dependapotamus,  Life,  military life,  military spouse,  milspouse,  navy wife

What the Hell is a Dependapotamus? The MilSpouse Wars

If you have a problem with this shirt, don’t buy one

A hello to all the Reddit people in the, well, you know which thread! I don’t think you’re going to hell as indicated, but I do think perhaps some of you need to re-evaluate how you spend your free time. Food for thought! Until this week I never knew terms like terms tag chaser and dependapotamus existed. I was on a milspouse page and actually had to ask what they meant. Upon further looking around on Facebook and the internet I also learned of terms such as “dependaho” (you can imagine) and “dependabag”. For those who aren’t in the know, a tag chaser is a woman who apparently targets men in the military who will be deployed in order to gain power of attorney and access to his direct deposits and benefits from the military. A dependapotamus is a woman who marries into the military, has multiple children, doesn’t work and lets herself go – that’s putting it mildly.

I’m *gasp* a milspouse with a career

My husband and I are “older” than most military families we happen to run across. We don’t live in military housing. We don’t have children living in our home and I have a great career all my own. The hubs was already in the military when we met and I have never been interested in a man for his money or benefits.  I was taught to never rely on a man to support me and because of my mother’s lessons I can take care of myself. Those are *my* choices. If the expectation in your family is different and works for you, I respect that.

And I’m a Brat

Growing up on Air Force Bases I didn’t see what I’ve come to refer to as the milspouse wars. From a child’s perspective I knew officers and NCOs stuck to their own areas, sort of, but I would hang out with children of officers. My mom, an NCO wife, was friends with officer’s wives. It was just normal. In fact, officer’s wives were lovely people. We would have block parties, BBQ’s, go on field trips together and it was a seemingly very supportive community. You were a military wife, period. You supported your husband. There were negatives, but they were not excuses to lash out at others.

Always call your mother

So I called my mom. I told her all about this and she was just as shocked as I was. She pointed out that perhaps it is a generation thing. Women in that time stayed home with their kids. It was expected and praised.  She also acknowledged that there have always been women after men – regardless of their occupation – for the wrong reasons. Now ain’t that the truth!? And now, we have the internet.To draw on personal experience, I joined an online military spouse community local to my area. I thought it would be a good way to get involved with the other wives. Sadly, there always seemed to be negative posts and uproars about name-calling or “gossip.” The administrator attempted to get together with the other wives, but this is a large area, we were spread out all over the county, some didn’t drive, some had small children and some worked so they couldn’t get out in the middle of their days to meet. It was irritating to others and they accused the women who couldn’t attend social outings of not making enough of an effort. With my own work responsibilities and travels, I didn’t make it to one event. After about a month, I left the page. I thought it was maybe an age thing because it got to the point I would just shake my head and not bother posting. Most of the women were in their early twenties and I am approaching forty. “Am I just getting old?” I asked myself.


I have been on base, too. I’ve seen the women who dress shockingly. I’ve seen more cleavage than I did at the Playboy Mansion! I have seen women walking around in crocs and pajama pants, hair clips holding up a sloppy pony-tail. I’ve seen children who looked like they were rolling in the mud before being pulled, screaming, into the NEX. Know what? I see that in airports, too. And malls. And civilian grocery stores. And the park. The list goes on and on…

Perhaps because so many military wives are encapsulated in this lifestyle, they don’t realize this is just as prevalent everywhere else. It is not just a military base or military wife thing.

But…As a military partner, I was taught you measure yourself by a different standard. Conduct, grooming, how your children behave – you are judged and your husband is most certainly observed in his choice of wife. That comes with the military life. It has always just been part of life. It never occurred to me that thought process might be wrong.

We all judge

Have I looked at women and thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, what if her husband’s LPO /CO/insert your acronym here saw her out like that?” Yes. I have.

Have I read Facebook posts, especially the political ones, so far from factual I feel sad that some of these women got married right out of high school, started having kids and didn’t give themselves an education? And I don’t just mean college. I mean an education about the world? Yep.

This doesn’t mean that I look like I am ready for the folds of a fashion magazine all of the time. It also doesn’t mean I don’t think plenty of people who started out young in their marriages can’t be educated and successful. It means the majority of what I am seeing these days is not indicative of how I personally want to be associated with the term “milspouse.”

Cut the shit

I’ve written this before elsewhere, and I will write it again. Women complain about not being able to get ahead, but we are harshest on each other. Have you seen the Who Wore it Better section of magazines? Or how about Whose Chest is Best? Yeah. Those things are real (no pun intended). Because society pits us against one another does not mean we have to take the bait. Most especially as military wives, I have to ask – aren’t we better than that? Hell yes we are! When will it stop?

I saw photos taken of unsuspecting women shopping in the commissary and posted on the internet without their knowledge or consent. It was appalling. I’ve seen name-calling. I’ve seen women perpetuating this idea that one branch is superior to all others, and not in the joking “ha ha” way. Example: Husbands of other women have been called stupid because they probably couldn’t make it into such and such branch. I’ve gotten the, “Oh your dad was Chair Force?” jokes. Believe me when I tell you they don’t go over well. Please say that to my father, a man who served three tours in Vietnam, was Pararescue, jumped out of helicopters to save lives and gave 28.5 years of his life to his country. Then come talk to me. Some would call me an overly sensitive milbrat and I am fine with that.

It goes on. Many wives pointing out the infamous women who pull rank because they want to live vicariously through their husband’s achievements. The pulling rank part? That’s not what pisses me off. What pisses me off is these women robbed themselves of the opportunity to make something of their lives they can own and be proud of. Their self-worth was invested not into themselves, but into this illusory idea they would become something because of what their husbands do. When will we encourage them to become more? When will the MILITARY encourage them? It’s enough to make one’s head spin.

Get a hobby or help if you need it

So for all the military wives (or for anyone) behind their computer screens engaged in any way with these cyber-bullying Facebook pages and websites: You are worth more than this. Your time is so much more valuable than calling out other women for their shortcomings. And your husband and his service to our country deserve more respect than that. Right or wrong, there is an expectation upon you to conduct yourself the way a military wife should. Cyber-bullying doesn’t make the cut. And anyone reading this knows it. Oh. And you may like to think so, but NONE of us are perfect – not even you.

Worry about yourself

Something tells me I haven’t seen it all, but I have seen and heard enough. I for one will proudly wear my anchors (within regulations), my Navy Wife shirts and madly Love my sailor. If you have any issue with it, that’s your problem and I would encourage you not to worry about what I or others choose to wear in an expression of pride for our servicemen. Some men and women wear sports jersey to support their teams. Somehow that is okay. I read the words of a woman on a social forum along the lines of “well, there’s no comparison.” She was right. There isn’t. A man who protects a ball is not comparable to a man who protects his country. Period.If you see something just a bit out of control, have your thoughts and move on. We’re human, but there are much bigger fish to fry. When did we stop being in this together?

Right now, I feel like I’m on the periphery outside looking into the world of other milspouses. I’m not part of the “in” online crowd. I don’t personally know many women who are married to servicemen (those I do know have been stationed elsewhere) so I mostly identify on the surface with the following: volunteer, dog lover, reptile lover, wine and cheese lover, career woman, lover of books, lover of travel and a little OCD.

As I continue to navigate military life now which sometimes contrasts the way it was when I was a kid, let me be clear here:

Above it all I am a wife. Yes, a proud military wife (translation: woman married to a man in the military).

That’s my priority. And my priorities are damn straight. What about yours? Postscript: If it’s getting on Reddit to bash people, I have your answer. Advice: Don’t be an asshole. 


    • Heather

      It is sad that there are women who do this to our servicemen. I agree. There are women who do this to men of all professions; not just military. I think the issue here is that many military wives – even the great ones – have been slumped into this category because of the actions of a handful that have the wrong intentions. My point here is we need to take the focus off of cyber-bullying those women and making the community of military wives a positive place to be. Right now, I personally do not see it that way.

    • Heather

      Thank you so much! Oh yes, believe me – some months I’m traveling over half the month for my job. A 40 hour work-week? HAHA what is that? I understand the grad school woes, too! I’ll definitely be my to check it out!!

  • Lauren Tamm

    We all do have bigger fish to fry! You are right! We definitely need to spend more time uniting as a community, rather than dividing.

  • Anonymous

    You are not a military wife. You are not in the military. You are married to man in the military. There is a MAJOR difference and you don’t get special treatment or extra respect because of HIS service.

    • Heather Wilson

      First, not sure why you wrote this anonymously? Never said I deserve extra respect or special treatment. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Honey, I am plenty proud of who I am and what I have accomplished ON MY OWN. That’s why this blog is called LIFE of a Traveling Navy Wife – NOT “My Life Married to a Man in the Military.” Geeze. Not really sure what you meant here, ummm…okay. And if you want to come back and argue semantics, be my guest. Yes, I’m a proud military wife. If you don’t get what that means, I’d be happy to enlighten you. Good grief. Thanks for proving my point, though! Bitter party of one…your table is now available!

    • Heather

      I couldn’t agree more. I was pretty shocked. I am also surprised people have that much time on their hands. They could use it for good, instead their lives are so sad they have to put others down to lift themselves up. Very sad indeed.

  • Jodi

    Those pages and sites make me so angry! I have joined and quickly left so many of them because I hate the broad generalizations of Navy wives. I had a teacher in high school who used to say, “NEVER say always or never because you will ALWAYS be wrong.”

    (PS Thanks for linking up today on #MILFAM Monday!)
    Jodi recently posted…#MILFAM Monday Linky PartyMy Profile

    • Heather

      Thanks for stopping by, Jodi! Yep. Haven’t joined one page since writing this. And LOL, your teacher was right! 😉

  • Malia @ Just Wandering

    All I have to say is AMEN SISTER! I have friends that jokingly say, oh you’re a Navy wife and I love correcting them and say no, I am my own person and I am married to someone who is in the military. And it really ticks me off because I refuse to be categorized, I’ll try not to go on ranting about it, but I’m sure you get what I’m saying.

    Love this article and it definitely needs to be said over and over again!
    Malia @ Just Wandering recently posted…Weekly Wishes #11My Profile

    • Heather

      Malia, thank you for this perspective and I applaud you so much for being your own person – your own woman! And yes, I totally get it. 😉

  • GreenMtnGirl

    I totally agree with you. Totally. I’m also older than most spouses my husband’s rank, so I dunno if it has to do with that or what. I really hate the term “dependapotamus” (and related terms) as well as the pages that make fun of spouses/female service members. However, a part of me totally not gets the whole not giving a crap part. I’ve honestly started to wonder if too much time spent as milspouse turns you into a huge bitch, the only thing in our lives we can control is ourselves. So I wonder if that’s why we do it? A vain attempt to have control over some small aspect of our lives?

    However, like you I always try to do my best to represent my husband to the best of my abilities. That involves honoring dress code (which is totally NOT enforced at the base we are at -_-;; ) and I”m sorry, but if I can make the effort to put on real pants you can too! I would ::love:: to wear my flipflops on base…but I don’t. I’m not the fashion type, but I’m sorry, no matter what you are doing pajamas or workout gear is not appropriate attire in public. It’s just not. It takes just as much effort to toss on actual clothes before you head out the door.

    • Heather W

      I am so sorry I missed this! Thank you for stopping by and for commenting. I absolutely hate the term, too and when I wrote this post I debated on using it in the title. I’d like to write that I’ve seen things improve, but instead I’ve become even more un-involved to ensure I am not caught up in any of the drama.

      • GreenMtnGirl

        Same here. I don’t fit in with other milspouses, I never have, so I’m just gonna do my own thing and not worry about it.

  • Poekitten

    The Milspouse Wars are just as bad as Mommy Wars and just as unnecessary. Nothing good comes from it but drama and division.

    My DH joined the Navy in his late twenties and we were married in our late twenties and I never fit it with the other wives on the boat. I said oh well and continued to do my thing:)

    • Heather W

      This is just about how I feel. Hubs was a police officers for 13 years. He joined the Navy very late in life – his 30’s (he was 34). We married later – we’ve been been married before. I’m old enough to be the mother of of a lot of those people LOL! So I just hope they grow out of it and realize their behavior does not respect their husband’s uniform.

  • heather ruppel

    Wow! Like you, I had not heard of these terms until… last month! I’ve only read about it and have never heard it on someones lips. It all sounds very childish to me to call someone that. We may identify with other military spouses… or not… but we do not walk in their shoes. So name calling for another spouses choices in their family dynamics is low. I know there are women who take advantage of men, but throwing those terms around for the general community of spouses does not help anyone. Great read!

  • Army veteran

    It’s simple. If you have a job, you are not a dependapotamus. If you are married to a serviceman and you refuse to work, you are a dependapotamus.