Monday, September 9
Military Monday: Enlisted vs Officer
Thanks to the crippled Eights On The Move, she brings us a poignant open communication on the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the military.
Enlisted vs. Officer
Dun dun dun. Let the cat fighting begin!! Will someone hold my weave?
What are your experiences with each side of the military and their spouses/significant others?
My (girlfriend-based) experience has only been personally on the Officer side of the line, and even then it's evolved over the 10 years that Mr. Wookie has been associated with the Navy (4 years at ROTC, 6 years Active Duty). At first, which I understand, there's a strict demarcation between Enlisted and Officer because there are ALWAYS people who cross that line, start relations, and then one of the careers suffers (typically the Officer's). So it's made known that there's ZERO fraternization. Apparently it's difficult to find attractive fellow Officers so instead let's risk our occupation for a little peenplay. Seriously??
However with that, at least from my viewpoint, that this "no excuse" can also come off as cold and disheartening when in social settings. It's like you don't know how to act around each other, so you just follow what's in the Command. It wasn't until we've been a couple years in this California station (and after a welcomed Change in Command to a Skipper that likes to blur the lines and consider everyone family), that there's been a strong support "between the lines." There are family outing for the entire squadron when non-deployed, we attended an "All Khaki" Dining Out ('khakis' are upper Enlisted and all Officers) right before deployment, and there've been a few "squadron family days" during deployment (however, there's just not a lot of young married guys in the squadron so they're very limited to Chief's families).
The "line" is best when fully supported by the Command that one is not better than the other. An yes, O-1 will always be the most awkward ever. Yup, they're an Officer - but they don't know anything yet in terms of 'big Navy' (no matter if they come from that academy, OSC, or ROTC). Even if yo' momma is a retired O-5 like Mr. Wookie. But if they play their cards right, respect their Chiefs, get hazed a little by JOPA, then they should settle in just fine. Thankfully Mr. Wookie avoided the O-1 awkward phase by being buried with flight school.
What are your opinions on the benefits and drawbacks? Or - is there really no big line drawn in the sand from your experiences?
As far as my personal experience is concerned, I've only ever had active involvement with the Enlisted personnel within his tour here in sunny California - and it's been okay (not terrible, not awesome). Mr. Wookie's squadron has A LOT of single, young Enlisted guys. Obviously with those Enlisted families that do exist, they're deep in raising children and running their households.
I do not raise any two-legged children, so there's just not a draw to develop any further friendships. It's natural to seek similar to one's own lifestyle. Also, typically those raising families are mid-30's. I'm fighting turning 30 with every fiber of my being and will stick with, "I'm 27" until the crow's feet get worse (or I get Juviderm). 30 just sounds awful, old, and borderline requiring Metamucil. Can I pass?
Does your significant other's command blend the two seamlessly? Do you participate in the events together? Wives clubs? Treated differently for various aspects of military life?
And like above, with not a strong showing of Enlisted families, there's not a large parameter of Enlisted wives. Our Command does not have an FRG or any sort of faux-council committee (I say that because it makes me laugh the Commands that have FRG's that think they're like the Senate. "Excuse me, do you have the talking wand??" Seriously?? Who wants to be a part of the C**t Committee?? I'd pass faster than wind).
The (actual name) Officer's Support Club only includes Officer's spouses/girlfriends and currently is treated more like a social club than a 1950's don-the-aprons "Spouses group" where there's tiered seniority. Yes, there are meal delivery schedules when babies are born and there are flowers sent when Grandma Gustav passes away. But there's no longer the reign of bitchy Department Head wives who felt that "girlfriends" have a free pass to be shit on. And if I ever meet that stupid bitch who thought she was hot shit - I'll snatch kick her. Hard. When we finally PCS, I will be leaving a solid group of ladies that have come from clique-y and judgmental (thanks to bitchy ladies PCSing away) to awesome and entertaining. I will miss them. But my work here is done.
The support group is for SUPPORT. It's hard enough to deal with certain parts of the military life. Yes, there's a signing on for having babies by yourself (use birth control), MOVING YOUR HOME BY YOURSELF (live on a yacht), and looking for work every 3 years (inherit a trust fund). But it is nice to bitch about your day while someone else pours a solid glass of wine. That's just nice. And I'm an excellent pour-er.
Thanks Ashley for the great conversation this week! I look forward to the other responses!