FORT MOORE, Ga. (WRBL)—Local military spouses want people to know being the significant other of a servicemember is not the same as it once was. On National Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Fort Moore military spouses highlighted the highs and lows of being Army wives today.

“We’re not all homemakers that sit at home at all,” said Tutt McCracken, 41, current president of the Fort Moore Spouses Club.

McCracken has been a military spouse for the past 18 years, having met her husband through ROTC and the Pershing Rifles fraternity at Indiana University.

At the time, McCracken sought to follow in the footsteps of her father and grandfather who both served in the Army. She was forced to leave the program after her sophomore year due to a history of sports-induced asthma.

“Some people think that there’s like this monolith of military spouses,” said Fort Moore Spouses Club Social Media Chair Jeni Putnam, 45. “They think that [if] they might think differently that they wouldn’t fit in in the military community and I don’t think that’s true.”

Putnam highlighted how military spouses have many different backgrounds, challenges and jobs, making it a diverse community. The chair met her husband in high school and they have been married since he commissioned 24 years ago.

Today, Putnam juggles working with the Spouses Club’s Deploy a Dress project, volunteering for Boy Scouts of America troop #27, being a cookie mom for Girl Scouts Troop #50263, and working with the Protestant Women’s Chapel.

Some Spouses Club members are former Army soldiers themselves. Christi Stapay, 36, served in the Army for four-and-a-half years after commissioning straight after finishing college, during which time she met her husband who she has been married to for the last 13 years.

The Fort Moore Spouses Club is open to spouses of all genders, although it currently has just one male member. According to Stapay, this is largely due to the fact Fort Moore is primarily a combat arms facility and women have only been able to serve in combat arms units for the past decade.   

The women agreed life as a military spouse includes challenges and upsides.

“I love the pomp and circumstance,” said McCracken, who got to unveil a new sign as part of Fort Moore designation ceremony yesterday, May 11, as a result of being awarded the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) volunteer family of the year alongside her husband and two children. Putnam’s family was the runner-up.

Putnam said that it can be hard to be far from home, but all the women said they love it when friends and family make the effort to visit. They also said technology can help maintain friendships and jobs, but it isn’t perfect.  

“I’ve talked to military spouses getting retrained in remote work-friendly jobs not because they want to but because they can’t find jobs in their chosen profession,” said Putnam, who has been doing remote work for over 20 years.

Social media, texting and gaming also help the women and their children maintain relationships through military moves. McCracken said she made her child business cards with their name and contact information, including an Xbox gamer tag, which they can give to friends to help stay in touch.

The frequent moves are also sometimes beneficial. Stapay pointed to her daughter’s early education in Kuwait.

“As a three-year-old she learned about diversity and what it’s like to be a minority, which is a rare opportunity for a white person in America,” she said, adding that the experience made her daughter more understanding and empathetic.

For the Spouses Club, the most important thing is giving back to their community. The club’s thrift shop and events raise money for initiatives like supporting Fort Moore’s Battle Buddy Resource Center. This year, they gave $82,000 in grants and scholarships.

The Fort Moore Spouses Club also runs a location for Operation Deploy Your Dress, which offsets the cost of formal events for military wives and daughters by providing them with gowns, shoes and accessories for balls and school dances.

McCracken hammered in that the club is open to everyone and said, “The Spouses Club is not the thing of the past where you have to…believe a certain thing, wear the white gloves, all of that stuff. It’s not the old Army.”