Male military spouses have to find a way to build a resilient community of their own, Wayne Perry, a "manspouse" and stay-at-home dad at Fort Riley, Kan.,, said Tuesday, Oct. 23 at the 2012 Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Association of the United States Army.
Perry, who been the breadwinner, said he had no idea what he was in for when his wife joined the Army. When she deployed for 18 months soon after finishing Advanced Infantry Training, he was left with the care of his sons, one and 10.
“I didn’t realize the magnitude of the stress of thinking of my wife on an outpost in Afghanistan,” he said.
"The military spouse community, I believe, has welcomed us in," he said of male spouses, "but I believe there's still a separation. When we send our soldier off to war, I can't go hang out on a couch with some guy's wife on Friday night."
A month after his wife deployed, Perry said he founded the group Manning the Homefront to build a community among his married-to-the military male peers.
"We've brought young guys together.," he said. "We see a resilient community being built. We see guys getting together to play golf, grab a burger, go to a ballgame."
"You don't necessarily get counseling from another guy by sitting down and having a heart-to-heart conversation," he added. "You get it on the way to the ballgame, you get it at the ballgame."
Manning the Homefront has made great strides this year, according to Perry. The group launched a website--machospouse.com--named its first male military spouse of the year, and is"growing by leaps and bounds,"he said. It now has some 95 members from all services, some referred to the group by military wives who know of it.
Perry called the current number of male spouses in the Army--20,000 apart from another 16,000 who are part of dual military couples--"staggering." He said the number is on the rise as more women join the military. Counting dual military couples, he said, male spouses are part of 9 percent of marriages in the Army as well as 34 percent of divorces..
Perry hailed the AUSA session as the first time the situation of male military spouses has been recognized and talked about at a national forum.