The Latinx and Hispanic community like many other groups face many challenges. Latinx and Hispanic military spouses in particular face a range of issues that can make their experience even more difficult through military lifestyle.
For many the main barrier is the language, not all military spouses speak English and this can create a lot of issues and miscommunication. I think many can agree that the resources for non-English speakers are lacking and many travel from different countries and U.S territories without proper guidance on what is to come and the proper insights on how to learn the language. Not all duty stations offer English classes where they can learn or practice, so this is an added burden to their lives since for many out-of-pocket costs and registering for English classes is something they must do.
Cultural isolation can be very tough as well, most Latinx and Hispanic families are raised within very tight family circles where the relationship and bond with family of all ages is extremely important. Not having family around to feel supported and share their culture with is very tough and can create a lot of mixed emotions within a military relationship.
Due to the constant moves we all know how tough it is to create relationships and community but now imagine having to find specific circles where you can be understood due to your native tongue and also accepted due to where you come from. This is something we don’t usually think about and most of the time do not pay attention to.
Finding jobs is also a touchy subject since as a whole military spouses struggle to find jobs due to moving all over. However, Latinx and Hispanic spouses also have to face workplace discrimination and language barriers as well.
What about deployments? Feeling alone and without support can bring on a lot of stress and like many spouses we all struggle with this. Imagine not having the proper resources to tackle deployment because you cannot understand the information being shared? Imagine not having a group of friends to count on because no one takes the time to learn from your culture and be patient as you try to speak English.
Medical care can also be a very dauting obstacle. Seeking care and finding a provider that can properly communicate with you can a blessing. And yes, I do know we all face obstacles through this lifestyle but I also know that everyone’s struggle is not the same.
If you are a Latinx military spouse reading this… here is how you can help. Speak up for the one’s others cannot understand, share any important resources and help explain if needed. If you are fluent in Spanish and can also speak English help the ones that need you to interpret. Create friendships, post on your community groups and meet other Spanish speakers to slowly build community. Gather around; share about your culture, your nationality, if you have kids have them meet other kids who can share their roots with, have the listen to the language.
How can you help if you are a non-Spanish speaker? Just be kind! Don’t make anyone feel out of place because in the end most of us are away from home to begin with. We are all away from our main support groups, families, friends, roots… Kindness goes a long way.
Plus, you never know how awesome someone’s cooking might be 😊