Thursday, September 29, 2005

More on "The Life of a Military Wife"

As anyone following the thread on Kyra's letter can see, that post generated by far the most activity on bluechristian we've had to date. I'd never have guessed it would be that letter, rather than some of the (to me) far more inflammatory stuff posted here, to cause such a ruckus.

That said, I would like to ask some of the military wives -- regardless of political frame or opinion about the Iraq war -- to discuss some issues related to military life.

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?

2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?

4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?

There are doubtless other questions that I, as a civilian, cannot even articulate. At any rate, I'd like to hear what people have to say. And please do be kind to one another, esp. as there will likely be some serious differences of opinion on some of this.

(And I hope I'm not sorry I asked! [Nervous chuckle....])

13 comments:

ArmyArtilleryWife said...

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?

After DH had to spend a year away from me during training, he actually became sweeter, gentler, and more considerate!

I think the military (and any other stressor, including other jobs that require long hours and/or frequent absences) can expose instability that already exists but it doesn't really create it.

People who constantly blame outside factors are not going to improve their lives.

Factors that expose instability include: long hours for certain assignments, time away from home, stress that is probably higher than many professions, taking over your life (always on call, it is all you can talk about), everyone knows your business and gossip can start

Factors that help patch up instability: free couples retreats, family-oriented "environment," available counseling, free parenting and marriage classes on post, family readiness groups when done properly.

Also, theoretically the Army says it is the soldier's job to take care of his (or her) family. Tha has worked in our unit. If a soldier is not providing for his family (making sure they have available cash, transportation), then the command can and in this case does step in.

2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?

I think they are more aggressive than civilian authorities.

In fact, if he is convicted, he can't carry a weapon and therefore can no longer be in the Army--which then, unfortunately, raises some spousal and child support issues. It is so complex.

I can only speak to general policy and then specifically to our unit...but I can tell you that we are constantly on the look out for all types of abuse--not just physical. When we spot it, we deal with it.

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?


DH deploys in December.

We have two friend-couples in which the husbands got back in April and they are doing very well.

I expect that there will be some bumps, but I know how DH has dealt with some extreme trauma before and I am confident this is something we will be able to work through.

4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military?

N/A

rachel said...

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?
That really depends on your relationship. Obviously it isn't easy if your husband is gone quite often. Navy wives are without their husbands 6 to 8 months every 2 years (at the least) unless they're lucky enough to get shore duty for a bit.
Most military wives I've met and that's a lot in 20 years got married in/right out of high school and started having babies shortly after. They were babies themselves. This is one reason a lot of military marriages end in divorce.

2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?
How IS it handled or how SHOULD it be handled. That all depends on the soldier's/sailor's/airman's First Sgt. A lot of times it is swept under the carpet (just like it is out there in civilian life). If one doesn't get the response needed by the First Sgt. then carry your behind to the next level. Go to the Base Commander if need be (or his wife!)
Every case I've seen on the bases I've been on start with the abuser being arrested... how it's handled after that depends on the aggressiveness of the abused.

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?
Not me personally, my sister who spent the last 1.5 years in Iraq is now going through a divorce. Her husband went through severe anxiety when she was gone and they haven't been able to work it out. 11 years of marriage for them.


4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?
We've managed to stay together. We have our up and down moments but 99.9% of the time we're great. We also haven't jumped in to having babies and manage our money just fine. The reason I bring up that is because the 2 top reasons of arguments/divorce are money and children.
The many couples I see divorce usually don't have a problem with the military. I've never seen the military intervene but I have seen them give airmen time off work or a light work load because of any mental stress. That's the Air Force. I can't speak for the other services. They're more careful on this base as we had a rash of suicides last year.

Being Made said...

1. How does life in the military help or hinder military stability?

In all honesty, I feel it does both. Is it hard to be away from my husband for months at a time, worried about him becasue he has a dangerous job? Yes. Is it hard when he works 12-14 hour shifts regularly and so even when he's home my daughter and I don't get to see him much, yes.

But at the same time, as a result of knowing that time is always limited I find that we REALLY live when we're together. We try not to let petty things get in the way of our relationship. We don't leave things unsaid. We cherish each other more fully knowing that tomorrow he could be called to deploy.

And when he is gone, I feel just as married. I love him just as strongly. I feel that I am WITH HIM even when he is 'out there.'

I agree with what was said above. The stressors involved with being a military family might bring out problems that are already there, and even inflame them, but it isn't usually a cause.

2. The abuse issue:

I don't feel fully equipped to speak to this, not having dealt personally with the situation myself, or with anyone I knew very well. I do know that there are job-related repurcussions when domestic violence is known to be part of someone's history.

Incidentally, I thought it was interesting that this was a question that you asked, and I wonder why. Is it a common notion that domestic violence is the norm for military families?

I really can't speak to the other two issues, as we are only in our first deployment, and I haven't experienced a divorce.

Your questions feel weighted to me. I don't mean that as a criticism, just an observation. When you mentioned an extension of the discussion of Kyra's letter, I expected that you might be looking for people to be able to tell their stories, good and bad. This seems to lean more towards the side of, "What about you? Did you have a bad experience?"

Being Made said...

Oh and one more thought--

Why would it be the military's responsibility necessarily to intervene in the case of a possible divorce? That isn't a common expectation of most workplaces is it?

Anonymous said...

1. I think the military only hinders your marriage if you ALLOW it to. For us, moving away from family right after getting married was such a good thing because we learned to live together as a couple and work things out as a couple on our own. We are close to retirement and not once has the word "divorce" ever been uttered in our marriage! IMO, if you have a strong marriage to begin with it just gets stronger. If you have a strained relationship, then of course there are a lot of factors that can tear it apart. I still don't think that can be blamed on the military. This is an all volunteer military so hopefully no one went into it totally blind thinking there would never be separations or hardships of one kind or another.

2. I can only speak for how my husband has handled these issues (he's not an MP), but I know that he's always taken any complaint seriously and in order to err on the side of caution takes the wifes word for things at first (by that I mean he doesn't just discount what they say, he takes steps to be sure that the family is offered the help needed. He can only do so much. If a wife cries abuse and then turns right around and drops charges or changes her story, etc there's not much he can do. I think the military as a whole takes it seriously. I've never been in a unit that has tried to ignore things like that happening. And in all these years I've only seen it happen firsthand once (not our unit). I did what I could to point the wife in the right direction.

3. My husband has served in combat and our marriage has suffered no ill effects from it whatsoever.

4. Divorce is not something we've ever discussed.

Anonymous said...

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?
No where in the civlian sector do you see as much involvement in an individual's personal life than in the Army. A poor example, but when spousal abuse happens in the civilian world, the abuser's employer could care less provided it does not affect his/her job performance. When this happens in the military world, the commanders and first sgt's step in and get the soldier/airman/marine/seaman whathaveyou help.

Rarely in the civilian world do you have an employer who will care that the work hours are hell on your marriage.

Being apart from each other helps us to explore our individual selves. I have become more self-sufficient as an Army wife than I even was as a single person.



2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?
I think I addressed this above, I guess I should have read all four questions before responding. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but my husband has been a First SGT, I can tell you first hand that they DO intervene. They do separate the couple, they get them help. They do a hell of a lot more than a civilian employer would do.

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?
n/a My husband is retired and has not served in combat (does that mean all of my responses will be disregarded? or were they already disregarded when I revealed that my husband is/was a Senior NCO?

4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?
n/a My marraige is MY business. If it's failing, it's MY responsiblity to get it back on track.

Jon Trott said...

"Being Made" challenged me on a few of my preconceptions / biases. (For the record, I do have some! Wink, wink!) Here's a couple snips from what she said that I'll try to reply to:

First:
"I thought it was interesting that this [question about spousal abuse] was a question that you asked, and I wonder why. Is it a common notion that domestic violence is the norm for military families?"

Absolutely NOT the "norm"! But there is some perception by me that the percentages might (underscore "might") be higher due to the higher levels of stress and/or required violence on the field of war; this idea was perhaps fueled by a highly publicized set of murders a while back at one of the bases (I'm so sorry I don't recall which one) after soldiers returned from combat. But again, NOT the "norm." I have no thought that there's a drastic difference in military vs. non-military spousal abuse.

"Why would it be the military's responsibility necessarily to intervene in the case of a possible divorce? That isn't a common expectation of most workplaces is it?"

My own thought would be no, it isn't common in most workplaces. But the military isn't most workplaces. Your life and limb are at risk, and the job tends to have an almost communal feel to it (I'm assuming these things, so please forgive my ignorance if they aren't so). That is, when you are part of the military, it is like joining an institution with its own "vibe," its own way of doing things, its own code of conduct. If I can use a homely analogy (am I digging myself in deeper or what, hahahaha!), I would suggest how the Catholic Church has its priesthood is somewhat analogous to what soldiers and their families go through? You tell me.

And thanks for taking the time, by the way.

airforcewife said...

1. I think armyartillerywife articulated this very well. In our family, our marriage (even though we were married very young and had our first child at 17) was always very strong. For me, actually seeing my husband making changes in the world just adds to how much I care about him. For him, watching me able to handle things at home for him to come to after months of being shot at is a relief and a morale boost.

We have moved seven times since 1998 (once a year) because hubby's job is so rare. We happen to like the moving around, and we view it as a way to see the world. We don't want to live this way forever, but until we hit 20 it doesn't bother us in the least.

Our kids have had life experiences far out of our socio-economic group because we've made it a point to experience life where we are, not where we wish it were.

2. During both Army time and Air Force time I can speak to personally seeing people dealt with very harshly for intimations of abuse. In some ways it is stacked against the servicemember, because if it is a he said/she said situation they will invariably choose to believe her.

The military is one of the few places where adultery is punished by UCMJ. And punish it they do. However, a spouse who cheats on her husband cannot be charged under UCMJ and so is not subject to the same punishment.

3. My husband served on the Iraq Survey Group while in Iraq. He came under hostile fire many times and earned the Bronze Star while there. When he came home, he was so happy that we were there, so loving toward us, and so eager to be a part of our family that one of the first things he did was to change my son's poo diaper and stay up all night with him.

We had to realize that during the times we have been apart, we both changed and grew. Luckily we kept in touch through letter and morale calls almost constantly (we kept all our letters and they fill a box sized tupperware container) so that the transition was much easier. And, above all, I had to let myself hang back a little and take his clues as to what he needed.

Things were never perfect, but perfect would be boring. No marriage lasts without work, and we do work at it.


4. Obviously, we are not divorced. However, many many military families are. After observing many divorces, I truly believe that a military career will enhance a very strong marriage through trials, but it can shatter a marriage that does not have a solid foundation. Being married young worked for us, but it does not work for everyone.

At the first sign of divorce in every situation we've ever been in, the detachment/company/flight has gotten involved with the commander mandating family counseling and speaking to each member themselves.

I can't stress enough that any life, any where, any time is what you make of it. There are hard days when I am a screaming harpy. But there are far more good days because whatever there is in my life that I can't control (like deployment dates, the weather, a base I don't like), I CAN and DO control my attitude and reaction towards it. And somehow, when I do that, things seem to get better.

KarmaPolice said...

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?

In my own experience, it has had a negative affect on my marriage. It can be frustrating to be someone who always had a job and helped earn the money and to not be able to do so here. I love working and it seems to unite my husband and I in the same cause, to support our family together. I can't afford to have a job right now because my paychecks would go to paying daycare and gas which is just not worth it.
In our last duty station, my husband had a great unit. They cared about family and commended him for a job well done. Here at Bliss, it is very different. When my husband graduated from pldc at the top of his class, his platoon sgt said to him, "I only sent you to pldc to watch you fail. So, you did well and I was wrong. But don't worry, Muchmore. I'm watching you and you will fuck up eventually." This is the kind of stuff the guys in his unit deal with every day. It has turned my husband into a very quiet and frustrated person. When he complains about things like this, he is told it will be dealt with and then it continues. He has given up hope that things will change and just wants to leave this unit. Twice since we have been here, soldiers from his unit have attempted suicide. I see that as a warning sign that changes must be made in the morale of these soldiers and in the quality of their lives.
It can be very frustrating as a wife to know that you and your family never come first. Your spouse is married to the army and you know it. He does go away a lot and you get used to some things, but others are harder to adjust to. I can deal with field problems and all that craziness because after six years, I've gotten used to it. I had a harder time with Iraq. I stressed out so badly that I miscarried a twin at six months and had to deliver it stillborn with my living child. I blame myself, not the army. It was a very scary time for everyone. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat without throwing up and I was a wreck.
Then, they come home and you are so excited. But with that comes a lot of wierd feelings I didn't know I would have. I had a hard time with adjusting to an extra person in the house. It was hard to watch him with the kids because I resented him for being gone. If he had to reprimand them, I would be secretly upset because I saw it as impatience. When he was great with the kids, I would feel like after raising them by myself for so long, how dare he come home and get all the attention while I, who sat through every bad dream with them, was put on the backburner like I didn't exist. I knew those feelings were wrong and I worked through them. But it wasn't something I had counted on. Now, I like it when he is gone for one reason. My house is far cleaner. There are no pt's slung on the back of the chair, no boot polish on my rug. We get into a far better routine with a lot less manipulation from the kids as they realize they are stuck with me.
I see things run smoother if I just adjust to everything and sit back. I tend to feel like another child, or the babysitter. But I get out a lot more and really only feel this way around my husband.

2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?

I'm not sure if I can answer this because I have not gone through it. I do know one woman who was beaten by her soldier and he was given a talking to. I remember when all the violence was going on at Ft. Bragg and that was ugly. More than physical violence, I know a lot of women who simply get tore up verbally by their husband's. Most of them explain that their husband's have gotten it in their head that this is how you deal with people. One guy told his wife he did it because after getting talked down to all day, he got frustrated and to put it simply, wanted to be mean to someone else. The wife was the onvious target. You certainly cannot talk to your superiors in such a manner, but you can exert your authority and direct your anger at your spouse. I see this an awful lot. As a matter of fact, I have friends call me on a daily basis upset over the new man they have living with them. One of my friends husband calls her a nigger.She asked him why he would dare call her that and his response was, "I dunno.... that's what my friends do." I say, GROW UP!
Another infamous circumstance I hear about all the time is the Korea factor as we call it. Husbands who go over to korea and develope relationships outside the marriage. I have even heard soldiers laugh and brag about how they wives back home and then wives in korea. They encourage each other to cheat by saying, 'man.... you're in KOREA. How would she find out??" I have heard this straight out of a soldiers mouth when we were stationed overseas and a certain soldiers wife was back stateside going to school. The army treats spouses like property and it is no wonder that the soldiers begin to see it that way, too.

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?

My biggest trauma was the loss of a baby, but as I have said, I blame myself for not being strong enough to handle my husband being in Iraq at the start of the war. My biggest fear now, is that he is going back. I worry that one day, he will be put in the position to have to shoot a 13 year old weilding a gun in order to save himself and the men around him. Naturally, I worry about him dying in a war I don't agree with. He has changed a lot but I think it is more the lifestyle on a whole than simply the time spent in Iraq.He was disgusted when he got back. Sickened with what he saw. But he has shut himself off emotionally it seems and that may be why.

4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?

I am not divorced. I am currently being seen off post and have one more session of marriage counseling before we don't get any more. The military wouldn't help us when we called for the counseling. They said they would see him or me individually, but not for couple's counseling. We contacted an organization called The Army Onesource and they were wonderful enough to pay for six sessions for us. However, I am not sure marriages can be fixed with six sessions.
At one point, we decided it would be best to separate for a while. We asked if my husband could stay in the barracks for a while so that we could figure things out. We were told, no and that they would only do it if we were legally divorcing. So, we decided that if we get reassigned to Tampa where we are from, he will go to stay with his dad for a bit and see if we can work this all out. No one other than army one source would help us. We saw the chaplain who spent every session trying to convert us. He also sat and offered up only facts that he saw such as my husband is a cheating bastard who doesn't love me anymore because I got fat after my pregnancy. He never offered up anything we could do ourselves to help us. We were looking for exercises that we could do together to strengthen our relationship and instead, our chaplain told us to just call it quits.

KaSs said...

I can only answer one question. and that is question one.. the military does both.

the military has helped out our life because we are more stable than we were before the military so we were able to love and get married.. but it has also caused some conflict in our marriage.. most of which was done durring my husbands year tour in korea.. i wont get into details but needless to say i didn't know there was a problem until a week before my husband was due back from korea, and my world was turned upside down.. and with all that happend almost a year ago we both have realized what we have with eachother and what would have been lost.

i love my husband to death. and some ask WHY am i still with him the only answer i can give them is that i love him.. and i will NOT let THAT destroy our life together. althought the last year has been rough and still has its bumps into i can forgive the crap that happend but i cant not FORGET. I will never forget.. and its hard to let go of everything.

and i guess this post can also go along with question #4.. although we never divorced it was an ALMOST.. and I swear i would probably be insane right now had i actually lost my love, my life.. My husband is my world.. and until death do us part

Madame Butterfly said...

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?

I don't think military life is any rougher on a marriage than in the civilian sector. You are more liable to hear about it because you are in a small circle of relationships, hence it seems more prevalent. I firmly believe if a marriage is weak to begin with, then regardless of the military a couple is less likely to survive. It's a matter of the catalyst that breaks it.

2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?

It depends on the character of the leadership in the chain of command. I've seen some units that were strict about investigating such charges, and others that didn't care. Regardless, just like in the civilian sector, the victim still has to call the police (or MP's). If the spouse won't, then really there is nothing anyone else can do. It's just with the military, once the MP's are brought in, then the supervisor and chain of command have many options to deal with the problem, where as in the civilian world, supervisors have very little involvement.

3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?

Yes. My husband hates flies with a passion. But other than that, (and he was a combat medic in the first Gulf War), no.

4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?

Yes, I've had one divorce. Not because of the military, but because my first husband had some issues regarding my mother that were completely inappropriate. Back then, my chain of command counseled me as to whether I was sure I wanted to get married, as he was Navy, and I was Army. Our chances of getting stationed at the same post were slim and none. I was stubborn, married the ass anyway. Learned what a creep he was, and left him. My chain of command figured I was better off, but offered help. Didn't need it.

My current husband of 8 years was tdy all the time. Now that he's out, he's gone even more. I accept it. We have our problems, but we also work those out. So, now that we are civilians, and his job is even more demanding, again, the strength of a marriage is not dependent on job circumstances. It's dependent on the couple.

And I can vouch that the military pays for more than 6 sessions of marital counseling. Your counselor has to be willing to write up the paperwork and justify further counseling. Been there, done that.

ArmyArtilleryWife said...

It depends on the character of the leadership in the chain of command. I've seen some units that were strict about investigating such charges, and others that didn't care. Regardless, just like in the civilian sector, the victim still has to call the police (or MP's). If the spouse won't, then really there is nothing anyone else can do.

That's not entirely the case.

In both the military and the civilian world, others can call the police/MPs off post or on. (think domestic disturbance calls--even a neighbor can call that in)

As in many states in the United States, the Army can also move ahead with prosecution and other punishments even if the spouse does not wish to prosecute.

If command knows about the abusive situation and does not report, that is subject to SERIOUS punishment in the military.

Anonymous said...

1. How does life in the military help and/or hinder marital stability?

I don't think marital stability has anything to do with the military. It all depends on the relationship and the two people involved. If the relationship is not solid and communication is lacking, the marriage will suffer regardless if he's enlisted in the military, a butcher, a baker or a garbage truck driver.

When I met my husband, he had been in the Navy for three years. He was very young (21), was only an E4 and lived ON the ship. He didn't know anything about married life and neither did I but we did a lot of talking beforehand about what we wanted out of life, what to expect from life in the military, what we would expect from each other, etc. We talked about what we could deal with and what we couldn't. We knew there would be long hours, deployments, underways, three section duty, missed birthdays and anniversaries and we went into it believing that we could either let that crap knock us down or we could rise above it... but no matter what, the success of our marriage was up to US.

The only thing that changes by being in the military is that military couples/families need to always, always, always remember that we don't have the luxury of taking each other or time with each other for granted.


2. How does the issue of spousal abuse get handled in the military? Do you think authorities there are aggressive about addressing abuse of wives (or husbands) married to a soldier serving in the U. S. Armed Forces?

I can't really answer this because I've never experienced anything near spousal abuse and have never met anyone who had. My first thought was "Why is this being asked? Is this common in the military??" but I see that question has already been addressed.


3. For any wives / husbands whose spouses are or have served in combat, has your marriage suffered minor or major trauma as a result of that spouse's experiences in war?

Again, this does not apply to me... yet.


4. Have any of you experienced a divorce while in the military? Did the military try to intervene before, during, or after the divorce in any way? Did being part of the military help lead to divorce, and if so, why?

Again, this does not apply to me personally. There is one guy in my husband's command currently going through a divorce but I don't think the military has intervened in any way, other than to arrange for his wife's belongings to be shipped back to the States. I don't think their break up had anything to do with the military... I think it was just a case of losing interest in the person.


--------------------------
Now, I know you didn't ask for this but I read the original post and felt like this would be a good place to add my two cents about Navy Wife Life.

Housing: My house is beautiful. I love everything about it. Huge yard, quiet neighborhood, new full size appliances, new AC and heater, huge kitchen, granite counter tops, lots of windows, lots of storage room, a private carport, and pretty ceramic red roof tiles. Every other month I get a notice on my door letting me know when to expect maintenance workers. They are constantly checking the AC, water heater, vents, etc. I could not ask for anything more. Now, with that said, I've SEEN the housing in GL and oh.my.god. what a facking dump! BUT, really, if you're stateside, take the BAH and move off base. We lived off base in VA and were able to pay our rent and utility bills with BAH alone.

Medical Care: While I did not get free dental care in the States, I receive it now overseas and even though I'm terrified of the dentist's chair, I have to admit that we have awesome dentists here. I cried, in fear, before my last cleaning even started!, and the tech not only put on some soothing music but he called my husband in to hold my hand and made sure to tell me every.single.thing. he did before hand to help calm my nerves. While in the States I had to be admitted to the Naval Hospital (via the ER) and could not have asked for nicer doctors. It was my first time having surgery and they did everything imaginable to help me relax and get me well again... including giving me my own room so that my husband could stay there with me. Best of all, it was all FREE.

To continue, I have never had a problem scheduling an appointment to see the doctor OR dentist. Right now there are no female gyno's stationed here so I'm intentionally holding out on getting my annual exam done but that is because of MY choice, not the military's.

Finances: My husband is an E5, we have no children, and so we don't get paid a whole helluva lot... BUT... we are NOT poor. We don't have any bills (other than the car pmt, ins. and phone), just took a two week vacation to London, Paris and Rome and last year we bought a brand new 2004 BMW X3 through a FABULOUS program offered only to military personnel overseas. We literally ordered our car from the factory and got huge discounts... just because we are military. How freaking awesome is that?! Now, I know of people who are having problems financially but I think that as long as you live within your means, it is possible to live well on a military paycheck. Not easy... but possible. (I have not worked since we got married, btw.)

The original poster said that "Everyone lives paycheck to paycheck." This is so not accurate!! SOME people live paycheck to paycheck... but not all of us. My MIL (ex-Marine) was able to make it through 20 years on an enlisted paycheck (FIL was AF and Army) and somehow managed to buy a four bedroom house in five years. She paid cash for a new car last year... and she never worked after marrying my FIL. Like I said, not easy, but possible!!

Politics: Just for the record, I would like to say that I'm a democrat and I am from Texas. Have hope!! There are more liberal minded, "intelligent thinkers" in the military than you might think. We're there. I promise. You just have to look. :) My husband came from a very long line of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines... he joined because he felt it was his duty, not for the benefits or signing bonus. He joined knowing he was never going to get rich and knowing that there would be times when he was ordered to do something he did not believe in. THAT IS WHY OUR MILITARY SHOULD BE RESPECTED. THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM HEROES.

Being a democrat, with a republican president, in a country at war for reasons that he doesn't agree with is something that HAS to be kept seperate from the job. My husband was telling me a few days ago about some guys (liberals who did not believe in the Iraq War) that were anxious about going BACK to Iraq... and I asked how they could want to go back if they didn't believe we were there for the right reasons... he said, "because that is where they get to do what they have trained all these years for"... I thought it could NOT possibly be that simple, but it is. There HAS to be a fine line between your personal beliefs and doing the job you signed up AND TRAINED to do. They have to be kept seperate, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy trying to justify everything.

Adultery: I have heard sooooooooo many stories of guys cheating while on deployment but I've probably heard just as many about the wives back home cheating. I don't think it has anything to do with the military. It could be ANY job that allows the person the opportunity for a sure thing without the other finding out. If someone is a cheater, they're going to do it whether they're in the military or not. The military does not make someone cheat... they were already pieces of shit before they enlisted.

Complaints: Hmm... my complaints about the military are superficial.
I think we're wasting too much time, money and energy on the topic of changing/updating the uniforms.

I think the gov't should stop trying to revise the pay system. It's hard enough to learn to understand the LES as it is... and
I think it's stupid to even suggest skimping on the retirement pay in exchange for getting more pay now. Screwing with retirement savings is just wrong.

I think there should be more emphasis on PT and keeping physically fit. I know a lot of people are bitching and complaining about it, but really, if something happens to you and your only chance of survival is the guy next to you, you can't tell me you would pick the fat, out of shape guy who gets waivers for the PRT over the guy who keeps himself in good condition!

Other than that, I'm very happy being a Navy Wife. Sure there are days when I get pissed off because some schmuck is giving my husband a hard time or not fully appreciating what he does, etc. but I would feel that way if he were a garbage truck driver too... the job is irrelevant in that respect. lol

Oh yeah, one more thing... for the sake of your mental health, don't put all of your eggs in one basket. There are A LOT of really great military wives out there, but having friends that live in the civilian world is good too. Sometimes with only mil wives around, it's easy to get sucked into depression and an unhealthy attitude... having the civilians around will help to take some of the emphasis off the military and it gets easier to see that we ALL have the same problems... the landlord is a jerk, the HMO sucks, I'm broke again, W pisses me off, etc. etc. etc.

((HUGS)) all around.