Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An Officer and his Specialist

 One thing I love dearly about the military is that while we all go through similar things
everyone has a unique story.
Like this AGR/NG, Officer/Enlisted couple. 
Follow more on this amazing couple's journey here.


Fraternization in the military is a big deal. There is a bold line drawn between the officer and enlisted which sometimes drives me crazy. In my opinion, it does not matter what rank you are, you are still a person, a human being that deserves respect for that exact reason. Private through General, I don't care who you are, you will have my respect and I expect the same in return. However, the military does not necessarily agree with my viewpoint, and as a Specialist, there is no reason for them to. 


From day one in basic training the Drill Sergeants beat into our heads that once you are in the Army, the rank on your chest dictates who you can hang out with, who you can date, and how you speak to another person. If you have a butter bar (Second Lieutenant), the pause button (Captain), butter spread (Major), all the way up to the night sky (Generals) on your chest, as an enlisted soldier I am required to stand at attention when being addressed and call you "sir or maam". Except in my household. My husband is a Captain, but in my home, I am the commander in chief.


So I am sure you are wondering with the Army's strict rules how a Specialist and a Captain end up married. When my husband Foster was deployed, we had been dating for about six months. I was depressed when he left. I needed something to take my mind off of the fact that the love of my life was half way across the world and I would not see him for a year. So I did what every other sane woman would do, I joined the Army National Guard. I enlisted as a Medic in April of 2008 and shipped for basic training in May. The timing was perfect! I would go to Basic and then AIT and would make it home the day before Thanksgiving, two weeks before Foster would return home from Iraq.  I think it is the one and only times the Army's timing worked for both of us. 

However, the Army scared the living crap out of me while I was in training. We received a briefing the first week of Basic explaining the rules against Officer and Enlisted relationships. They pretty much said that if you had a friend or significant other who was an officer, then we were required to end the relationship. I was devastated. I was terrified that I had made the worst decision in my life, because Foster and I were not married, so we were not protected under the regulation. With tears in my eyes, I knocked on the door of my "approachable Drill Sergeant" (there is always one in each company, they call them the "soft hat"). I sat down and explained my situation to him. I was unable to call Foster because he was in the sandbox, and we only made three phone calls in nine weeks. I was afraid that if the Cadre noticed his rank on the incoming or outgoing mail, that they would intercept it (which I now know is illegal), give me an article fifteen (major reprimand for violating policy), or worse, reprimand Foster and take his rank, discharge him, etc. 

Upon further evaluation of the regulation, my Drill Sergeant found that if the relationship existed prior to the second soldier enlisting, then the soldiers were exempt from disciplinary action from their chain of command. Also, if both soldiers are National Guard, which we are, and they met outside of uniform, the relationship is okay. However, the couple was required to either marry or end the relationship by the one year anniversary of the second soldier's enlistment. You can imagine my relief, but it was quickly followed by frustration. The Army was pretty much rushing us into marriage, which in my opinion is not healthy for any relationship.

When we returned home to our units, we explained the situation to our commanders and they were okay with it. Foster's commander was even present at our wedding in December of 2009. Foster is active duty National Guard (AGR), and I am still a one weekend a month, two weeks a year (Mday) soldier. 

Our dual status has definitely raised some funny situations and even some issues. Foster had to attend a meeting on my post on a weekend that I was drilling. He had given me the heads up, so I kept an eye out for him. As soon as I saw his truck pull up in the parking lot outside of my building, I avoided him like the plague. There was no way in HECK I would salute my own husband! He would never let me live it down. Just this weekend Foster had an exercise that my unit was supporting as the "mayor cell". As the mayor cell, we were responsible for making sure the everyday things were taken care of, the bathrooms were clean, the food was served, and ran the medical aid station. When my unit was taking volunteers, my First Sergeant asked if I would be interested. I said, "Heck no, Top, I cook and clean up after my husband everyday of the week, I refuse to do it in uniform too!" First Sergeant laughed at me and said he totally understood and would only volunteer me if they needed me. 

Thank God they got enough volunteers! Foster's guys always ask him if he pulls rank in the household. Other than  in teasing, he knows better, and there are even times that I correct him. He put his cover on in the hotel this morning as we were leaving and I said, "With all do respect, SIR, why is your cover on indoors?" With a smirk on my face, which was quickly followed by a smack on my behind from my ornery husband.

There has only been one real issue with our dual status. We found out we were pregnant last October, an engagement weekend baby. Foster is in a rapid response unit similar to a special forces unit. He has a very short amount of time to respond if called which raises and issue if I am off training or deployed. We were finishing up my discharge when we lost our daughter, Rosalynn, at 34w4d gestation, so this obstacle is not an issue as of right now, but could still pose and issue in the future.

Overall, we are very proud to both be serving our country. However, I have come to have a major appreciation for the military spouse. Being a soldier is easy in comparison to being the Army wife. Since I hold both positions, I have the requirements of the officer's wife as well. I help entertain his soldiers in our home from time to time, and they eat ALOT. I attend the balls, conferences, and Governor's luncheons on his arm. It is very strange to be in formation standing at attention when my Brigade commander is speaking to us one weekend and then drinking cocktails with her the next as Foster's wife.

Will I ever become an officer? I was planning on it originally, I was even a Cadet in ROTC for a while, but I am half way through with my contract, and Foster plans on making this his career. Instead I think I will just finish up my degree this year, go back to nursing school, hang up my boots when the time comes, and focus on being the supportive military wife, because I find more gratification from this rank in the Army than any star on my chest would ever give me.





17 comments:

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

Girl, your story made me want to laugh and cry! The pulling rank thing is hilarious. Its so neat to see how you guys make this work.

And I'm so sorry for the loss of your little girl. You're making her proud though by telling your family's story. Thank YOU and Foster for you incredible service to our country.

Reina said...

I loved this. Thank you so much for sharing! Can't wait to follow her blog!

Ashley said...

I laughed and cried while reading this post! I am so so sorry about the loss of your little girl. I know that she is proud of her Mommy and Daddy! I can tell what a strong woman you are through this post! Good luck in nursing school!

Mateya said...

What a neat story!

Jessica said...

wow, what a great story...thanks so much for sharing! And I am sorry about the loss of your little girl.

Travels With Uncle Sam said...

What an incredible modern and interesting story! (My husband is now retired from the military.) Wonderful how you make it work! I am sorry about the loss of your baby.

R said...

great post - loved the part where you corrected him - then got swatted :) sounds like something that would happen in our house! So sorry for the loss of your daughter, you have my condolences, and deepest admiration for continuing to do what you're doing. Good luck with nursing school and hanging up your boots when the time comes!

Radiant Readhead said...

thank you soooo much!

Julie the Army Wife said...

What a great story :) So sorry to hear about your loss :(

I bet you guys have fun joking about rank at home :)

Ash and Matt | A SoCal Story said...

What a great story! I laughed at the cover tease followed by the bum swat, and my heart ached for you at the loss of your daughter. I'm so sorry for your loss; I can't imagine how difficult that must be. Thank you for having the courage to share.

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

I absolutely loved this! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the loss of your baby girl. I have 3 angel babies of my own. I really really appreciated this though. Thank you again :)

chambanachik said...

Very interesting!

Sarah said...

Oh, what a fabulous post!!! I love, love, love your story!! If it were me, I'd pull the "all do respect, SIR" thing too. ;-) I love that you guys can joke about your rank. I think it's awesome that your units understand your situation and try not to make you uncomfortable too. =)

Radiant Readhead said...

we do have a lot of fun....tonight we are having an officer from my unit (we are saying foster invited her) and a sergeant from his unit (we are saying I invited him) lol....that way our chain of command cannot get us in trouble..the officer used to live with us while we were both in ROTC, and I helped get the sergeant a job with foster after being in the same unit with him for 2 years, now he has a great AGR position because of me...lol

Jen said...

I love reading this! Such a great story! :)

Marie said...

I loved this!

Goodnight moon said...

What a great story!!!!! I loved reading it!

I am soooo sorry for the loss of your daughter! My heart truely goes out to you!!!!