Hilton’s advocacy started, as most passion projects do, at home. Many of the programs and support systems for Americans with disabilities are administered on a state-by-state basis, often with long waiting lists. In Virginia, where the Hiltons currently live, while his wife is stationed at the nearby Joint Base Andrews, the waiting list for Medicaid waivers is some 15 years long. “If I was a civilian, my daughter would hopefully be provided some support by the time she was an adult,” Hilton explains. Instead, because the family has to move so frequently, “we go from the bottom of the waiting list to the bottom of the waiting list.”
For Hilton, the cause is much more important than breaking gender barriers. “I don’t want to be applauded for being a man. I want to be applauded for what I’ve done,” he says. “I don’t want to be known as the first male military spouse of the year. I suspect the first female fighter pilot was like, I’m a damn good fighter pilot, and that has nothing to do with my sex. It’s because I’ve worked my butt off. ”
Good on him! Apparently the dude was in the Navy, which explains why he fled when he had the chance…I KID, I KID!
This made me want to go find out more about the Military Spouse Magazine, as there was no such thing when I was a dependent. I found an interview about the online forum/community and it had the usual blah-blah-blah except for one question that I found interesting. Not because it was a new thing, but because they acted like it was a recent phenomenon.
What, if anything, does the creation of Military Spouse tell us about the split between the nation’s civilian and military populations?
A very tricky question, indeed. In short, it tells us that the gap is there. I think the fact that the magazine is so well received, has become the flagship for the entire community and has led the way for other efforts (non-profits, DOD programs and studies, etc.) to be born says that there was a need waiting to be filled. I think it also underscores that mainstream, civilian publications and resources cannot provide the unique requirements of our community. In other words, what we need is different than what was available.
Tell us some things about military spouses that most non-military spouses would be surprised to learn.
I think civilian spouses might be surprised to learn that we don’t travel for free and that our educations are not paid for — I get that a lot as a spouse of a Navy service member. On a serious note, I think civilians might be surprised that while the Internet does significantly allow for more communication between a family and a deployed service member, it is by no means the same as when people are stateside. Usually, phone calls and emails are limited to one or so a day on average, and even less often when a member is in a “hot zone”. Finally, I think civilians would find it interesting that as military, we all speak in acronyms and really only understand each other. Ha!
That split has existed since the Vietnam war, prior to that wars were fought on manpower and honor, so every able male signed up to fight as soon as there was a fight to be had. This is merely an impression, without any factual information to back it up, but the US is probably the only country where joining the military is not considered a valid career choice. Even for those countries that have mandatory service, I doubt parents are dismayed by the idea of their children serving their country in this manner. Only in the most successful republic on the face of the Earth, is joining the military considered shameful. That contempt falls on military spouses as well, and on their children no doubt.
I’ve always done what I could to counter that contempt with examples of the proud men and women who serve our country, and the spouses who stand by their sides. There seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding the demographics of who joins the military. It’s good to see these false assumptions being addressed head-on.