By the late 1970s more wives of submarine crew members than ever before
held dual jobsmaintaining the household and working outside their homes,
often in professional careers. Although women never served aboard American
submarines, conventional or nuclear, they had provided many of the volunteer
services that formed the framework of military communities. That role
became less common as other demands on their time increased. Whether a
military wife worked at home, as a community volunteer, or at a paying
job, she and her children were called "dependents."
"Making a Home in The Navy", 31 July 1980
Navy Family Support Program has prepared this handbook because the Navy
feels that its families are important." (Foreword to the book). By 1980,
the Navy had established Family Service Centers to provide assistance
that was formerly left to unofficial support groups. Family Service programs
expanded to include help with health, finances, employment, and special
education, as well as intervention in cases of spousal abuse or problems
with drug and alcohol abuse.
Telephone trees run by volunteers, such as this 1970 mimeographed list
from the submarine community at Groton, Connecticut, provided a direct
open line among submarine wives. The phone trees were part of the network
that brought news of absent husbands and fathers and provided a support
system for separated family members. Submarine wives formed an especially
close community. The women relied on each other when the men were awayand
essentially unreachablefor weeks or months at a time, completely
unable to communicate with their families. When fathers were away, mothers
usually assumed head of household duties. But they were expected to relinquish
that role upon their husbands' return, often a source of confusion and
friction for parents and children alike.
Grocery Bag: "Navy Wives. (It's the Toughest Job in the Navy)"
attract, train, and retain people in the all-volunteer military with skills
in modern technology, the armed forces by the mid-1970s began to acknowledge
the contributions of spouses and families to the military mission. These
efforts included slogans on commissary shopping bags, as well as more
Panel Exhibit Board
from Decommissioning Ceremony for Trepang
Wives and children often participated in the formal occasions associated
with the boats on which their husbands and fathers served. Here is one
of ten panels from an exhibit prepared by the wives of the crew for the
decommissioning ceremony of USS Trepang (SSN-674).
Early 1980s Hot
Family members hold a hot dog sale to raise money for scholarships.
At this 1967 baby shower in New London, Connecticut, most of the attendees
tried to look as pregnant as the honoree.