Former Chairman of National Bank of Alaska Elmer E. Rasmuson knows something about being a military spouse. His wife served with distinction in the military and blazed a trail for women serving in the United States Military. According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, the late COL Mary Louise Milligan Rasmuson got selected from the initial pool of 30,000 applicants for the new Women's Army Corps (WAC). She rose quickly through the ranks and in 1957 became the fifth commandant of the WAC, a position she occupied for six years, first appointed by President Eisenhower and reappointed by President Kennedy.
I wonder what stories Elmer would share with us about life as a male military spouse back in the 1950s. I'm sure he had some tales to tell! Fast forward to the 21st Century and you'll find new names, new faces, and a new mission. IntroducingMacho Spouse!
According to Macho Spouse Founder Chris Pape, here are the numbers:
- 98,500 active duty male military spouses
- 88,140 reserve/national guard male military spouses
- Over 50% are civilian – no military background
- Nearly 187,000 male military spouses around the world according to Department of Defense (DoD)
You're about to discover the life & times of Macho Spouse Chris Pape. He tells the story of what a Macho Spouse is and what's being done to get the word out on what life as a Macho Spouse is all about:
Charles "Chazz" Pratt III (CP3): The Macho Spouse mission is to help male military spouses connect with one another and assure that we are not alone in this military family lifestyle. How do you do this?
Macho Spouse Chris Pape (Macho Spouse): We start by offering a basic connection through our videos. We travel across the country interviewing male military spouses and their families about how they handle traditional military life issues. We then edit those interviews into short segments and post them on our website. These videos allow for others to actually listen and see for themselves that other men are going through similar situations. The video breaks through the "anonymous" barrier and creates an instant connection with our viewers. We then try to help those basic connections grow by encouraging our members to post their current duty-station location, their own blogs, messages, news articles, photos, and videos. We built MachoSpouse.com for our members and we want them to think of it as their own tool for connection. Our membership is free to anyone interested in a positive, pro-active message for men and their families; we don't discriminate between military branch, rank, sex, or anything else that may set people apart.
CP3: I recall attending formal military functions such as a Dining Out and several of the army wives complaining that their dresses had not arrived from their Spiegel catalog order back in the 1980s. What do Macho Spouses worry about when attending such functions?
Macho Spouse: How to get out of attending such functions is usually the first stress. The second stress is coming up with a back-up plan in case the first plan doesn't work. When neither plan comes together nor we end up attending these military functions, we usually worry about the awkwardness of being one of a few (or the only) male spouse in the room. It's also uncomfortable when the wife is pulled away and I am either left alone in the corner, or forced into a social setting with people I have little in common with. It's just not as easy to blend in when you are the only male spouse in the room.
CP3: You have lots of video content on your website/blog that provides plenty of info for Macho Spouses everywhere. What can any Macho Spouse — young or older — expect to see when they visit your site? The Military Spouse of the Year program started nominations and voting recently. Is this something many male military spouses have participated in?
Macho Spouse: A visitor to MachoSpouse.com can expect to have access to a lot of informational content. However, we work hard not to overwhelm our visitors with too much boring text, or too many graphics that don't mean anything. We try to find a nice mix of pictures, videos, graphics, and text. When Taurus and I were building the website, it was important for us to create an engaging, fun, energetic website that conveyed valuable information to military spouses and members of either gender. Notice I mentioned that our content isn't designed for just male military spouses because it's proven to be of interest to women as well. It's also important to note our heavy use of video content. From the first click on MachoSpouse.com, you will see the use of high-quality, professionally produced videos engaging our viewers. That's our bread and butter and it's what sets us apart from other military family websites and organizations.
I believe the Military Spouse of the Year (MSOY) program is something that's beginning to catch on with male military spouses, but it still has a way to go to grab our full attention. Most guys are competitive by nature and this is another avenue to be competitive. I also think more female service members are nominating their significant others because they are beginning to realize just how deep their husbands' commitments and sacrifices have been. I guess time will tell if the MSOY ever takes off within the male spouse community. Maybe one day we can play "Fantasy MSOY" and pick teams or something.
CP3: How do male uniformed spouses react to you being around their female military spouses? Do you have situations where building trust becomes more important than you anticipated?
Macho Spouse: I honestly haven't spent much time with male service members since we've never lived on base. I can say that I really don't care what male uniformed spouses think of me being around their wives. I know who I am and I'm too old for that nonsense. Life is hard enough without introducing crazy drama into the mix. Most of the men I've met aren't looking to hang out with the wives anyway, they would rather drink a beer and watch the game, go fishing, bowling, or do anything other than sit around and play cards with the ladies. Having said that, I've heard some stories from other male spouses who've had issues with military husbands. It usually ends with the female spouse not being allowed to communicate, or hangout, with the male spouse. Maybe in some situations it's better that way, maybe not. Every couple has to make their own decisions about trust and communication.
Stay tuned for part II of my inteview with the Macho Spouse.