I have been meaning to write about this for the last three weeks, but so much has been going on and it just hasn't been a priority. So, I figured that I would write about it tonight, while my sweet Hubby lies next to me sleeping and I am feeling unable to sleep. I do believe I have mentioned in the past that I am an Army Reservist soldier just like my Hubby. He joined in 2001 or 2002; I joined after a lot of painful consideration in Aug 2005. When I first started dating him I was terrified of the idea of him joining the Army. I had not grown up with an overly enthusiastic view of soldiers, my Grandfather did not leave my mother with a happy memory of that and while my family is grateful for what soldiers do it was never considered in any of our best interest to be directly involved. So I grew up with a very poor idea of soldiers and I assumed most were destined to leave their wives and family, to cheat, etc. It was cause for a lot of arguments between me and my Hubby, who was just boyfriend at the time. I soon realized that no matter what I said or thought he was going to do it. It was rough for us while he was in BCT & AIT (for those of you who are unfamiliar with Military lingo those stand for Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training), it was rough being apart for 6 months and I admit I was less of a strong support for him. I loved and was absolutely crazy about him, but I was desperate to keep our lives going at home trying to plan a wedding and looking at apartments. It didn't go so well in his eyes and we fought a lot while he was gone, even barely speaking to each other in the end, but once he was home we worked things out again.
I still struggled with his love and devotion to the Army. He grew up the son of an Army Infantry man and so he felt strongly about what he was doing. While it was practically given to him in vitro, for me it was a lot harder to come by. I was told by a friend that 'it takes a special kind of woman to be married to a soldier and I was not that kind of woman.' Kind of harsh, but at the time it was true. I wasn't ready for such a life, but I couldn't change that I loved my soldier. After a matter of time, I came to accept the role the Army played in his life and what it could inevitably come to play in mine. It wasn't easy and I suppose in truth it still isn't, but I accept that and work through it. I imagine we all do.
A few weeks before my 20th birthday, I went with him to his Unit's drill hall where he needed to meet with the retention NCO there. This guy had been at one point a very successful recruiter and Christopher warned me before we got there that he'd try to talk me into it. I of course laughed him off. I could accept my future husband as a soldier and the life that it would entail, but me…that was laughable. I told him not to worry that he couldn't convince me to join. He kind of shrugged and we went. I should have bit my tongue and boy do we still laugh at this story today. The moment I walked in there I had no chance of escaping, because to say this guy was good is an understatement. By the time I left I was seriously considering joining. But I still was thinking with my heart full of love, because rather than taking the opportunity to do something I would be good at like journalism or civil affairs, I wanted to be near Christopher and so I joined as a 92F, a refueler.
I talked to my Dad first before I went to enlist, because I knew my Mom would be unhappy with my decision and I figured I'd get the best support from him. I think I let him down that day, it wasn't what he'd imagined for me, his oldest daughter, but he seemed to accept that my mind was made up. He warned me that my Mom would be less than thrilled and would try to talk me out of it. She did try, but she too realized that I had made up my mind. They have been a lot more supportive over the years since I joined, but I know that they hate seeing me struggle and some of the problems that have been caused by being a soldier, but I chose this life and all that it contains. So, I began the process on my 20th birthday, but due to having had major ankle reconstruction a couple years before I had to be medically checked out and Okayed. So, I did the whole MEPS thing and got checked out by a Military approved Doc before I could sign anything. I did get the okay, but apparently it made me have a 3 on my PULES for lower body (it's only been within the last 4 yrs. that I have found this out.) I officially enlisted on Aug 4th, 2005 and shipped for Basic somewhere around the 24th of the same month. I got permission to hold off those few weeks so I could go on a vacation with my family.
I loved Basic and loved AIT. I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of. I got in shape and loved how it felt. Sadly, no one was able to come see me graduate and I was taken in by two different LDS friends' families for Family Day and Graduation Day. I was honored and blessed to be so welcomed, like I was their own daughter for those two days. If I could tell them now how much it meant to me, I would. They made those two days bearable. I had been hoping that Christopher would show up last minute and take part in my experience, but things had become complicated between us once again while I was at training this time. He was trying to figure out who he was without me and what he wanted. At the time I couldn't understand what was going, perhaps it was the same as he felt during his training. Anyway, after nearly six months of training I returned home a new and different person. I loved it.
We got married just a few short months after I had returned from training (after some rather rocky moments for us) and just before he left the states to go serve his Tour of Duty in Iraq. We spent the entire first year of our marriage minus the first four days and the two weeks of R&R apart. I rather enjoyed my time in my Unit and for a while I was one of the only females in our company who could successful complete my PT test, but eventually as it seems is common in Reserve units I found I wasn't in enough shape to pass everything. I could pass my run just fine and still could max out my pushups, but sit ups became too difficult for me (they are even harder now after three kids ;)) I also had started having issues when we'd go out in the field, I was often a heat casualty and was once even a cold weather casualty. My Hubby got home and we enjoyed about 7 months' worth of drilling together. There were things we liked about it, but things that we hated. Our Unit insisted that we pretend we weren't married. I hated that! He and I were quite proficient with being professional while in uniform, but it offended people that were a married couple in the same unit. Grrr on those who have to make problems for everyone.
I got pregnant that Aug and found that I had to make a choice about my military career. I was first told it would be in my best interest to be discharged from the Army due to my pregnancy and health issues by a commander I didn't (and still don't) care for. We seriously took it into consideration and had in fact decided that it would be best for us, but by the time we returned from lunch I was informed that that was no longer an option. Therefore I should go into the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserve) and sit there until I was done with my pregnancy, this we did decide to do with the understanding from the commander that nothing bad would come of me going into IRR early. Though I did get pregnant again when Aidan was five months old and prevented me from returning, not to mention after a very hard pregnancy with Aidan and the damage it had done to my body I wasn't too keen on coming back. Of course we got pregnant again about a year after Aislynn was born and it just seemed like the best idea to remain in IRR until my contract ended, but during this time the Army decided to try and recoup my enlistment bonus. Which we fought hard against for three and a half years. It's all rather ridiculous if you ask me, especially since we had been told that there would be no repercussions for going into the IRR.
As of the last few months, we have been in debate about me returning to the Army to complete my contract. There is the bonus of having the debt against me disappear, but after much thought, prayer, etc. I decided that it was truly what I wanted. I missed being a soldier, while I was in training I was the top of my classes and I loved telling people when I came home that I was a soldier. I missed the social interaction. I just missed it. Enough leadership change had occurred in my time in IRR that we hoped that most of my issues would be greatly relieved. If I extended my contract to cover the time I was in IRR then I could get my school benefits back, my GI Bill, my kicker, bonus, etc. A chance to finish my schooling at no cost to me. The extra money isn't a bad thing either, especially with my Hubby's hours being chopped. I felt strongly that this was what I needed to do and we both agreed. So three weeks ago today I signed the paperwork that would bring me back into the Army. I'm hoping to reclass once I have my orders to a 42A, which is a paperwork position (I don't honestly know its name). I have done lots of paperwork and filing for the Army in my time in, and I found it was something I was good at. I work hard and I can do it. I have fueled once in all my time in, which is crazy, but whatever.
I truly am anxious for my orders to come and be able to start drilling next month. Coming back does present some interesting complications. It requires us to find someone to care for our kids 2 to 3 days a month and the big long 3 weeks a year while we attend AT (Annual Training). We are hoping our families will be helpful to us in this complication. We also have to create a family care plan, which basically talks about who takes the kids should we both be deployed or should something happen to both of us. Fun stuff. I do have a chance of being deployed, although small. With my health problems I may never deploy, but should they call me up I will do my duty. I knew what I was signing up for when I signed that dotted line. It won't be easy, but being a soldier and being married to one never is. But I chose it and I wouldn't change it for anything. ;)
So anyway that's what I needed to tell you all. You probably are bored to tears, but I feel I needed to get it all out. What better place than my MilSpouse blog? A place where everyone understands and is supportive. I don't know what I'd do without all of you and your support. So anyway here's to the next like 6 yrs! I hope I can be a good soldier and have people respect me as one, as they do my Husband. Well goodnight all!