Lousy title, I know--but it more or less sums up what I have to say.
Though my husband was in the Seabees for 21 years and proud of his duty served all over the world, Spain, Cuba, Greenland, Alaska, and three tours in Vietnam during the war, he never goes to Veteran's Days Parades--nor does he talk much about his service except to other vets. No, he doesn't belong to the VFW or other veteran's organizations and hang out. He does belong to the Fleet Reserve but again, goes to no meetings.
Being a wife of a Seabee was difficult at times--mainly when he was gone, and downright scary when he was in Vietnam. By the time his 21 years was up, we had five kids and guess who did most of the raising?
During the war, we lived near enough to the Pt. Hueneme Seabee base to do our shopping on base and use the hospital facilities--great savings for families who hardly made any money at all. Usually I had some kind of job to help out, either full or part-time, and divided whatever pay I got with the babysitter.
The pay then was so poor that we could have received welfare, though we never did. I bet there are places today where service families qualify for welfare.
And of course, the country wasn't nice to the men when they came home from Vietnam. (Thank goodness, that's changed.) No one ever thanked my husband back then--more apt to spit on him--now if he happens to be wearing his Seabee hat, strangers thank him for his service.
It was tough being a service wife--I had to make all the decisions when hubby was gone, then when he came home, he expected to be the boss. Being me, I told him once he might be the Chief in the Seabees, but I was the Admiral at home. Helped a bit.
All the crises happened while he was gone--of course. He wanted to stay in for thirty years, but by that time we had a houseful of teenagers and I said, "Nope, I'm not doing this alone anymore."
In his retirement, things have gotten better. We no longer live near a base so we don't go shopping or to the doctors there. However, we have great medical through hubby's retirement and can go to the doctor of our choice. Something the government finally did right.
I have a granddaughter who is married to a Sergeant in the Army, getting ready to go to Iraq. She has two little kids. She came home to be near her mom in order to have some support. I feel sorry for her. The separation is not good for marriages or for kids.
Make an old vet feel good--thank him or her for his service and while you're at it, thank his or her spouse.