By: Ruby Ramirez
This Friday is Military Spouse Day, and we honor and celebrate military spouses across the country and around the world for the stability, support, and care they provide to the men and women who serve in the armed forces.
Over the last year, families worldwide have been tested – emotionally and physically – by the ongoing pandemic. Despite that, the work of those who serve in the U.S. military has not paused, and neither has the support or the sacrifices made by their spouses.
Melissa Kedrowitsch, American Red Cross of Georgia Service to the Armed Forces volunteer, knows first-hand some of the challenges being a military spouse can bring and sites deployments, moves, and travel as some of the biggest hurdles to overcome.
She has been married to her husband, Major Alexander Kedrowitsch of the U.S. Army, for 16 years, and the two have been through three long deployments together, including one during the birth of their first child.
“He was gone during the birth. He came home a couple of days right after she was born, but then he didn’t come home until she was six months old,” Melissa said. Her husband left again for a 15-month deployment before their daughter, Alexis, turned a year old.
For the birth of their first child, Melissa worked with the Red Cross and their emergency communications volunteer team to notify her husband of their child’s birth.
“It was always so comforting to speak to the people at the Red Cross. They were always so helpful,” she said.
Here in Georgia, military families and spouses can find a variety of resources available to them via the American Red Cross, including emergency communications for deployed military and courses on learning skills to respond to the challenges of the deployment.
The Red Cross also offers virtual mental wellness courses provided by mental health professionals available for both parents and kids to combat the feelings of stress. For more information, call the Red Cross Hero Care Network at 1-877-272-7337 or visit redcross.com.
Nowadays, Major Kedrowitsch does temporary duty travel (TDY) several times annually and is gone for a total of about five months collectively out of the year.
The military family relocated to Fort Stewart in Georgia from West Point, New York, last summer. Since their eldest daughter was born 13 years ago, the family has moved a total of seven times.
Relocating every few years, making new friends, finding new volunteer opportunities, doctors, and new schools is very challenging, said the military mom of two.
Despite the challenges, Melissa said she embraces the military lifestyle and always strives to provides strength, consistency, and support to their two daughters – Alexis (13) and Lilly (6), and her husband while he’s away.
Melissa said, “My husband has been incredible about keeping in touch with the kids. He always reads to them and sends them videos. They read books together. He even sewed sock monkeys for my oldest daughter while he was deployed to Afghanistan.”
The two parents work together to try to provide as normal of a lifestyle for their two daughters as they can. They work collectively to create as many meaningful memories as they can when the family is together.
Missing holidays and significant events is hard on their two girls, but the couple pushes holidays and celebrating birthdays to when the family can be together.
“The kids are really flexible about that [holidays]. One year my husband came home in February, and we put the Christmas tree up in February. It was important for us to celebrate together as a family than to celebrate on an actual date,” she said.
Melissa also copes with the challenges of being a military spouse by making friends with other military families going through the same thing.
“They understand and provide support, and ultimately become like family,” she said.
She added that one of the things that helps is knowing that they are all part of “something larger.” She also takes pride in knowing how strong and independent she can be and sharing that strength with her two young daughters.
Since 9/11, the American Red Cross has served over 1 million military families. Families are eligible to receive
Red Cross assistance from the date of enlistment for more information about the services provided to military families and veterans, please visit redcross.org.