Army Wives

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Army Wives
Wendy Agbay
Baker College

The American public’s perception of military spouses is skewed due to a lack of information and incorrect media interpretation.  Military spouses must be willing to sacrifice, as well as have courage and integrity to make their family work under extreme circumstances. This cannot be portrayed in the media accurately.  Television shows such as Army Wives makes light of what a military spouse has to endure.  In turn, this hurts the reputation of the military and the wives who make such tremendous sacrifices for our country. Oftentimes, wrong information is more harmful than no information at all, especially in the case of this television show. To average civilians, with little to zero knowledge of the military, the show provides a glamorous and misrepresentative narrative.

We are a nation that has been at war for 12 years. The toll it has taken on our soldiers and their families is insurmountable. As a military spouse and soldier I have seen and lived with the challenges that a military family faces on a daily basis. The lack of basic military knowledge in the average civilian is stunning. As an active duty soldier, I refused to watch the show Army Wives or listen to national media reporting on the war. I know from personal experience that the media usually gets the facts wrong. Watching the show Army Wives I realized that pieces of the show that are accurate, however, it does not come close to the accurately portraying the reality of a military spouse. The show Army Wives is not a reality show; it is a TV drama that is meant to mimic what writers believe to be true. Life in the military is a difficult one. It has great benefits, yet it comes at a certain price: sacrifice.

Army Wives tells the story of four women and one man who are brought together by their common bond, they all have husband/wives who are enlisted in the United States Army. The series is based on the book Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives by Tanya Biank (4). “At the core, our show is about love. And the sacrifices you make for love: of your country, your friends, your family, your husband or wife,” said Army Wives creator Katherine Fugate (5).

A Military spouse is the result of a soldier and civilian getting married. The spouse is marrying the person they love, not the military. Military families come from varying backgrounds. It is challenging to live in a new environment, with its own set of laws, traditions and sense of duty. The military has a language known as acronyms: “On my way to the PX (Post Exchange) an MP (Military Police) pulled me over at the DFAC (Dining Facility), to tell me my POV (Personal Operating Vehicle) had a broken taillight.”  It is not easy to adjust to the challenges of a military lifestyle. Military families often face trials, such as separations, reunions, and relocations that their counterparts in the civilian sector do not, or at least not as frequently. Military families on average move every two to three years. Imagine this: packing up an entire life, moving with children, a new duty station, new town and not knowing the area or a single person in that town every two to three years. However, the show Army Wives portrays the characters living on the same military installation for five years

In the show one of the main focuses is on the FRG (family readiness group). The FRG is a group that aids military families in terms of social support, finding resources and communicating information about the unit. During deployments the military spouses run this group. It is not required for military spouses to participate(4). The show portrays a fantastically well-organized, board type meeting. There are many volunteers, fancy food, no children running around, and everyone is polite and friendly. The key difference between the show and reality is that in reality the leaders of the group often change due to permanent change of station...
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