For a long time when the Sailor and I first started dating, I didn’t really feel official. Like, I was dating a guy, who happened to be in the Navy. I didn’t see myself as a “milso” or a navy girlfriend, and I was very hesitant to claim that title. I didn’t even know the term milso existed until I went onto Tumblr and found some other military wives and girlfriends and saw it being used. It was usually used along with a story about how they’ve seen their husband/boyfriend/fiancé all through each stage of their military career, and they wrote them letters in boot camp and how they were there on the day of graduation and it was so wonderful.
Well, when the Sailor told me he was going to join the Navy, we were just best friends. And we had come close to dating, but once he decided to join, I told him I didn’t want to start a long distance relationship that we didn’t even know would work. So we stayed friends and he ended up dating another girl all through boot camp and graduation and A School, and she visited him in Chicago and whatnot. I had asked her for his address, but never ended up sending him a letter. I saw online that he had graduated and seen his family and then girlfriend. I saw that he was in Chicago for some reason on Facebook (he was actually living there!). At some point, he broke up with the girl and lived his bachelor life style, until he came home right before he deployed the first time. I had started dating someone else (we actually broke up right before the end of his leave) and the Sailor deployed. We kept in constant contact while during his deployment all while being (very flirtatious) friends.
The reason I’m saying this is because I wasn’t *really* there for him during any of the hard beginning stuff. After hearing boot camp stories, I wish I had written him letters and I wish I had talked to him more and done more for him during his deployment. But it wasn’t my role at the time, so I didn’t. With that being said, I saw the term “milso” and navy girlfriend as very serious undertakings, and I didn’t accept the label for a long time. I was certainly proud of what he had done so far in his life and military career, but I guess I wasn’t proud of what I hadn’t done. I felt like an imposter, not a true navy girlfriend because we hadn’t shared those experiences. I think it really took up until us getting engaged (after a year of dating) and then him deploying (2 months after proposing) for it to really sink in and stick.
So for anyone who’s feeling out of place or feels like they don’t belong in the military significant other community, you are wrong! You are together with your service member and that’s all that matters. You are the reason they go to fight for their country and to keep you safe and you are the thing that keeps them going until they come home. And even if you haven’t gone through a deployment yet (and it’s not something I would wish on anyone), you are still very much a “milso.” Anyone else that tells you otherwise doesn’t understand what it is to be one.