Coming Soon: Military Dependent Uniforms
DV SpookyCat Saturday, March 2, 2019
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Strange times make for strange bedfellows. At least that’s what Karen Howell and Susan Bedford say about their unlikely partnership. Karen is an Air Force Veteran that has been out for nearly 6 years. Susan is a 14 year Army wife, FRG leader, Ombudsman, and the secretary for the PWC at the base chapel. The two met in the food court of the BX. Sharon was misidentified as a dependent spouse, a very common occurrence, by a hat vendor. Susan witnessed the exchange and realized that it wasn’t just dependents that struggle for recognition, but young veterans too.
This moment gave birth to what has become known as the Military Dependent Uniform, or MDU for short. “After telling Karen what I wanted to do, and she kind of half shrugged and walked away. I made the suggestion to my husband and he didn’t object either. The rest just happened so fast!” Susan recounted. She led the charge with lawmakers and military leaders to establish and implement an MDU. Karen said she was surprised any one would go along with this, “I mean, it only takes four seconds around the two of us to tell who is the veteran of the pair, why make a whole uniform? But Susan loves this shit and really doesn’t let me talk or anything. I really never expected it to be adopted, much less supported by the VA and so many congressmen. It was just something fun to do on the internet. Then, BAM! I’m meeting the President and picking fabrics?”
The project has led to the establishment of the Joint Chiefs Auxiliary Staff, who will be the primary oversight for the design and implementation. Phase one is already underway on select bases, to ascertain what does and does not work. Eight hundred spouses worldwide have been selected to be the first to wear CAC style IDs on lanyards that clearly identify their branch and rank. Next fall, they will be issued a utility coat and possibly some form of T-shirt. The final phase is expected to be completed by 2022, to coincide with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs joint effort with DeCA and the exchanges to offer full privileges to all registered veterans. “Our hope is to ensure no more vets get “Dependa’d” improperly.
The bold move by the DOD is not without its critics. Several spouses contacted us to voice concerns that this would give way to establishing physical standards that they described as “unrealistic” and “sexist.” There’s even a counter petition on change.org to protect these spouses and their children from being forced into any type of PT program. One young woman, who didn’t wish to be identified, said that she didn’t join the dependent ranks so that she could be turned into an automaton. “I am not taking out my piercings or giving up my style, so I can fit into some woman’s fantasy of ordering me around because I am married to an E5.” When approached with the concerns, the Joint Chiefs Auxiliary Staff promised that the rank structure would not be utilized to control one another and that they saw to it that the MDU was both unisex and available up to size 5x without having to be special ordered.
Susan is eager to see this sea change within the armed services and hopes that the new look and recognition will attract more quality individuals to marry service members and reservists. “This is no longer just about making sure we get seen for what we are, but about overcoming stereotypes. We’re not just here for the BAH and Tricare, we’re here to serve.”
Article written by: DV SpookyCat; She doesn't purr but she will tell you if you're an asshole.
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