Monday, September 01, 2008

The Rollercoaster Life of a Military Wife

I'm Pattie, the proud wife of an Air Force chaplain. While I have been married for 17 years, I've only been a military wife for 6 1/2 of those years.

Doesn't even seem like it's been that long...the marriage OR the military life!

Chaplain Hubby joined the Air Force Reserves in 2002, just a few months after completing his doctorate, in the wake of 9-11. In terms of being an officer, he joined the Air Force "late." As in old. In terms of being a chaplain, he's a bit older than the norm, but not much (a chaplain has to have finished his or her M.Div., seminary Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent, to qualify). I mention this because most military personnel who are our age have a higher rank, and many are even contemplating retirement from the service within the next few years!

When I married this man, I knew he was a minister. I never dreamed we'd be in the military. But now, after seeing my husband not only enjoy his job and his work, but be recognized and rewarded for it for perhaps one of the few times in his life, well, I can't think of anywhere else I'd like to be.

(Just an aside: if you attend church, make sure you let your pastor and his wife--or your pastor and her husband--know you appreciate them. It really does make a difference. Trust me.)

So, life in the military. I do less ironing than I used to (don't have to iron all those dress shirts anymore!). His side of the closet has four types of uniforms: old BDUs, new ABUs, blues, and mess dress. He also has an impressive winter coat collection. He still has "civilian" dress and casual clothes, but not as many.

In terms of time, he's working fewer hours than he did as a bivocational small-church single-staff pastor and part-time hospice chaplain. On-call time is actually better; he rotates being on-call with the other chaplains. When he was a pastor, he was The One On Call 24/7/365.

I am continually unsure how to deal with medical issues because everything is constantly being changed. Our base is going through BRAC (base realignment and closure), so budgets are being chopped and personnel are moving away and not being replaced. We don't live on base, we live in town, which is a disconnect. In town, when I mention "Air Force," people wonder when we're moving again. Another disconnect.

How do I connect on base? Through the chapel and OSC (Officers' Spouses Club). I have not found either organization to be clique-ish or unwelcoming here. Both have been good experiences.

Sometimes I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing as a military spouse, and yet I often feel I'm an unofficial ambassador for the military to townspeople who are used to hearing "I hate it here" from military folks they meet. And a "welcome to North Dakota, it's not all that bad" to military folks who move here from Southern states and hear horror stories of the winters here.


I hope this disjointed, random-subject post has helped someone today. The life of this chaplain's wife is quite roller-coaster-ish!

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Let me first start by tailing on my post of yesterday. I regret how I handled it when you moved to ND. I am so sorry. You didn't deserve that. Thank you for bearing with me.

Second, I love hearing your positive experiences. One thing I love about you, Miss Pattie, is how you always become a part of supportive people wherever you are. You leave behind friendships wherever you leave. Not really leave them behind...you take them with you in your heart pocket, whenever you find a new destination.

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