For Carmen Blackmore, being a military spouse means feeling just like everybody else—but different.
“We’re your next-door neighbors; we just don’t live next door,” she explains.
At a glance, Carmen’s experience looks nothing like that of her neighbors. She’s moved four times in 12 years—from Tennessee to Texas, Alabama to New York, then North Carolina. In each new town, she found a new job, transferred college credits, and maintained a household—often without seeing her husband for long periods of time.
While Carmen may not be a traditional neighbor, she is deeply committed to her community.
“I would volunteer even if I wasn’t a military spouse,” she says.
Carmen spends up to 40 hours a week advising new military spouses on the opportunities available to them and volunteering with her children. She attributes her commitment to a desire to give back to the people and organizations that have helped her family: churches, YMCAs, and the USO have all offered support.
Carmen is grateful to President Obama and his administration, saying that the decision to transition from 12-month deployments to nine-month deployments for most combat zone servicemembers has been the most significant thing that's happened to her family in her time as a military spouse. In recent years, Carmen says she has seen military culture become more sympathetic towards servicemembers spending time with their families.
“Soldiers aren't thought of as just machines anymore. The importance of family to soldiers being good soldiers has become a reality. That's a good thing—a really good thing.”
If you missed it, you can watch the video of President Obama announcing a range of new initiatives to help veterans and their families here and make sure to pass it on.