Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. It’s ironic how this day happens to fall in Mental Health Awareness Month. 🙂 On a day like today, I’m feeling rather nastalgic so I’ll tell you about how I came to be a military spouse. It’s probably my favorite story to tell and I hope you like it too.

A picture from our youth

A picture from our youth

It all started almost 11 years ago.  We both met at the Holiday Inn where we worked.  He was a cook and I was a lifeguard.  I was only 16 and he was 19 (turning 20) when we met, which meant he was bad news – but I couldn’t resist!  He brought me dessert one day and wrote a note on the top of the box asking me out for coffee sometime…and the rest is history. : )

Four years later, we moved in together even though we were entirely too young.  He proposed about a year and a half later.  We both decided that before we get married we should figure out what we’re going to do with our lives.  I had decided against my previously declared pre-med major and he had just finished trade school.  It was around this time that he joined the Army National Guard.  He was gone for a total of 9 months for basic training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and it was the first taste I got of being a military spouse. 

Taken the day he graduated from basic training

Taken the day he graduated from basic training

When my hubby-to-be returned from basic and AIT, I thought things would be different but they were surprisingly the same.  You see, my man was in the National Guard which made him a citizen/soldier- so he was only really employed by the military one weekend a month and two weeks per year.  The 9 to 5 job was up to him to figure out.  He had eventually arrived to the conclusion that he wanted to do his Guard job full time as a DOD employee – but those jobs don’t grow on trees- so he found the best work he could for the time being. 

We’re now a year into hubby’s commitment to the National Guard.  My career was starting to take off, he was still waiting for a DOD job to open while working as a cook and we were planning our wedding.   It was September of 2004 and we had our wedding date set for Julyof 2005.  We were in the very early stages of wedding planning more than two years after we got engaged.  And then it happened…we got a phone call in the middle of the night from his 1SG.  That’s right…deployment orders…Iraq…in one week! 

This may surprise you, but I was not prepared for this.  It was something that I figured would happen at some point but honestly never put much thought into it.  He was only there once a month for the past year, so the significance didn’t register.  Needless to say, this was a big mistake on my part because we had a lot of things to sort out in less than a week.  Primarily, our wedding!

We first started this roller coaster ride by visiting the 1SG’s house where the 1SG and his wife answered any and all questions we could throw at them.  We finally dropped the bombshell about the wedding and they actually shared their own experience that was very similar.  They recommended that we tie the knot before the deployment and then have a formal ceremony when he returns home.  In addition to all of this, they helped us formulate a checklist of a million other things we had to do before the deployment.  So that was it.  We did it.  We planned our wedding in four days.  That’s right, four days!  And we were determined to make it the best darned wedding we could.

Our groomsmen and my brother standing with the man of the hour

Our groomsmen and my brother standing with the man of the hour

Believe it or not, everything fell into place for the wedding.  It definitely helped that we had supportive parents, awesome friends, and a church we already belonged to.  Our pastor summed up our mandatory pre-marital counseling in 15 minutes.  Talk about a time saver!  Our reception was at my mother and father in law’s house, which is beautiful and right on the golf course of the country club we were originally planning on.  My in laws also helped take care of the cake, limo, and several other things.  The only thing I needed was (eek!) a dress.  I never thought I’d find a dress that would fit, as I had tried this before.  I was apparently a size 8 waist with a size 12 bust…not many dresses are made that way.  Believe it or not, I walked into the dress shop and tried on one dress.  It zipped right up, no problems, no alterations needed!  It couldn’t have been more perfect. 

Tying the knot

Tying the knot

 I happened to meet a hairdresser outside the mall during this four day wedding plan fiasco and she offered to do my hair and make up AND the bridesmaids on the day of the wedding!  She only charged us $20 per person.  Fabulous!  And speaking of bridesmaids…their dresses were a miracle as well.  My cousin was my Maid of Honor and my best friend was my bridesmaid and their significant others were also Best Man and groomsman.  My bf was recently in her sisters wedding and offered to wear her bridesmaid dress from that.  I asked my cousin if she had a dress the same color, and low and behold- she did.  I’m telling you, it was a series of miracles that made my wedding happen in four days.  This not only helped renew my faith in God, but reaffirm that we were truly meant to be married on that day.

Our first dance at a wedding that looked like ita had been planned for months!

Our first dance at a wedding that looked like ita had been planned for months!

But no, I’m not finished.  You haven’t heard the best part!  The day before our wedding, after my fiance and I ran all over the Capital Region trying to get a marraige license, we got another phone call.  His deployment orders had been cancelled!  No, I’m not kidding; this really happened.  So, we got married anyway.  After everything that fell into place in such a short period of time, we knew this was our day to get married.  It was a beautiful wedding.  We had about 50 guests (amazing for such short notice!) and had a very traditional ceremony and reception. 

So this is how I married into the military.  When I became an Army Wife was actually a couple days later when I vowed to never again be that unprepared for a deployment.  As crazy and chaotic as this story may sound to you, that is the military life.  Plans can change at the drop of a dime and no date is every final.  I’m glad I developed a good understanding of this early on.  I’ve since made good on my promise to myself as I joined (and now lead) the Family Readiness Group where I help other families prepare and cope with deployments. 

Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself as I took a trip down memory lane.  I hope you were able to take something away from this story and if you ever need to pull off an event in a few days…I know people!


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