Life of an Army Wife
When I got married to my husband I by no means thought about the jobs and responsibilities that would befall on me as an Army wife. All the rules and restrictions that have to be followed by the army soldiers had to be followed by their spouse as well. No one could possibly explain in words how separation, deployment, moving, culture, and adjusting your education can affect one’s life until they actually walk a mile in an army wife’s shoes. My life has changed so much from the start of my journey and the sad bit is that the journey has barely begun and there is a lot more to ahead.
When my husband was first assigned to South Carolina for his basic training we were not living together, but we were spending time together for almost a year before he finally had to leave. August 24, 2010 was the date when my husband had to leave for his basic training and this was very tough for me because I was not used living my life separated from him. As I bid him farewell, I could not help myself from tearing up, but I had to keep calm so as not to make the situation harder than it already was for both of us. We both had along journey and this was only the beginning so we had to be strong so as to endure the tough times that were ahead.
Deployment is a word that is familiar to many, but does not affect people as much as it affects a military family. All army soldiers are usually deployed anywhere in the world three to five times throughout their career depending on the time one is enlisted in the military. This necessitates the wife to uproot her family with her husband and move from one place to another as well as locations that are overseas. Most women would not have the capability to handle this kind of a lifestyle and this is what makes military women very extraordinary. Going to Iraq or Afghanistan that are war zone areas is something that every family dreads and this is usually the first or second place that one is assigned to after joining the army. The soldiers were required to stay in deployment for a long period of time which had implications of high suicide rates by the soldiers and the fact that one is away from their family for a long time. Owing to these issues, the time had to be reduced from one or two years to nine months at a time.
Army families have life a little harder when it comes to moving from one place to another and this can either be around the United States or the entire world. There are a number of adjustments that have to be made especially concerning school, housing, environment, language and food. When my husband received his orders assigning him to South Korea, it was quite a shock at first, but I was relieved that he was not being assigned to Iraq or Afghanistan. If he had to go to one of those countries, bringing his family along with him would not have been an option. He would be leaving to South Korea with out me at first and I had to stay behind and move back in with my parents until we could get the paperwork started for me to come along with him. It was not easy for me as it was for him to just take off. Spouses have a large package of paperwork that has to be filled out by a doctor indicating that the medical records are up to date. After filling the paperwork, it has to be turned into my husband’s chain of command which could take three to nine months to be approved.
I had not lived in a country where my language was not the national language or had a mixed selection of culture. California, Texas, and Pennsylvania were nothing compared to where I was about to begin my life. I had to pack all the things that I intended to carry, but I was not allowed to carry everything, just two large suitcases and a carry on. Every country has different regulations about moving and South Korea happened to be one of the countries with a few more regulations in comparison to others. My flight was over fifteen hours long and we had to make a stop in Tokyo before arriving in South Korea. I knew things would be different there, but I was not prepared for what I saw when on arrival to the airport. I had never felt so lost now that everything was no longer in English and my phone was not even working so it was impossible for me to call my husband for help. I tried to spot those people who looked American so that I could ask them where I needed to go, but even they were from a different country and could not communicate in English either. My heart was now racing as I walked round in circles for about an hour looking for an information desk. Finally, I found an information desk that belongs to the military where I got the assistance that I required.
My husband came shortly after to pick me up and take me to where his military base was which was about two hours drive from the airport. There was a lot to be done the following day which included my registration into the system in order to go on base; shop at the grocery store and make purchases at the PX; a small Wal-Mart. Everything took several hours which dragged the entire process to over a week, but finally I was successfully registered. It was now possible for me to get around town now that I had started getting familiar with the surroundings. Dongducheon, South Korea was a much smaller town that was more Americanized with more people communicating in English and this is where my husband and I were going to be living for the next two years.
Throughout my stay in the different States in the United states, I noticed that all people are different having different accents, different words, slang words , cultures, rules, traditions and different forms of dressing due the variations in climate. In California and Texas, people dress very lightly as compared to other places because of the weather that is experienced there. However, In Pennsylvania; which is a really cold state and it only gets warm for three or four months, People dress in warm clothes and jackets for the extreme cold weather. I still remember when I used to live in Pennsylvania, it got so cold that I had to wear two pants, gloves and sometimes two sweaters and a jacket. I believe that Pennsylvania could also be among the most dangerous states because of the ice which has caused lots of accidents through the winter. Alternatively, People from Pennsylvania are really friendly, since the first day I arrived at Hazleton city all the American were really nice to me. People say that not everyone is like that in that city, but I had a good experience with the people there.
The army offers orientation to all the spouses for them to be aware of what is happening in South Korea and on base. On my first and last orientation we were notified that all the restrictions and rules that governed the soldiers also applied to the dependants. I thought why should we do the same if we are not soldiers? All people on a military base including soldiers, spouses and their children had to follow the same rules. I always try to follow the rules to the best of my ability because if I do not, my husband will have to be responsible for my actions. The life of army wives is not easy because we are also required to do evacuation training in case of an attack by North Korea. There are always rumors of attack by North Korea, but I have been here for almost two years and thank God nothing has happened yet. My sincere appreciation goes to Penn Foster and the army that is paying for my tuition I was able to carry on with my studies. I am happy that I will be finishing this course soon and I will have all the time to finish my Veterinary Technician Program with Penn Foster as well.
School has kept me very busy and I have not really had the time to learn all the traditions of South Korea. I am already aware of some few things about their culture, but to be honest I do not like it. They do not appreciate people talking in the train or dogs barking unless it is during the night. They also do not like it when one has a tattoo, they get scared a will not stop pointing fingers and staring. I can not wait to go back to the United States, but I am glad I met many army wives and got to visit very exciting places in South Korea.
Conclusively, living life as a military wife is not a simple affair; it is without doubt creditable and admirable. Being the wife to a military man is often considered to be a very dignified position, at the same time taking immense pride in the courageous men and women who have dedicate their lives to serving our great nation. Many army wives often move one state to the other as well as overseas together with their husbands and children when the army orders them to. Most women would not agree to this kind of a lifestyle where one keeps moving and this is what makes military wives so very special. There are various support groups that army wives can join when going through a difficult time dealing with the drastic changes in the family, as well as having a husband that is deployed in the war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s really stressful to be an army wife, but now that I have friends everything is going a lot smoother.