Friday is “Military Spouse Appreciation Day.” To show our appreciation for Military Spouses, the Eagle is featuring stories from three spouses who live on Fort Belvoir. 

The spouses were asked to describe one of their toughest times or most challenging moment as a military spouse, and how they met the challenge. 

Not every spouse’s tough time or challenge is the same. Not every spouse’s journey follows the same path, but in the end, they all are “Heroes on the Homefront.”

 Alisa Kranz – Married to Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kristofer Kranz for 12 years, with 3 children; Halee, 23; Levi, 18; and in the process of adopting Rylan, 17 months.

Their son, Levi, was diagnosed with leukemia only months after they were married and while her husband was deployed.

“He’s been fighting leukemia for 12 years. It returned twice since the initial fight,” Kranz said. “The Marine Corps has been amazing to our family. I have been able to overcome this with amazing support for other military wives, friends and family,” she added. She said the Semper Fi Fund and the Fisher House have been a great support for her family during Levi’s battle.

“I can’t express our gratitude enough for them,” she said.

Through all the Kranz’s struggles, Alisa says she has cherished every moment and pushed on for her family.

“It’s hard work but if you love your spouse, it’s worth every moment,” she said. “Your hardships can bring you closer, if you keep an open line of communication with one another.”

 Marina Rees - Married to Pfc. Austin Rees for 9 months

 Military life has been a struggle, she said.

“I think moving so far away from my life back home was really difficult. It all happened really fast,” she said. “I felt lonely and was bored constantly. It took me a long time to feel like I had any kind of purpose here.”

Getting involved in something is one of the hardest things to do, she said, but it is essential to push on when her Soldier has to be away.

“I got a job, made some friends and things really turned around,” Rees said. “If there is one piece of advice I can give, it’s to utilize the spouse support groups. They have a plethora of knowledge and they’re very helpful when you’re first moving to a new area.”

Being alone in a large area like this means having to rely on those who have gone through similar situations and, according to Rees, the unseen heroes are the military spouses who try to help one another, just because. “I’ve seen so much hospitality and care come from military spouses in this area.”

 Stephanie Schroeder-Graham - Married to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Graham for 10 years, with 1 child; Madysen, 6.

According to Schroeder-Graham, during her marriage, they have moved several times, on and off post, sold a house and had a daughter, 6 year-old, Madysen.

“For the first two years of her life, she did not know her dad,” she said. “But, she is now a full-on daddy’s girl.” “Right now, he is deployed again and it has been tough, but we are getting through it,” she said.

Schroeder-Graham has had to work from home due to a condition known as fibromyalgia, which is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and sleep, memory and mood issues. She had to quit her job after the pain became too much for her.

“Since then I have owned several business that I am running from home,” she said. As well as running her own business she is a garrison command representative for River and George Washington villages.

“Build your tribe,’ she said. “Getting to know people is hard, but you need people in your life to help push on during the deployments and to provide help.”