During the months following September 11, 2001, my husband told me that he wanted to join the Army.
He began to download information about the process of becoming an officer–printing the application for Officer Candidate School, checking the physical standards for enlisting and for Officer Candidate School, and researching the Delayed Entry Program.
Having commited to a year at the law firm and a year with his judge, DH decided to sign-up for the Delayed Entry Program.
We had only been married for a few months and already we were discussing a year-long separation, with more to come. To be honest, although DH had said he was interested in the military during law school, I really thought he had let that goal go in favor of others.
The following year, DH began to tell his friends and family.
I think one of the first people he told besides me was his judge. His judge was incredibly supportive and introduced DH to a friend who teaches law at West Point. DH had a great deal of fun arranging a field trip to the NYC courthouse for the cadets.
Our friends were less enthusiastic about the idea but eventually came around.
This portion of the process was difficult for me. Despite my own anxieties about this new time in our lives, I wanted to be supportive of this very important decision DH had made. On top of that, I felt that I had to respond to everyone else’s concerns. When speaking with DH, people would hold back. With me, they were more open in their responses.
In metro New York, the Military was seen as something our grandparents did. Before September 11, most New Yorkers did not think about the Army at all.
The reaction was surprised, confused, but mostly supportive. Actually, the responses were not altogether different from the ones I got when I announced that I wanted to be a teacher: “…but you are so smart, so educated; you could do so much more!”
Frankly, I think that is a bunch of hooey. Who do you want teaching your children and defending your country? Also, just for the record, the Armed Forces is more educated than the population at large.
One helpful friend offered to have his kneecaps broke for me. (Thanks, hon.) A number of the men divulged that they had always considered joining as well.
The toughest part was telling his family, though. Our parents are of the Vietnam generation and have some leftover bad feelings from that era.
DH is very persuasive, though, and everyone who initially set out to “talk some sense into him” was congratulating him by the end of the conversation.
Although DH’s Grandfather was a Army Engineer Officer and always told exciting stories about WWII, he also said, “I’ll buy you any suit but not an Army suit; I don’t ever want to see you in uniform.” So, we were most nervous about that conversation. Ultimately, however, he gave DH his blessing with the advice: “Get everything in writing.”
Having shared his plans with his friends and family, DH was off to finalize his plans with the recruiter.