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Written by: Kayla Reed-Fitzke, PhD, LMFT

In 2022, there were 923,668 military spouses, approximately 63% of which were active-duty spouses1, who served a critical military function – military family readiness. Military spouses make sacrifices alongside military personnel in a different form of service. They support service members at every stage of the military family life cycle, such as relocating for a permanent change of station, and during deployment and reintegration. They experience the turbulence that comes with the operational tempo of military life. They often sacrifice their own jobs in response to their partner’s call to service. They are the silent heroes of the armed forces.

In recognition of such sacrifice, the Friday before Mother’s Day – this year on Friday, May 10, 2024 – is officially observed as National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. The first Military Spouse Appreciation Day was observed on May 23, 1984, and was created by President Ronald Reagan. To expand the time spent in appreciation of military spouses, the Appreciation Day was extended to National Military Appreciation Month in 1999. Each year, the original Appreciation Day is formally celebrated by either the President or First Lady giving a ceremonial speech or proclamation. Here is the proclamation by President Biden on last year’s Appreciation Day.

Who Are Military Spouses?

 The phrase ‘military spouse’ refers to individuals married to, or in a registered domestic partnership with, a military service member. Although military spouses are predominantly female (90.3%), they are a diverse group of individuals.1 To give you a sense of ‘who’ military spouses are, here are some highlights:

  • Of active-duty spouses, less than two-thirds are between ages 18 and 35. Almost 39% are 36 years or older, whereas 51.5% of Guard/Reserve spouses are 36 years or older.1
  • Proportionately, military spouses are spread quite evenly across the service branches. However, although the largest percentage of spouses are connected to the Marine Corps, the highest number of overall military spouses are connected to the Army.1
  • Over half of active-duty (58.3%) and Guard/Reserve spouses (52.3%) are married to service members within the E1-E6 pay grades.1
  • Military spouses are highly educated. Among active-duty spouses, 62% hold an Associate’s degree or higher, with 28% having received some college credit or vocational/technical diploma.2
  • Employment rates vary as well. Among active-duty spouses, 79% are employed (not including dual-military spouses), whereas 93% of Guard/Reserve spouses are employed.2,3 Across components, more civilian spouses of enlisted personnel are unemployed than those partnered with officers.2,3
  •  Of military spouses with a child(ren), only 38% report having childcare during the workday.2

How Can I Show My Appreciation?

Here are some ways that you can show appreciation to the military spouses in your life:

  • Spread awareness of National Military Spouse Appreciation Month by sharing on social media or putting up a poster in your office.
  • Share videos that highlight military spouses.
  • Host an educational workshop or appreciation luncheon that features military spouses.
  • Get military spouses connected to helpful resources, such as the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities services and upcoming virtual events for spouses trying to meet their educational and career goals.
  • Take the time to learn more about the challenges military spouses face. Get connected to OneOp to see upcoming professional development opportunities linked to military spouses and family support.
  • Send a video message, email, or e-card showing your appreciation to the military spouses you work with.
  • Add an extra line to that email correspondence – let them know you appreciate them as you work alongside them!

One small moment of appreciation can bring a ray of gratitude into a military spouse’s day. This Friday, May 10, take a moment to thank the military spouses you know!


  1. U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center (September 2022). Active Duty Military Family File. Alexandria, VA.
  2. U.S. Department of Defense, Office of People Analytics (2021). Survey of Active Duty Spouses: Tabulations of Responses. Alexandria, VA.
  3. U.S. Department of Defense, Office of People Analytics (2019). Survey of Reserve Component Spouses: Tabulations of Responses. Alexandria, VA.

Photo by design.designer / Adobe Stock