lower enlisted but I tend to have more in common with officer's wives. It hasn't been a problem for the most part until one woman told me we could hang out, but couldn't be friends and no one with a higher ranking husband was really my friend either. Just being nice to their soldier's wives. It crushed me. I pretend it didn't and that I understood, but it really hurt.

    1. I wouldn't take it to heart---what she said makes her shallow and may apply to her being a fake person, but that doesn't mean that other people (spouses, etc) that you meet with common interests aren't really your friend. I would just enjoy the friendships of those people who make you happy and not give what she said a second thought. I've made great friends whose servicemembers were of all rates and ranks and it was never once because I felt obligated (in either direction) but rather that I wanted to meet people I enjoy being around.

  9. I grew up an officer's child. One day, my neighbor saw my dad coming home in his flight suit (lived off base). He came right up and said, "Man, I didn't know you were an officer!"...we were taught as children that rank didn't mean a darn thing once you stepped foot off base and took off the uniform. It meant NOTHING if you weren't the service person putting on the uniform. Then, when we lived on base, we still crossed the "lines" and played where ever we wanted to play. Shoot, the enlisted side has better playgrounds ;-)

    Then, I married an enlisted man. I learned hard and fast that if I went somewhere as Airman D's wife, I got treated far differently than Maj. C's daughter (who happened to be the same person)! I was flabbergasted.

    Hubby eventually got out, went back to school, and became a doctor. He then went into the Army. We often skirt the issue when asked what he does/is in the Army. I never volunteer rank unless specifically asked. Would you believe there is reverse discrimination? People will hang out and laugh and have fun/relax...then they hear who/what your husband is/does and they get all tense. Seriously people! He is the same goof ball now as he was as an Airman. I promise! I am so proud of what my man has accomplished, but afraid to tell people for fear of their judgement!

    Next July, he becomes the OIC of his department. I know I will be expected (volun-told) to "step-up" and be more of a "command wife" by others (not hubby himself)...and honestly, I am praying a lot about that. I want to be a good support to him, a good support to his troops, and a good "Army wife"....but I don't really know how I am to do that. I think I need lessons. One Command Sgt. Major's wife here is AWESOME. I asked her to give me lessons (jokingly) ;-) She is like them mom of all the troops under her hubby. Everyone respects her.

  10. It's all very interesting, this rank thing. But I'm wondering, do you ever think that maybe it's got nothing to do with rank, but maybe just human nature to not get on with everyone you meet? I don't know, maybe I'm just naive!! I've never really encountered it as an issue. I've never been asked by other wives who my husband was or what rank he was, and I've certainly never thought of it as an issue. For what it's worth, I am a soldier's daughter, have been both a soldier and an officer myself, and am married to an officer. Most of my best and dearest friends aren't military. Maybe that's the secret!!!

  11. There was a spouse in my husband's old unit who started a really nasty rumor about me to everyone so when it was time for a FRG meeting, I'd get all the glares and rude comments etc. It finally ended at one meeting when I couldn't take it anymore and walked to the front of the room and told everyone in there the truth. The person that started the rumor was the FRG leader and the XO's wife. Personally to me rank doesn't matter unless of course I'm greeting the soldier at work. Once you come to my house we're all equal and I will always show respect to those who show me respect :). After all, we wear our soldier's ring, not his rank :)

  12. I have never had any issue with wives pulling rank. I read about people having problems with this but in 9 years, in all the years that my husband has been in (enlisted), I have never ran into these rude wives. Guess I am lucky.

  13. I have had the opposite problem. Once my husband made NCO, the lower enlisted wives started being very rude to me - especially the ones whose husbands reported to mine. There are rules against fraternization still - while they in no way apply to spouses, they do effect how military families function in their free time. I have turned down family invitations to lower ranks' events because going would mean leaving hubby/daddy behind. We can't afford to jepordize a spouse's career/income over personal politics. I wish spouses were educated about rank expectations so they wouldn't take these things personally and lash out. Sometimes we want to spend Saturdays as a family! I've been very gentle about explaining this dilemma but I'm still up at 2 AM because spouses have misunderstood my actions as pulling rank, and been very hurtful.


I LOVE comments! Thanks for sharing : )