So, in January of 2003 it all became official (see, we’re gradually catching up). My husband filled out his application for OCS and got employers, friends, and professors to commit to writing his recommendations.
His physical was scheduled for later that month and, if all went well, he would be part of the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) by February.
DH (Dearest Husband) chose the DEP because he wanted to fulfill his commitment to his judge before entering the army.
I’m really happy that we had that time together for me to become more accustomed to the idea. Although I intellectually understood and admired his commitment to serving our country, I needed that time to “catch-up” emotionally. I don’t think I really believed it was all happening until he scheduled his local Board of Review appointment.
I guess there is a part of me that always believed this would all just go away. I remember when we invaded Afghanistan–DH and I were in a local pub when the news came over the television. I thought at the time, “Well at least he is not there.”
What would I do if he were? By the time DH went to his board of review, we had not yet invaded Iraq but it did seem inevitable. “Perhaps,” I thought, “this will all be over by the time he actually is ready to serve.” In retrospect, though, I knew that our military was committing to a longer operation.
Even greater than my concerns about specific operations were my fears about this total change in our lifestyle. I had never lived outside of the Northeast United States… would I manage, much less flourish, as the wife of an army officer?
Earlier I had been concerned about his ability as a relatively older recruit to adapt to the demands of Army life… was I, perhaps, too set in my ways to become the wife of an Army officer?
Although I was perhaps a little older than your average wife of a soon-to-be Basic Training Recruit, I also felt younger in some ways. I had gone from my parents’ house, to a college dorm, back to my parents, and then to my fiance (who soon became my husband). I had never lived on my own. Was I up to this?
On the other side of things, would the growth I experienced during this year, and during later years, correspond to the growth my husband experienced training for the Army and possible deployment? Or would he return home to find that while I had remained the same he had grown in ways unimaginable to me?
I also began to worry that his friends and family might blame me for not stopping him. No one ever said a word to that effect. Perhaps they understood that there is no stopping my husband once he sets his mind to a task… or perhaps they were too polite.
Money came up as an issue but was not a major one. DH and I were living well within our means and had managed to save a bit. The children of middle class parents, we had both been drilled about the value of a dollar and the necessity of a balanced budget. Our gigantic student loans were already beginning to diminish. Besides, we began to plan my move back to the suburbs to be closer to my job and my family, a move that would result in a much cheaper rent. I might have even moved home and saved more except for the fact that I have developed a severe allergy to my childhood home. (Really. I swear.)
DH also was already part of a “Low Income Protection Plan” (LIPP) through Harvard Law, because of his clerkship, that would continue to help us with his loans during his early days as an enlisted man in the Army.
We would have less than our contemporaries but more than enough.
So, with all of this swirling in my head, I began to mentally and emotionally prepare for my husband’s entry into the Army.
Within a month of his official entry into the DEP, all of our planning hit the proverbial speed bump. DH was playing squash with a friend when he collapsed. Limping home, he felt sure that this was a minor sports injury. The next day, however, he thought the pain was serious enough to take a trip to the doctor.