They are the men and women who stand silently behind our soldiers, sacrificing daily for our freedom and security. From raising children on their own to fearing for their spouses’ safety, being married to a member of the Armed Forces is full of challenges. However, as every military spouse will tell you, it is also full of rewards. Serving our country is an honor, and the community of military families supports each other like none other.
FOX News is honoring four military wives who serve our country in their own way every day and have made it their mission to nurture the military community.
Babette Maxwell is the editor and co-founder of Military Spouse magazine. From forums to features, the magazine has created a community for those spouses of the members of our Armed Forces.
FOX Fan: What does it mean to you to be the spouse of someone in the military?
Babette Maxwell: Wow. That’s a tough question. I grew up as the daughter of an Army soldier. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, and three of my four great-grandfathers served in the military as well. I don’t really know any other way of life at all. I am very proud of my husband’s service to the military. To be more direct, being a military spouse means I’m going to spend a lot of time alone, raising my three boys without their father. It means I’m likely to worry about my husband being safe. It means I will be scared and worry about the future of our nation because of the implications to the military. When I read about troops being sent to Afghanistan, I am concerned for all of their families left behind, and I worry about what it could mean for mine. But, being a military spouse also means I get to see the world, have an instant family wherever I move and raise my children to understand their military background. It means that when I hear our National Anthem, the tears in my eyes are understanding for the country’s lost soldiers and the constant ache their families will feel forever because the loss could have been mine.
FF: How long has your husband served and in what capacity?
BM: He has been an active duty Navy pilot for 14 years. He currently flies F-18s in New Orleans, Louisiana.
FF: What is a military spouse’s biggest challenge?
BM: The biggest challenge for me personally is battling fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the future. It is hard to not want to blame the military and our government when you see a military so worn down. I know the struggles spouses of the military face, because I read and write about it every day. I fear for the future of an already exhausted military and what the long-term support for us is going to look like. Families in the military are just struggling to stay together, and that is compounded when deployments are not only longer but more frequent. So far, there have been no real outlines as to what support mechanisms are going to be put in place for the families at home. What is the greatest reward? Knowing that despite the war climate, my husband serves a cause bigger than any one person. I know deep down that what our military does -- serve our nation faithfully -- is right.
FF: What unique issues present themselves in a military marriage?
BM: I think all marriages face their own inherent challenges. What is probably most unique to military marriage is coping with extended separations. It remains increasingly more difficult to keep a marriage strong when you are separated for months or years at a time. How do I handle them? As best I can. There is no secret formula for everyone. Each couple does what they can, when they can, to cope and to overcome challenges each day. There is just no one, long-term solution that will make every marriage a success. We have to trust and support one another. I think in my case, the military has forced my independent nature to excel because I am compelled to handle life as a single mother most of the time and to handle decision making alone. And, my husband has found that strength in me more attractive as time goes on.
FF: What do you love or respect most about your spouse?
BM: That’s a very long list! Love and respect are so totally different. What do I love most about my husband? First, I love that he makes me laugh, and I love that he loves me so unconditionally. David is one of the last of God’s great men. He’s guided by a very strong sense of right and wrong, and he is an amazing father. He supports me in everything I do, and always has, no matter how hair-brained it was. I respect him because he always does what is right, because it is right, and not because it is popular. I admire and respect his ability to stick to his guns - always.
FF: Why did you start Military Spouse magazine?
BM: The magazine was started to provide support and information for military spouses regardless of rank and service affiliation. It has grown into the leading resource for military spouses and is distributed worldwide. Military Spouse magazine and milspouse.com serves as a beacon for all military spouses to help us cope with the difficulties of our lives by ensuring that we all understand that we are not going through this alone. It unifies the 1.7 million military families into one voice to make sure our story is told. In addition, there has been a dramatic increase in promises of support from high ranking government officials and celebrities who are gaining an increased awareness of what military families endure on behalf of serving our country.
FF: What does it mean to be part of the military community? Why is it important to you to reach out to and work within this community?
BM: It is important to me because I think we (military spouses) are finally having our story told. I have a responsibility to make sure that that story gets told accurately and with the utmost care.
FF: What is one thing would you like other Americans to know about those serving in our Armed Forces and their families?
BM: Our husbands serve because they choose to. I wish there were some way to make people understand that when our spouses sign on the dotted line, we serve our Commander-in-Chief. We don’t get a choice on which wars we want to participate in. We fight because we are told to. There is a difference between supporting the war and supporting the military.
FF: What does being an American mean to you?
BM: It means I am free to choose. It means allegiance.