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Army Spouses Have No Rank

Army Wives RankArmy spouses have no rank. [Click to tweet this]

It seems like this would be a statement that goes without saying. But lately I’ve been hearing many stories about wives or spouses believing they wear the rank of their soldier. And surprisingly, it hasn’t been just an officer vs. enlisted mentality as so many believe it always is.

Some of the most recent stories involve wives of enlisted pulling rank on other wives of enlisted or wives of officers doing the same to other wives of officers. Looks like no side is immune when it comes to the poor decision of wearing rank.

We’ve All Been There When This Happened…

Sally is involved in some sort of situation and spouts off “Do you know who my husband is?!” Or even better “Do you know what rank my husband is?!”

Sally consistently introduces herself as the wife/spouse of (insert rank).

Sally can’t complete a sentence without letting you know about her soldier’s rank or how much he makes or his newest promotion or….well you get the picture.

Sally lets you know not to be offended if she doesn’t speak to you in public because she’s a (higher ranking) spouse and you’re just a (lower ranking) spouse — and that one is my personal story! It happened to me within a few days of arriving at my husband’s first duty station.

And by the way, my apologies to anyone reading this who is named Sally – it was the first name that came to mind. 🙂

Be Involved in His Career without Being His Career

As an Army spouse, it is very easy to get wrapped up in your soldier’s career. It is, after all, one of the few career paths he can choose that involves the entire family. I can’t think of too many corporations that have family support groups or social gatherings for spouses only.

But whether you’re the General’s spouse or the spouse of a PV2, you’re just a spouse! No more, no less. Or in the eyes of the Army, you’re a dependent (I hate that word by the way!).

Own Your Own Identity

Your husband’s rank has no bearing on who YOU are as a person. When I had the title of director at work, my husband didn’t go around telling everyone he was a “Director’s husband”. Though that would have been kind of funny now that I think about it. 🙂

Seriously, rank should never enter the equation. Sure you are proud of your husband’s accomplishments and rightly so. We all are. But they are just that…his accomplishments. If anyone receives special treatment for rank, it should be him because he is the one who earned it.

The best gatherings I have been at with other wives were the ones where no one knows the rank of anyone else’s husband. At a recent gathering, the subject was actually changed when it was brought up by a newer spouse and I thought it was great. It reflected well on the ones who refused to discuss it.

Be Proud Without Being Obnoxious

Let’s all agree that we each have something (and someone) to be proud of as Army spouses. We all have reason to be equally proud because, no matter the rank, our spouse volunteered to serve our country and protect our freedoms. They took the same oath and they defend the same flag.

As Army wives, let’s all stand together, support one another and let the word “rank” become taboo in our circles.

*Several women who are serving in the military have emailed me about this blog post. Rest assured, I realize that you do have rank and you deserve to be respected for it as you have earned it. In this case, just replace every instance of “wife” with “husband” and vice versa. There is no disrespect intended towards female soldiers.

Image courtesy of Mary Vogt

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Heshly speck January 16, 2011, 1:56 am

    I wear a pin for dress blues on one of my winter jackets just to represent my husband b/c I’m very thankful for him

  • Jason Warner August 31, 2012, 1:59 am

    As a husband of an active duty women and being myself retired I would like to say that we having no rank and some that might are all team members in the successes of our spouses and our spouses units. Do not discount the great sacrifices of the spouses of all ranks.

  • Kayla Erwin October 29, 2012, 9:35 pm

    I look at this as the husband (in my case) wears the rank, and I don’t think I wear his rank, but without the support of myself, his family, and his battle buddies there is no way he would be where he is today in his army career. The whole army is based off the buddy system, and regardless we should all be there to support them mentally, and encourage them to push through.

  • Trish Hunt May 7, 2013, 8:25 pm

    I believe every spouse has a very important role and responsibility. but my officer husband gave me a book shortly after we were married to guide me in my new role. He has been in the military for 23 years and when I read him your blog “Army wives have no rank,” he quickly said, “Tell her to go up to the General’s wife and say that to her, because Ooohh, yes they do!” I represent my husband and have learned the rules are different for officers and their spouses. Whether it should or not, that’s just the way it is. However, it doesn’t make anyone any “better” than anyone else. Actually, it makes me feel an added pressure that I did not have before we were married. Ironically, I don’t know many other wives and the ones I do, most are not officers. I’m glad rank is not relevant in the friendships I’ve made, but I must always be aware of the higher responsibility my husband has due to his rank and role in the Army, and therefore uphold that standard as well.
    Please continue to post your views, and allow us to comment freely. All of our spouses have given us that right and I greatly enjoy reading your blogs.

    • SH October 1, 2013, 10:48 pm

      What book did he give to you?

  • sharon June 22, 2013, 11:27 pm

    I agree with Stacey, she’s right the wife has no rank. Do we whole heartedly support our husbands that have earned the rank, the answer is yes of course. However, should his wife introduce herself or be introduced by her husbands rank, no I do not. I find it appalling when I go to a army wife potluck and the conversation in the room is about the rank of their husbands. Hey, whatever happen to Hi I’m Sharon nice to meet you not Hello I’m the wife of Sargent first class. Its kind of disgusting if you ask me, I mean I earned a college degree I’m somebody, and because I’m married to a soldier all my accomplishments no longer exist (and now I’m officially defined by the rank of my husband). As far as upholding a certain standard due to the rank of our husbands. Really!!! shouldn’t we all as women uphold a certain standard for the sake of ourselves and not need our husband to bring home a (manner book) to teach us how to behave as a lady and law abiding citizen. I’m a proud wife and love my husband for choosing a career to protect our beautiful country. However, he earned his stripes and I stand behind him as he wear them proudly, but at the end of the day (Hello I’m Sharon).

  • Chrissy October 9, 2013, 5:10 pm

    I’ve seen far too many women basing their importance off their husband’s rank. Congratulations to your husband on being a Staff Sergeant but honey, YOU are not one. As Sharon said, I have my own identity. I too earned my college degree and had made my own accomplishments before I became an Army wife and a stay at home mom. I saw a post made online by a girl who stated that due to her husband being a certain rank, the gate guards needed to salute her as she entered and if they didn’t, they needed to be informed of exactly who she is. That is the kind of BS that just makes me angry. Why the hell should a spouse be saluted for their military spouse’s accomplishments? Simple answer is, they shouldn’t! Unless you went out there, fought and worked hard for that rank, it is not your’s and therefore you have no claim to it. Is it hard being the spouse? Yes, it is and no one’s saying it isn’t. But don’t take credit for something you didn’t do.

  • Amanda Theriault October 15, 2013, 1:48 pm

    one of the things I cant stand is when a military spouse or an exmilitary spouse says “oh, I’ve been in for so and so years…” or “I was in for so and so years…”….yes, you stood or maybe even still stand by your soldier proudly and helped take care of the family but YOU WERE NOT ENLISTED INTO THE MILTARY THEREFORE YOU WHERE NOT OR HAVE NO BEEN IN FOR SO AND SO YEARS!!!!!!! and another thing for those spouses that say they have been in for so and so years or whatever, YOU DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE freaking MILITARY!!!! I’m not saying I do, because I sooooo do not lol but it just really gets on my nerves so badly I want to slap the person UGH!!
    one of these people that im talking about is my Monster-In-Law. she is a divorced military spouse who swears she has moved on and has even remarried a man her fathers age.

    • Stacey Abler October 15, 2013, 9:54 pm

      It’s always fun dealing with some of these people. I have to remind myself they are few and far between (thank goodness!!) 🙂

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