When Melissa Seligman's husband left for his second deployment to Iraq, she knew all too well what was expected of her.
"I was expected to be the nice, caring, understanding military wife and mom," Seligman said. "No military wife wants to admit that she is hurt -- and sometimes angry and very fearful -- of being alone when her husband is deployed, ... sometimes for the second or third time. It's very hard. The guilt we feel from these natural emotions often keeps us silent."
Seligman said she hopes her new weekly podcast, "Her War," will help to provide a platform for military wives to openly discuss such anxieties and uncertainties about their husbands' deployments. The podcast, she said, is dedicated to providing military wives with the tools and resources they need to better equip themselves to deal with separation issues.
Weekly discussions will focus not only on hope, understanding and acceptance, but also on denial, anger, bargaining and depression -- feelings that she said often are hidden.
"'Her War' is about honesty," Seligman said. "Military wives can join our discussions and be fully honest about their inner fears and not worry about being judged. The absolute focus of this podcast is to uplift them. I truly believe giving these wives a chance to speak, hear and take charge will empower them. In doing so, we strengthen our soldiers, our marriages and our abilities to mother."
Seligman, with the help of another military wife, Chris Piper, launched the "Her War" podcast last week. The first discussion, which included eight military wives, centered on hope and denial.
"The podcast went really well," said Lucy Brassard, whose husband just returned from Afghanistan. "I was really pleased with the format. I could relate. This is a support group of women who have been there. You can trust them.
"I also liked the anonymity," she continued. "We military wives are often so closed-lipped. We just don't discuss these issues out in the open. When you join the podcast, the only name people know is your screen name. It just makes you feel more comfortable and more relaxed."
This is the type of atmosphere she'd hoped to capture, Piper said.
"I believe military spouses don't feel they have a right to feel a certain way, especially with their spouse in harm's way," she said. "With this podcast, they can learn that they are normal and not alone. We sit here in our homes thinking that we are the only ones that are grieving for our husbands while they are gone. Just knowing that we are having normal feelings and thoughts helps. We can learn to rely on ourselves and each other. We can also learn about other resources that the military provides for dealing with deployments."
Seligman, the author of "The Day After He Left for Iraq," said her inspiration for this podcast came from a military wife who drove three hours to her first book signing.
"She walked into the store carrying the weight of her burden and told me simply, 'I'm a military spouse, too,'" Seligman said. "She fell into my arms and cried. I told her she was not alone. Right then, I knew I wanted to create a tool that would uplift spouses and give them a sense of support and normalcy."
The "Her War" podcast is hosted by Courage Community, a California-based online support group consisting of mental health professionals and volunteers.
"We provide an online network and a lifeline of hope for those looking for peer support, professional help, reconnection to the community or just an understanding friend," Carlana Stone, founder of Courage Community, said. "Melissa is on a passion-driven pursuit, from her own military experiences in life, to empower and uplift military wives. We wanted to be a part of this. Courage Community wants to be an ally for these women."
By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service