Archive for Military Spouse

Military Wives Have a Right to Speak Out About the Government Shutdown

I am just livid about the comments on articles like this one: Food or rent? Soldier’s Wife Fears Government Shutdown.

Yes, a lot of these idiots are trolls but I am shocked at the vitriol being spewed by such a large number of commenters.

Here is my response to those who think military families are uneducated “moochers” living off of their tax dollars:

And for intelligent and articulate commentary on the shutdown, check out Krystel Spell of Army Wife 101 on MSNBC.

Employee Rights and Military Spouses

A reader wrote me with a question and I just feel so frustrated for her. Essentially, she inquired about her eligibility for upcoming promotions and was told (via e-mail) that she should clarify whether or not she will be moving to join her husband, who is currently in military training. The Human Resources people got this information about her husband from a co-worker.

I would re-print the maddening e-mail she received here but I am concerned that someone at her office might recognize it.

Worker Mobility versus Employee Loyalty

In this case, she expects to be in the area for at least the next two years.  I really do not think that in today’s world a company can expect more than that.  Even if your spouse is not military, they cannot expect a person will not start a family, move, find a better offer, or change careers for decades anymore.  Given the vast number of layoffs, you also cannot expect that sort of loyalty from a company anymore, either.

In answering her question, there are two things to consider: (1) Her rights; (2) Reality.

Military Spouse Employee Rights

I am not a lawyer and you should not consider this actionable legal advice.

Most states do not specifically grant military spouses protection from employment discrimination.  However, you may not discriminate against someone based on marital status.  An employer making inquiries about your marriage for any purpose is simply inappropriate.  They also cannot ask if you are planning to get pregnant and take maternity leave in the near future.

Some recent decisions have also set a precedent for considering this indirect discrimination against a servicemember.  That would be a more difficult argument to make, in my lay opinion.

Either way, most of the time, this is a “he said / she said” situation but these people actually had the chutzpah to put their idiocy in writing.

Rights versus Reality

The problem with all of this is that most employees generally want to stay at their jobs and progress in their careers.  They do not want to get fired or passed up for promotions and then engage in a lengthy legal battle.

This is where the reality comes in.

My Advice to This Reader

In this case, the cat is already out of the bag and this military spouse has to decide the best way to manage the issue.

My advice was to reassure her office that her “marital status” will not affect her job performance and to clarify that she plans to be in the area for the “foreseeable future” and hopes to build her career with that company.

Chain of Command

If the company were a large, national corporation, I might also recommend investigating corporate policies and possibly taking your concerns up the chain.  However, with a small-to-medium local company, it is likely that would just get you passed over even more and possibly let-go at a later date for either manufactured performance reasons or laid-off due to the economy.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

For those who are just starting at their job or in the military life, I would recommend keeping information about your spouse to yourself.

I know it is lonely when your husband is gone on training or deployment.  I know that you want to share the joy when your husband gets a commendation or passes a difficult exam.  The sad reality is you are probably better off not confiding in your co-workers.  Even if they mean well, they most likely do not understand that casual conversations like this can affect your career.

This may be cynical, and this is not something I would have even considered when I was younger, but seeing things like this happen so many times, I’ve learned that discretion is the better part of covering your own rear.

Even with your best efforts, however, you may find yourself in a position where you are being discriminated against due to your husband’s military status.  In this case, you have to decide whether it is worth burning bridges to pursue the issue.

There’s what is right, and there is what works.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice being right in order to make things work.

What do you think? Am I too cynical? Is a direct discussion about employee rights the way to go?  Or am I not cynical enough?  Should she just start looking for another job since she is unlikely to advance at this company? And should military spouses have more employment rights to protect them? Do you empathize with the businesses who lose employees due to military moves or is it just part of the sacrifice we should all be sharing more equally?

Photo by Miriam Pastor

Interview with Julie and Martin

Not only have Julie and Martin Weckerlein of Julie and Martin been married for almost a decade–they’ve been blogging about military family life even longer.  And they have the distinction of both having been military spouses for one another.  And now Julie is the servicemember and Martin is the military spouse, offering us a great chance to hear from a male military spouse!

What topics do you write about on your blog?

Julie: Our site started in the summer of 2001, when I was a public affairs Airman stationed in Germany, engaged to Martin, who was a German tank commander in the Bundeswehr at the time.

Martin: But we had met when Julie was a high school foreign exchange student in Nuremberg. That always surprises people. Julie was lucky to be stationed at Ramstein Air Base as her first duty station. It brought her close to me, so our relationship grew from there.

Julie: We were planning a big traditional wedding, and we both come from large, scattered families, so the website was a way for my family in the states and his family around Germany to follow along with our wedding plans. But then the terrorist attacks on 9/11 happened and our site took on a new role as friends and family wanted to stay connected to us as our respective militaries responded to that.

Martin: My Bundeswehr unit was deployed to provide security support for Army bases in our area of Bavaria.

Julie: And my public affairs office at Ramstein got very busy once U.S. forces started deploying to Afghanistan. So not only did we continue writing about bridesmaid dresses and centerpieces for the wedding, but we started sharing the military side of our lives, too.

Martin: When we did finally get married, we got so many emails asking us not to stop the site. We moved to our next base in Italy and had our first daughter there, so we wrote about the baby. And traveling. I started playing football, so we posted about that.

Julie: It’s evolved over the years. We’ve changed hosting sites a few times; the design’s been updated, but it is has always been a reflection of our lives as a military family. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Now we are living in the Washington DC area with two daughters and another baby on the way. We’re both juggling careers and family and my military service. And all along, we just keep updating and sharing our lives with photos, video and some insight and humor.

What is a favorite post of yours?

Julie: Do I have to list just one? All the posts Martin wrote while I was deployed in 2007 mean so much to me. I love going back into our archives, too, and just randomly surfing through those past entries and videos, reliving those first years together or when the girls were babies. It goes by so fast.

Martin: Julie made this video for our daughter that showed what it was like to be a military child. It makes me tear up every time I see it. She included the video I took of her saying goodbye to our daughter when she deployed. (For My Military Brat – With Love)

Julie: That is probably my most emotional video I ever posted. People see videos of deployment homecomings all the time, but that’s only a brief glimpse of what being a military family is all about. I wanted to honor what my daughter went through that summer, and also show how growing up a military kid, and being a military parent, is a challenging, but pretty cool experience.

How long has your servicemember served and for how long have you been a military spouse?

Julie: I enlisted in the active duty Air Force in January 2000, which really doesn’t seem that long ago. I left active duty in June 2009, and I am now a technical sergeant (E-6) in the Air Force Reserve. It’s crazy to think it’s been 11 years total now.

Martin: Technically, I’ve been a military spouse for nine years since we married in April 2002. But when I met Julie in 1999, she told me she was joining the Air Force. I was visiting her in the United States that summer when she went to the recruiter’s station, helped her study for her ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude) test, and we wrote back and forth while she was in basic training.

Julie: I still have those letters!

Martin: It feels like I’ve been a spouse much longer since I was there at the beginning.

Has your servicemember deployed?

Julie: I deployed as a combat correspondent in 2007. I was on a three-man news team that traveled around Iraq and Afghanistan, documenting various missions through photography, articles and video.

Martin: That was a hard time for us. She traveled a lot, so I didn’t know where she was on any given day. That was a really terrible summer in regards to the bombings and deaths. I couldn’t watch the news because it just made me feel sick. As a former German soldier, I knew Julie was in a stressful situation, but she was trained. Her team had really good people on it. I still worried, though. But I couldn’t dwell on it. I focused on keeping busy for our daughter and doing my best to update our site so when Julie could access a computer, she could see that we were missing her, but doing well. And whenever she posted, I knew she was doing okay, too.

Julie: Our website was really a godsend during that time, even though it took a lot of effort to keep it going. At the time, military leadership shut off all access to a lot of the social networking sites, yet I was still able to post to our site through email, and I had subscribed to the email feed, so that’s how Martin and I kept up with each other. And it kept our friends and family informed, too. They were so eager to show their support for us in so many ways. I posted once that I really missed baking and eating fresh brownies, and within a week, I had care packages full of those microwavable brownie mixes. The night I posted from Iraq about one of the mortar attacks my team experienced, our neighbors in Virginia came to the house to check on Martin, just to reach out to him and let him know they were thinking of us. It was so touching, being enveloped by that support.

What are the challenges of being a military spouse?

Martin: Time management. She’s in the Reserve now, so her absences are a lot more predictable. I know she’ll be gone for one weekend a month and there will be some weeks here and there when she’s gone. When she was active duty, it was the same, just trying to keep a routine while being flexible.

Julie: I would also say establishing his career was a struggle, too. As most military spouses know, the military lifestyle makes it very hard for spouses to keep a good career track.

Martin: That, too. It was hard at first. I left the Bundeswehr as a tank commander so that Julie and I could stay together. I wanted to go into accounting and banking as my civilian job, but we were overseas and there are so few jobs for spouses, especially if you aren’t an American citizen eligible for a government job. I was able to do some volunteer work as an accountant for the base thrift shop. That helped. When we moved to the states, it was much easier to find a good banking job.

Julie: But even then, Martin was always the one who took the sick days when our daughter got sick. Any classes or work-related events had to be made around my military schedule. And of course, whenever I was gone, he was doing everything himself. I’m proud of the way he handled it all and how well he’s done. And I’m encouraged that spouses are getting more recognition and support now for their careers, that more programs are being offered so spouses can have steady careers, too.

What are the best parts of being a military spouse?

Martin: Seeing my wife in uniform.

Julie: Ha!

Martin: Okay, that’s only a little joke. She looks sharp in her uniform with her rank and her ribbons and medals. I know the hard work it took to get those. I remember when she didn’t have any rank on her sleeve and that little ribbon for basic training. She has accomplished a lot and I am proud of her.

Julie: I’m going to add that we’ve always enjoyed connecting with other military families.

Martin: A lot of our best friends are people who were stationed with us. I also like meeting retirees and former military brats. It’s like being part of a club with a special language. Anyone who served in the military or lived the lifestyle knows what it is like.

Julie: Our lives are richer because of our military service: the places we’ve been to, the people we’ve met, the experiences.

What is the most interesting, unusual, or funny thing that has happened to you as a result of being a military spouse?

Julie: I thought it was funny that the first time Martin attended a spouses club meeting, they were having a pajama party theme.

Martin: That was bad timing. It was one of those things where they hadn’t had a male spouse attend a meeting in over a year and then I just showed up, a newlywed and new to the base. We had a good laugh. They were very welcoming.

Julie: Aviano had a great spouses group when we were there. They did so much for us and the community.

Martin: My most unusual moment as a spouse was picking up fried chicken for Kid Rock before his concert at Ramstein. Julie was his military liaison while on base and she brought me along that day. So his bodyguard and I went to pick up the chicken and biscuits. Then all of us drove back to his hotel room to eat. That is something you don’t experience every day.

To what extent have blogging and social networking affected the military spouse experience?

Julie: When we started our site, there was no Facebook or Twitter. Unless they also had a family site or blog we could follow, we really only kept in touch with old military friends through occasional emails or our annual Christmas card mailing list.

Martin: I now get daily comments from people who were stationed with us overseas. It is easier to keep up with their lives now.

Julie: And the networking helped a great deal when I left active duty. Former colleagues and friends were quick to send me advice and job leads. It made the whole transition to civilian/Reserve life a lot easier. Blogging and maintaining relationships through social networking have opened so many doors for us.

If someone you care about was about to marry a military servicemember, what one piece of advice would you give?

Julie: A good friend of ours just recently got engaged to an Army soldier. It was funny because as soon as she told me, I went into military supervisor mode and made sure she was aware of all the paperwork and in-processing she’s going to face as she enrolls in DEERS and gets an ID card and becomes familiar with all the programs the military offers family members. It can get overwhelming. If it weren’t for other military couples reaching out to help us navigate all those processes, we would have been completely lost.

Martin: My advice is to avoid becoming isolated, especially during a deployment or separation. Ask for help if you need it. Become friends with other military spouses. And don’t lose your sense of humor.


For more insightful, funny, and touching stories, read Julie and Martin and “Like” them on Facebook.

Can a Military Spouse Pursue a Professional Career? (Ask Molly)

Dear Molly,

My boyfriend is currently in an ROTC battalion. He won’t be commissioned until 2013. He has, in the past couple months, begun to talk about getting married. He’s 24 and I’m 20. We currently have a long distance relationship because we go to school about 3 hours apart. With all of my extracurriculers and his work/ROTC we’ve been seeing each other once, maybe twice, a month since we started dating last year. This has forced us to talk a lot more than most couples our age and he is my best friend without a doubt. I love him and agree with him that we will possibly be married in the future. The problem is, I can’t stand the uncertainty of the Army. We are waiting for him to get a waiver so he can go to basic this summer (too many traffic tickets). It’s been over a month since he went to MEPs and they still haven’t contacted him either way. There’s no telling where he will be in 4 years when I graduate from grad school. How do military wives deal with their own careers? After I’m married, I want to live with him. I want to be able to be with him as much as possible and I’m willing to live on base and raise my kids on base. But, are there generally job opportunities for spouses near bases? I plan on getting a Masters of Public Policy and be research oriented, but some of my friends said that the only jobs you could get would be minimum wage type jobs. Eventually, he is going to retire and I will be able to settle into a professorship at a university somewhere. I guess my main problem is the uncertainty the Army brings to MY dreams, plans, and goals. It seems to amplify the normal problem that almost engaged/engaged/newly married couples go through in synthesizing two lives into one. Do you have any advice, other than talking about it because we do, for us?

Thanks!

Dear Reader,

Uncertainty is a fact of military life.

A military spouse may have a career but it may require a certain degree of flexibility and creativity.

Some of the variables that will affect your job prospects are unknowable: where he is posted, at what point he is deployed, and how long it will be before you move again.

There are other considerations that are more under his and your control but may shift over time: what his career goals are in the military, what your short-term and long-term career goals are, and at what point you would like to start a family.

Every post is different. There are some where the job market is abysmal and there are others where there may be opportunities to someone in your field. When I was in Texas, there were many spouses who found various medical and administrative jobs at several nearby hospitals. You might even find a job with the military and will receive some preference in applying for federal jobs as a spouse.

I am not familiar with the types of institutions that hire people to do public policy research. I would imagine most “think tanks” are based out of Washington, DC, but there are probably national charities, public service institutions, school districts, and government offices near most posts. You might not find your ideal job at each location but you can probably find something that makes use of your skill set and education in many places.

Another option is a consulting or freelance position that enables you to telecommute. Although I was able to re-certify as a classroom teacher each time I moved, I decided it made more sense to consult and write curriculum. This way, I had continuity no matter when and where I moved and I had the perfect job for when we started our family. Plus, I maintained my qualifications in my career field and gained experience.

There are career fairs, virtual and face-to-face, online web portals, and state programs in many locations (Texas had a great one) dedicated to helping military spouses further their careers. So, there is help available. I am actually doing some research right now and plan to write a post about some of these resources.  In the meantime, here are some links that may be helpful for military spouses on the job hunt or assessing their career path:

You might also decide if you receive an assignment in an area that makes it difficult to pursue your career that it is a good time to try to publish your own papers, volunteer to keep up your credentials, and/or start your family. In other words, you can pursue a path parallel to your career goals, while fulfilling personal and family goals. Then, once you are in a better position personally and geographically, you are still more or less on-track.

Yes, you can continue to pursue a professional career. However, the path may have a few more twists.

Hope this helped!


“Ask Molly” represents only my opinion and the comments of readers represent their opinions. I draw upon my training as a Family Readiness Group leader, my own experience and that of those I know, and any research I found on the Internet. I am not a trained counselor. Have a question? Send questions to askmolly [at] armywiveslives [dot] com.

Do you have a hero husband?

I saw this query on a few lists and a friend just forwarded me a separate request from the journalist.  I know many of you are married to bonafide heroes.

My hero does not like me to broadcast his heroic acts but, although I will respect his wishes, I believe talking about true heroism inspires others to act!

Are you married to a real hero?  Of course, I think all servicemembers are heroes–but are you married to a hero who has gone above and beyond?  Do you want to recognize your hero and shout it from the rooftops or at least the glossy pages of a “major women’s magazine”?  Here’s your chance:

[blockquote]We are looking for the heroes of 2010/2011 to feature in a major women’s magazine.  To be considered you must meet the following criteria (NO EXCEPTIONS).

You must:

  • Be Married
  • Have performed a truly heroic act and been recognized in the press for it.
  • Send me a compelling paragraph giving me the details.  Please do not send more than two paragraphs.
  • Send over the name, age, location and 2 photos of the hero as well as a link to articles/video detailing the act.
  • Get your information to me no later than Thursday, February 10.

Please do not send over information unless you meet all criteria.

BDCCasting@gmail.com[/blockquote]

Photo credit: Captain America

I'm Not a Single Parent

soldier calling homeTonight, I looked at my beautiful children–a sight that normally fills me with love and joy–and felt dread. I felt the dread of the solo bedtime routine. Trying to balance the needs and desires of two very young kids while still leaving myself enough time to do work and straighten up can be exhausting.

But I am not a single parent.

My husband is just on drill. He’ll be home tomorrow and I’ll have my parenting and life partner back.

Even when he was deployed, he was still my husband. Although I miss him when he is gone, that is a very different type of absence than that felt by someone who is widowed or separated.

We still have our love and our mutual support and our commitment to working together on our relationship and our parenting.

I’ve heard some military spouses…and even some moms whose husbands are on business trips…joke that they are “single parents”. I think we are allowed our little jokes and I hope the real single moms don’t take offense. Really, though, we aren’t single parents at all. We have our own challenges, of course. Personally, though, I’ll take my own set of challenges over those of the single parent, any day.

Geographical separation is not the same as separation by divorce or death.

Interview with Keri Smith of The Glamorous Life of an Army Wife

Keri SmithWe chatted with Keri Smith, aka “GlamorousArmy”, to find out more about her humorous take on the ups and downs of Army life and to discover how she adds a touch of Army Wife Glamor to even the most difficult situation. Keri blogs at The Glamorous Life of an Army Wife.

What topics do you write about on your blog?

Life as a military wife, of course! The great things, the not-so-great things, tips for survival. I also talk about how evil my children are, what it’s like to deal with my son’s Asperger’s Syndrome, and other random topics.

What is a favorite post of yours?
The Deployment Series-Part 1-Letting him Leave.

Tell me a little bit about your military spouse journey.

My husband has been in [the Army] over 13 years and I met him at MEPS the day he joined, because I was joining the Reserves. We wrote for 3 months, and got engaged 3 months after he graduated from Basic Training.

Yes, [he’s deployed] twice. Once in 2004 and last year. Both times to Iraq.

What are the challenges of being a military spouse?

It’s hard to get family members to understand that our service as military spouses is just as important as our soldiers. We are sacrificing our fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and trying to live our lives without them. It’s also difficult to learn how to make easy transitions, between PCS moves, friends leaving, new schools for children, new jobs. It’s a challenge to get used to having a partner at home when they have been gone half the time. You need to be self-sufficient and independent when they are gone, but they still want to feel needed when they are home. It’s a life of mixed emotions.

What are the best parts of being a military spouse?

I love moving! Each duty station brings it’s own adventure, and that’s just how you have to think of it. We moved to Alaska for 3 years. Yes, it was far away and completely unknown to me, but we looked at it as our challenge.

To what extent have blogging and social networking affected the military spouse experience?

It makes it easier to reach out to someone else who will understand, because unless you have had a spouse deploy, you really can’t relate in the same way. It can be a lonely road, but it can also be very rewarding. After all, we get to date our husbands again every time they are gone! We write letters and emails, we have long phone calls. We have a chance to miss each other, and therefore appreciate what both sides contribute to the relationship.

If someone you care about was about to marry a military servicemember, what one piece of advice would you give?

Be social, and make your own life. Your soldier is not going to create one for you. You need to accomplish goals for yourself and as a couple. Take advantage of the free education benefits the military offers for spouses. Keep your chin up, and reach out if you need help. We all do from time to time. You aren’t alone in this.

Choices

Fallon Wharton is a proud Army Wife who holds a degree in Mass Communications / Journalism and has her own career aspirations.  She enjoys writing poetry and short stories that draw upon her experiences and she has launched her own blog. She shared this post with us.

Fallon WhartonSometimes life is about knowing… I don’t think all decisions are meant to be permanent, though they so often feel that way. Just the mere fact of choosing something in order to know what it will bring you. Though I use the term ‘mere’ lightly, because it’s never just a mere choice is it? It’s a definite proverbial fork in the road with its glaring signs “this way to…” “Or that way to…” and if you’re lucky, as I have been, neither choice is bad, but the choices are so different that it’s evident each one will bring you completely different results. One result might leave you looking back on your life thinking.. “damn, what would have happened if I would have went that-a-way??” So, I tend to choose the one that I feel won’t derive the ‘what if’ of life, though that’s never really guaranteed.

So often, we make a choice that we know is important to better ourselves for now and the future, and because we don’t want to live with the ‘what if’ thought. “What if I wouldn’t have or would have done that?” We make a choice, we learn, we see after so long where that choice is taking us. We’re then presented with another choice, another, and another. I guess that is the beauty to life. The freedom to choose. I guess that is an adversity to life. The freedom to choose. Through all of these choices some are obviously easier, while others feel, and often are, insurmountably more difficult.

I recently had to talk to my boss about my job, potentially leaving to be with my husband, or stay with the company but working remotely so I can live with my military husband. (I know, odd right, the thought of actually living with your husband?!? Ok, bad joke. ) Mind you, this job is one I love, with a company I can go very far in, not to mention learn a lot. It’s mirroring back to me the potential dream career I thought never was. So, though confronting your boss in this manner may not sound like much, it was by far one of the hardest things I’ve had to face, and a nerve-wracking experience at that. I’ve only been with this company for 9 months, all the while planning on staying here until my better half was done with training in another 8 months. Then we would find out where we’d be stationed, and only then would I potentially leave the office here in Virginia to work from home, transfer offices, or totally walk away depending on what the military decided for our lives. Ah it felt as if we had planned the perfect yellow brick road.. but instead a change of path lie ahead, ie, another major life choice.

Choice decided to have other plans for my husband and I. What’s funny about choice is I wouldn’t even be faced with these choices if we weren’t a part of the Military, which seems very choice unfriendly, or choice-less (if you will) well – to a spouse anyway. You’re at their mercy 100% and if you have any hopes of keeping your family together and pursuing your own career, if you’re career minded the way I am, you have to keep those hopes in order and you better have a strong marriage, oh and eternal optimism doesn’t hurt. Two parties pursuing their career is a great thing… unless one of those parties is in the ever-changing-no choice making-but love my country Military. You can count on being apart a lot of the time even if you do follow your husband post to post (hooah!), and you can definitely count on being apart all of the time if you too decide you want stability enough to allow your own career and life to flourish. (mild applause) We’re faced with these choices… knowing we’re not the first, but sure feeling like we are.

Choice is made and I am moving forward with hope and a realization I can manifest and create what I want, though it often feels easier said than done. I know what I’m worth and as my mom once said, “She’ll grow wherever she is planted,” I have recently learned upon observation that I’ve proved that statement to myself time and time again, and I’ll never cease to grow nor give up on my own dreams, and I’ll always make the right choice as long as I follow my ever-so-clichéd heart, wherever that may be during my husband’s career span to… YES, defend OUR freedom. J I’ll save the what if’s for the birds… and in the meantime cherish every moment I have with the one man who means the world to me, because without my big strong Army Officer… life wouldn’t be as worth living, career or not.

Mrs. Claus Must Be a Military Wife

Mrs Claus is a Military SpouseI first published this post in 2005 on this blog and then in a local paper.  In 2007, I sold a revised version to Military Spouse Magazine (10 Reasons Why Mrs. Clause Must Be a Military Spouse – typo NOT mine) and a friend of mine let me know recently that it is online.

I thought I’d re-print the original and link to the “Top Ten List” version…hope you enjoy!

— Mrs. Claus Must Be a Military Wife —

After deep consideration, I’ve determined that Mrs. Claus must be a Military Wife.

Defined to the general public by her husband’s job, Mrs. Claus works tirelessly to encourage Santa. In songs, films, and storybooks, Mrs. Claus is rarely mentioned and, when she is, she takes a back seat to Santa.

We military wives know, though, that she is so much more!

Obviously, Mrs. Claus has a kind heart and a soft spot for children and animals.

When Santa is off flying around the globe, she keeps her concerns and tears to herself–although we all know she has more than her fair share of grey hairs!

While Santa is gone, Mrs. Claus keeps the home fires burning. She supports her husband’s mission and looks out for all of the elves. Perhaps she even leads a support group of some sort.

Even when Santa is home, he is so busy at work that Mrs. Claus hardly sees him. Mrs. Claus understands that though she may be last on Santa’s schedule, she is first in his heart. Despite Santa’s workaholic schedule and regular absenses, Santa and the Mrs. are still very much in love.

Santa’s salary is not published, but I suspect Mrs. Claus clips coupons to support a household of hundreds of elves and eight reindeer (plus the new addition–Rudolph) and let’s not even start on her heating bill!

To stay busy, I bet Mrs. Claus pitches in with the toy making (although it really is someone else’s job), bakes hundreds of cookies (we all know how Santa feels about cookies), and volunteers her time (she is just as generous as her husband).

Since I feel like I know Mrs. Claus, I would hazard a guess that she has a paying job, too, to take her mind off of her husband’s safety and to help with the bills. Although we know her for her kindness, Mrs. Claus is smart, independent, and a self-starter. However, since she has to work seasonally and values family life above all else, I doubt this job fully uses her considerable skills and training.

Although her husband has a dangerous job that takes him away from his family and that he does selflessly, with little compensation, Mrs. Claus focuses on the positive.

Mrs. Claus is married to a real life hero, after all, and she is surrounded by love and good will.

Given all of this, I am sure Mrs. Claus is one of us…

…We who also serve–the military wives.

And do not forget the most convincing evidence–who else but a military wife would follow her husband to the freakin’ North Pole!?!?!?

You have permission to pass around if you credit me (Candace Lindemann at http://ArmyWivesLives.com) and link to this post. Feel free to add to my list in the comments section.

Interview with Pam from Troop Petrie

Troop PetriePam, who is just a ball of kindness and enthusiasm and positive energy, told us about how she writes “about everything, love, marriage, the military, children, cooking, crafts, homeschooling” at Troop Petrie.

Share a favorite post of yours.

Letters to my hero, I did this nightly while my husband was deployed, it helped us stay connected to one another and it also let my blog readers know how I was really doing.

Tell us a little bit about your military spouse journey.

My husband and I were high school sweethearts, we broke up after 2.5 years. We were separated for 2 years in which time he joined the Army Reserves. When we got back together we decided he would go Active. That was over 14 years ago, so he has been in the Army for 16 years. He came in as a private and came up the ranks until he was a E-7 and then last year he went to Warrant Officer School and is currently a W1. As far as deployments, we have had more than our share. He has been to Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq and did I say Iraq for a third time. We were stationed at Redstone where you do NOT deploy because it is a training post and he deployed with a transition team. I swear he sends out signals that say deploy me

What are the challenges of being a military spouse?

The challenges of being a military wife are being lonely, learning to rely on others. I have a hard time asking for help so this has been a challenge. Communication has always been a issue, I have done everything from writing 8 page daily letters (when we only had one child) to writing Letters to my Hero on my blog. The other challenge I have is not shutting down or pulling away before a deployment.

What are the best parts of being a military spouse?

The best part of being a military spouse is that I am in a family like no other. I am with a family that no one outside of the family will ever understand. Oh and it does not hurt that I get to go to bed with a man in uniform

What is the most interesting, unusual, or funny thing that has happened to you as a result of being a military spouse?

Let’s see this may not be the answer you want but I will tell it. When my husband was getting to sergeant I was due to have a baby, it was a LONG stressful high risk pregnancy. I had actually been at the hospital the day of his ceremony. So I arrive for the penning ceremony and set in the back with my 4 year old. His Commander and First Sergeant came back to ask if I was okay. As they walk away (now please know there were at least 100 men standing at attention in a bay that echoes) my son said “mom are those boys? And then he screamed “Does he have a penis”? I thought I would shrink into the seat. I felt bad for all those men standing there who could not laugh.

To what extent have blogging and social networking affected the military spouse experience?

I think blogging about living in the military has helped me, it has helped me to feel normal when talking to other wives. It has made it possible for me to encourage other wives. It has made it possible for me to keep connected to my husband daily while he was deployed.

If someone you care about was about to marry a military servicemember, what one piece of advice would you give?

First marry an Airman, they make better money and have better housing. No really I would say marry an AIRMAN, did I say that already? I would say talk to other stable military wives, maybe visit PWOC at a Chapel a few times. Talk with your family about what will happen when he deploys. Know that it is a wonderful life, a secure life, a life filled with pride and respect.