Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Response to Where is my Army wife pay?

This morning I was looking for new websites that cater to military spouses. I typed Army spouse into Google and the number one hit was for a Ms. Vicki letter called, Where is my Army wife pay?. This isn't the first time I've read the letter as it made the viral rounds several months ago, but this is the first time I've responded to it.

I read some of the comments and previously talked to some spouses and the overall consensus was that surely this was a joke. This woman can't possibly be serious, can she? Did you click on the link? No? Here's her question in full -

Dear Ms. Vicki,
My husband graduated from West Point two years ago, and I am basically living below an acceptable standard. I was never raised like this. My poor grandmother has been sending me money for the past year just so I can have the things I am accustomed to.
Ms. Vicki, I was told that Army wives are paid a monthly stipend just for being a wife at a minimum of $800. The amount is supposed to increase based on rank. Mine should at least be $1,000. Could you please let me know who to talk to so I can discuss this issue? I have not seen any of this money, and it’s been two years now.
I’m used to nice expensive things, and my husband promised my father that he would take care of me just like he did when I was living at home. I’m so jealous of my little sisters because they are still living at home with my parents.
When I go home to visit, the first thing my mother does is take me to the hairdresser because I’m a mess and I can’t afford to get it done. I feel so sad and angry every day.
I’m mad at my husband for choosing to be in the Army, and I’m mad that I am living in such an awful place. I don’t think this will get better for me.
I’m so homesick, and the other wives act like this is the best life they have ever had. They are not like me. We are not the same, so I don’t have any friends. Everyone keeps pushing the Family Readiness Group -- the FRG this and the FRG that, but the women are like Stepford Wives who live, eat and breathe the Army. They are ridiculous!
I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma in education, but I can’t get a teaching job because Texas makes it so hard for someone like me to get certified.
I just don’t know what to do anymore, and my husband is stressing out because he knows I’m not happy because he doesn’t make enough money. I’m trying to understand how to adapt to this situation, but I don’t think I can because I can’t live like this.
My parents spent thousands of dollars for my wedding, and I feel like they did everything for nothing.
Missing Oklahoma

Crazy, right? So is this a joke? Was this sent in by a guy? Are we really going there? The more I think about it...the more I think this may have been a sincere letter. With that in mind, let's proceed.
My first reaction was definitely mean, but the more I think about it, the more I kind of feel for this spouse. I'm not making excuses for her - she's definitely a misinformed, spoiled brat that thinks she's entitled to money simply for being married to a soldier (this part is hilarious - who told her this? It was cruel to tease her). But like I said before, I can sort of empathize with her because she obviously had no idea what she was getting into.
I'd really like to know how old she is - I'm guessing at least 22 since she has a degree, which is older than I would've given her credit for. She obviously led a sheltered life in Oklahoma and isn't adjusting well to her new adventure. My guess is that her parents also paid for college and gave her a monthly allowance because she doesn't know how to budget money. If her spouse is a second lieutenant (maybe a first lieutenant two years after West Point?) and they don't have any school debt and their housing is paid for...where does all their money go? I'm sure she could find a few bucks to get a haircut. Last I checked, most of the spouses I've met don't run around with crazy caveman hair (unless it's been one of those mornings with the baby, in which case, don't judge me).
And it sounds like she hadn't met anyone in the military before her husband joined. On the one hand, I get it. I grew up as an Army brat and worked for the military and yet, being an Army spouse is another beast entirely. I can only imagine the shell-shock she experienced without any prior exposure. It's like being thrown into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. On the other hand, with the Internet so readily available (and she clearly has access) and so many resources at your fingertips, it's hard not to wonder why she didn't do at least some research. A quick search with my good friend Google would've revealed there isn't such a thing as "wife pay." So should she take some of the blame for being uneducated? Yep, I think so.
As far as her friend situation goes, she's probably lonely because she's an entitled brat. Telling other people you're better than them isn't a great way to make friends. They're "not like me" is so degrading. I like "nice, expensive things" - right, and the rest of us like moth-eaten clothes and rusted out cars? Give me a break. My guess is that her attitude puts people off.
And if we want to talk about people living below an acceptable standard, let's talk about people who are struggling to get by because of low wages or unemployment. Living on a lieutenant's pay may be an adjustment, but it's hardly below an acceptable standard. In fact, it's probably comparable to an entry-level job that requires a suit and tie. 
And since we're talking about jobs, I've never heard of people having a hard time getting certified as a teacher in Texas. Makes me wonder if maybe she doesn't really want to work? From what I've gathered, she was more in the business of a MRS degree and was hoping to go from her father's care to her husband's. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be provided for, but maybe she should've aimed higher than a civil servant if she's only in it for the money. 
In the end, I feel for her. Her life has changed and she doesn't know how to cope with it. I feel for her husband, too. I'm sure it's difficult living with someone who doesn't believe you're making enough money or meeting her "needs." My guess is that if she's sincere, this marriage probably won't last much longer. She's already admitted that her parents paid for her wedding for "nothing." At this point, I don't think there's anything he can do to save it. And honestly, after all of her complaining and damage to his ego, I'm not sure he'd even want to try. I mean, their wedding day means "nothing" now because he isn't bring home enough cash. Ouch. 
I'm not sure if she ever wrote in to provide an update. I'll have to keep looking because I'm interested to know what happened to her. I'm hoping that once she read the responses she decided to buck up and fight for the man she loves, but I have a feeling she threw in the towel. She was already mid-throw when she wrote the letter. It's a shame, but the military lifestyle isn't for everyone. I hope that her husband - should he find himself divorced - finds someone that appreciates his service and is proud to call him her spouse. This lifestyle is what you make it and if you can find someone special to share it with, it can be downright amazing. Wishing them both (yes, both) the best of luck. 
What do y'all think? 
Looking for more articles about military spouses? Check out Response to I am Not My Spouse's Rank

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