This morning, the San Diego harbor was busy as U.S. Navy warships pulled back into port. The piers were just as engaged with activity as families and loved ones of the crew stood by eagerly awaiting their Sailors’ return, which was especially fitting as today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. On this day, as many of San Diego’s Sailors are reunited with their spouses, we recognize the significant challenges overcome and sacrifices made by those spouses in their absence.
Megan Lisherness is married Drew Lisherness, a Fireman assigned to USS Dewey (DDG 105). Today marked the completion of their first deployment as a couple.
“The hardest part was that I didn’t know anyone here,” said Megan. “My advice to military spouses is talk to people, get out and meet people.”
Megan and her husband Drew met in high school in Kingman, Arizona.
Other spouses on the pier today had already held a few deployments under their belts.
Mandy Noza, wife of Andee Noza, the Antisubmarine Warfare Officer aboard Dewey, stood by with the Noza family.
“He was forward deployed in Japan before this tour, and I stayed here in the states, so this isn’t our first time apart. But this one was harder, although shorter – we had a lot of life changes recently. It was stressful to handle those things by myself, but it made me more independent and stronger.”
The Nozas are both from the San Diego area.
Kim Woelky, wife of Alex Woelke, an Information Technology Specialist First Class on the ship, commented that “every deployment is different. The crew of the Dewey worked hard to keep their tempo, and we are all very proud of our spouses on the ship.” Kim has experienced three deployments with her husband.
Homecomings are in some ways the perfect opportunity to see some reward for the sacrifices military spouses make – Ashley Puga, wife of Humberto Puga, an Electronics Technician First Class, is newly pregnant, and did a gender reveal at the pier in celebration of her husband’s homecoming. This will be their first child.
When commenting on the importance of spouses to our military, Admiral Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations said, “We just could not do our business without our spouses. (They) stand shoulder to shoulder with us. By virtue of the oath that they’ve taken to one another, they are drawn into this oath that we take to support and defend the Constitution.”
His counterpart on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Neller, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps acknowledged in this year’s Military Spouse Appreciation Day message that, “the life of a military family is one of unique challenge and sacrifice coupled with opportunity and experience that most people cannot imagine. No one understands the requirements of this life better than a U.S. Navy spouse. The selfless contribution of our military spouses provides a stability that enables mission and family readiness.”
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation officially recognizing Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This formal recognition showed the importance of the role the military spouse has in the readiness of our military forces. The Department of Defense then standardized the date by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day every year as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In 1999, Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day a part of National Military Appreciation Month.
You need not go further than the waterfront during a homecoming to see that the military spouse exudes grace, strength, and devotion despite the fluid and dynamic environment of military life.