11 March 2011

Joining the Army

I'd known for awhile that Michael wanted to join the military.  He had wanted to join the marines, but because he has nystagmus, a birth defect that makes the signals in his eyes freak out, his eyes shake, and it can be weird if you're not used to it.  Usually people with nystagmus are blind, or have other brain defects, but other than some slight depth perception problems Michael has no other problems.  The army however has a waiver, and it's the only branch that does for nystagmus.  We went and talked to the recruiter, at the beginning of 2005, and we at first got all the paperwork together for the marines, and then switched over to army.  I insisted that Michael and I be married before he joined, if he was going to leave us, his family, behind.  Michael had no problems with that of course.

Things went quickly, at least for me, after he started really getting in the process in July.  He went to MEPS for his original medical and paperwork things, and then in August we found out his ship out date.  He'd be leaving for BCT on September 15, 2005.  It was pretty hard on me.  I was due December 1, with our daughter Jade.  Michael was set to graduate from BCT on November 23, 2005.  I went into labor with Jade on November 19, 2005, and Michael, since he was in the last week of BCT was able to come down for 2 days to meet his new daughter.  I was very grateful that he was able to do that.  Michael went straight to AIT at Fort Gordon.  He came home for exodus, and then back to Ft Gordon to finish out AIT.  He never "officially" graduated from AIT though as he left for Korea 2 days before his graduation occurred.  The kids and I did not accompany Michael to Korea, so after being gone for 5 months for BCT and AIT Michael again left, for a year, to another country.

My introduction to the army lifestyle was not ideal.  I wish I would have had some time with Michael before they kept us separated, but now, as we've been in for 5 1/2 years I think it was best.  I was thrown in, and had to either sink or swim.  I'm grateful to the army, and all the opportunities it provided for Michael.  He's great at his job, and for the most part loves it.  It challenges him, gives him the variety he needs, and it's a steady paycheck and decent healthcare for us.

At this point we're set for Michael to stay in for life, he loves serving our country and I'm 100% behind his decision.  It's a hard life, and as we're ending his 2nd deployment, 3rd separation in 5 years, I can say I'm tired of being both parents, I say kudos to single parents because this is way too hard, but I wouldn't change our life for anything.  I like knowing my husband is enjoying his job, and I'm able to stay home with the kids, which is important to us.  So I know at every reenlistment time, Michael will be signing that dotted line.