All Things Army: You Had Questions, I Have Answers


Over the past few months, I have received a handful of messages on Facebook and Instagram with questions about our military experience. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not fielding inquiries left and right (let’s face it – in the popularity game, I am much more of an Andrea Zuckerman than a Kelly Taylor), but my inbox has been getting more full lately with questions about all things Army. So without further introduction, I present to you my answers…


What does your husband do in the Army? Despite being fairly open about our experience as a military family (read military-related posts here), I don’t really share too much about his actual rank/speciality/position. It’s not a secret – all of that information can easily be gleaned from his uniform – but I’m cognizant about not wanting to ‘wear his rank‘ or take on his accomplishments as my own. Obviously I am ridiculously proud of him but there is a stigma within the military community surrounding spouses who fail to cultivate their own life, choosing instead to wrap themselves up within the achievements of the military member. But for the sake of clarity – my husband is a military intelligence officer currently serving as an aide-de-camp.


Did you husband go to West Point? Nope. He went to Clemson University on an ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) scholarship. It’s a good thing he did because at the beginning of his sophomore year, a freshman girl walked by the open door of his dorm room, prompting him to ask her if she wanted a double shot of Peach Schnapps. She thought he was cute so she accepted his offer. My husband claims that I was the first girl he offered the Schnapps to but I have my doubts.


How long has your husband been in the Army? He commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 2004. I ‘pinned’ on his rank during the ceremony and he proposed the following week. Earlier this summer, we found out that he was selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel so he will pin on his new rank sometime next year. Occasionally I find myself looking at him in disbelief that he is where he is career-wise – aren’t we still the teenagers who fell in love and made out between classes? Are we really that old now?


Did you know what you were getting yourself into? I met my husband on September 9, 2001. He had accepted his ROTC scholarship in 2000 with the intention of serving his four-year commitment and then pursing other options. As we’re all aware, the world changed shortly after and war became part of our reality. Clay, and therefore the Army, have been a part of my life since 2001. In that regards, I knew what I was getting myself into because our country entered a two-front war during our dating years. I knew if I married him that our marriage would involve separations, deployments, and other experiences unique to military life.

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That being said – there is no way to fully understand what it is like to send your husband off to war, or not to hear from him for weeks, or to receive notification phone calls about deaths in the unit, or to attend memorial services for fallen soldiers, or to experience the wave of relief you feel when you find out it wasn’t your husband who was killed, or the experience of hugging your husband for the first time in months/years. You can’t fully understand until you’re in the trenches – living it and tasting it firsthand.


How long will you be in the Washington DC area? My husband will be transitioning out of his current role sometime next spring, which means that we will embark on a new adventure to a place unknown at that time. There is always a chance that we could stay in the area but we’re still at the stage in our lives where we enjoy moving at the whim of the Army. As our children get older, we will explore the possibility of staying in one place    but so far, they have proved themselves quite resilient and enjoy the adventure of moving as much as we do.

Do you know where you are PCSing to next? No. Do you know where we are going next? Because if you do, I’d really like to know.


What do you like best about the Army? You mean besides my husband in his uniform? Who knew that I would be such a sucker for him in his mess dress – I am here for those high-waisted pants. The friendships, the camaraderie, the lessons learned, the awe of watching my husband be apart of something greater than himself, and the opportunity to experiences places we otherwise wouldn’t choose to live ourselves are all things I really like about having a husband in the Army.


What do you like least about the Army? I get frustrated during the times when I feel like that I have very little control over my life. We view this life as a grand adventure but like all adventures – there are some aspects that just downright suck. I miss my husband when he is gone. I feel like the Army has contributed to my career frustrations (see my posts about The Lloyd Dobler Effect and What I’ve Done). And to be perfectly honest – I am terrified of turning into one of those wives who don’t talk about anything other than their husband’s career. I realize that I am admitting this fear in a post that is pretty much only about my husband’s chosen career – the irony is not lost on me.


What is your dream assignment? Europe. But honestly, I’d be happy with anything out of the ordinary. Part of the reason why we decided that Clay continuing until retirement was the best choice for our family is that we enjoy feeling of holding our hands and jumping into the unknown together. We agree that if there comes a point that we want to settle down and stay in one place for longer than a couple of years, then we will reevaluate. Until then, I am keeping my fingers-crossed for an off-the-beaten path assignment. Or Europe.

What was your least-favorite duty assignment? Fort Sill, Oklahoma. We made the best of it but at the end of the day, there are so many other places that we’ve enjoyed living more. We did get to attend a Hail and Farewell at a place called The Dry Beaver Supper Club, where they served salad out of a bathtub, so not all was lost.


How do your kids feel about having a father in the military? They’re smiling in this cheesy CGSC (Command & General Staff College) yearbook photo so that must mean they like it, right? They don’t know what it is to not have a daddy in the Army so this is their normal. They miss him when he is gone and give him huge hugs when he returns. My husband does a fantastic job at being present for our children when he is home and tries his absolute hardest to make it to their events – big and small. I’m not going to lie though – it’s a bummer when he isn’t around for milestones. The kids understand but I can tell when they’re sad because he isn’t around and they miss him.


How do you remain so positive? I consider myself a positive person and I am a huge proponent of fakin’ it ’till I make it. That being said, I have my moments when I am of going with the flow. Trust me – I have my moments. This post best illustrates my glass half full attitude and why I try my hardest not to focus on the not-so-glamorous aspects of this life.

Well – there you have it. Any other questions? Ask below and I’ll do my best to answer as best I can. I’m curious as to how many people who read this blog are affiliated with the military – if so, how so?

15 comments on “All Things Army: You Had Questions, I Have Answers”

  1. Karen, I love this post so much – and a million congrats to your husband on his selection for promotion! What an incredible accomplishment! Army life is definitely the best and worst of all things. It offers so many opportunities, but there are definitely costs to each. I love how honest and candid you are about both.


  2. Thank you, Melissa. Yes – Army life is full of highs and lows. But I think in order to appreciate the highs, it is best to endure the lows. Sometimes it’s best to just embrace the suck, you know?


  3. Another Army wife here, although we are a few years ahead of you on the path, starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I really enjoy your blog- thank you!


  4. Could totally relate to all of this! And your writing style is so conversational, I felt like I was talking to a good friend. A fun read over coffee. Congratulations to your husband on his promotion and thanks for the sacrifices your family has made for our country.


  5. I totally agree on the favorite and least favorite parts of Army life! Congratulations on the promotion! Fingers crossed for Europe! That’s where we’re hoping to go next also!


  6. Congrats on his promotion! Here’s a question (I get asked it all the time). Are you ready for him to retire? LOL! I have been getting asked that for at least 10 years! Mine is retiring in a little over a year after 25 years. Most days I wish he weren’t so we could continue to travel aka PCS, but then I think we will still be able to do that AND have more control over our lives when he is out as we will have the freedom to go wherever and whenever we want haha! Needless to say, I have mixed emotions!


  7. I love your honesty and candid responses. Thank you for sharing this information to help others understand through your painted picture what military life is like.


  8. Congratulations on nearing retirement! We actually attended a retirement ceremony last week and it was such an awesome experience. I totally understand what you mean by mixed emotions. ❤


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