On being a military spouse

Although many of you already heard the news, I thought it might be something some of the rest of my SDMB friends might want to know.

My partner Q and I are almost to our second anniversary and are making lifetime plans. It’s great. He’s wonderful.

He’s also in the Navy. Last April he had to move across the country for a new assignment. We’ve been doing the long distance thing, but it wore heavy on us, so we were just in the process of deciding about me moving there (temporarily - we want to settle on the west coast once he gets out).

Last Thursday he was told to get ready to ship out to Iraq.

Yeah.

So it’s for a six month tour, which hopefully won’t get extended. It looks likely that he will be a field corpsman, which means he’ll be out in the field with a squad of Marines making sure they don’t bleed all over the sand. On the downside that means he’s going to be a tad closer to the action than either of us want. On the upside Marines tend to take care of their corpsmen, since they take care of them.

Very frustrating for both of us. We were totally freaking out the first couple of days, but we realize there’s nothing we can do about it, so we’re moving from “it only takes one zealot…” to “after I get home…”

He’s going to spend a week with his family next week, and then I’m going out for a week the following week. We have much to do while I’m there - although we have the option of flying up to Vermont or Massachusetts to get married, we can’t because he’s in the military; therefore we need to update wills, draw up powers of attorney, inform his family on how to get in touch with me (since the Navy doesn’t know I exist), etc. (I was relating all this to a female co-worker whose husband is in the Marines, and I think as I was telling her all this it really kind of hit her how difficult life can be for same-sex couples, especially in this kind of situation.) Of course when he gets back same-sex marriages will be legal all over the country and the military will allow openly gay servicepeople to serve and we can get married and… oh, no, wait, it won’t. Oh well. :frowning: (Needless to say when he gets out in 2007 the first thing we’re doing is going to Boston!) He can go and serve his country (in a pointless war, but I digress), but he can’t share in the benefits that country has to offer. Huh.

One of the difficult things I’m having trouble dealing with is that he joined the service to basically escape his parents, who all but imprisoned him when they found out he was gay. How ironic, of course, that all this should happen. In the meantime I really never thought we’d be dealing with this, nor that I would become such a stereotypical military spouse. Fortunately I’ve found some places with other military wives and husbands who are very supportive, and I’m glad for that. It’s going to be a tough six months for me, and even thougher knowing that I’ve got it easy compared to what he’s going to be going through.

I will ask, are there any other corpsmen out there, or people who have served in Iraq recently? Some realistic expectations might be helpful for me.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Esprix

I have no expertise on this situation, but this sucks on so many levels.

As a Gay man, I am damned proud of both of you!

This doesn’t help in your question, and hopefully someone will come along to give you better info…but after he returns, come to Las Vegas for a “honeymoon/marriage” and I will be more than willing to make the arrangements and make sure it is a memorable event!

My love, support and best wishes for you both, very sincerely!

One thing which I found very helpful when my Ex was sent overseas, was the support of other spouses in his unit. Canada also has a ‘Military Family Resource Centre’ at each of its bases.

I know this isn’t much help in your situation, but just know that we’re all here for you. Ookies!

Exprix, I know your pain.

My husband is currently in the middle of an 18 month deployment to Afghanistan. He’s been gone about 11 months so far and I can tell you it sucks a big part of the time.

I’m extremely proud of my husband for his service to our country. It’s a hardship, however, that most “civilians” won’t understand. I think that’s been the most frustrating part of the deployment for me. Practically every person that you meet will not understand the loss that you’re going through.

OK. Enough with the whining. Tips on how to survive …

(1) Remember, this is a time to just “get through”. Don’t try to put too much pressure on yourself to tackle huge projects but rather focus on taking life one day at a time.

(2) Try to find a supportive Family Support Group in your area. Plus, keep in touch with Q’s unit’s Family Support Group as they will have information about the deployment and when they’re expected to return home.

(3) Find and use the resources the military has available to spouses and families. My husband’s in the Army so I don’t know any of the Navy contacts but I’m sure a few simple Google searchs will get you more information than you want.

(4) Since Q will be attached to the Marines, I don’t know what to expect in the way of communication with him. My husband has fairly regular access to the internet where we can email (and sometimes even instant message). Once every few weeks he can get a call off to me.

(5) Keep busy. You can wallow in self pity but I cant tell you that you won’t feel one bit better. :wink:

(6) Keep a sense of humor. You can only accept the situation you and Q are in so you might as well laugh as much as you can.

(7) Trust the official information from the chain of command. Don’t believe everything you hear. I was worried originally about our families starting and spreading rumors. I’ve found that the soldiers are just as bad (if not worse) at spreading rumors.

(8) One of the things I’ve been enjoying the most was shopping for my husband. He’s stationed in a Forward Operating Base and his living conditions were primitive. Every time I went to the grocery, I would look for goodies to send to him like microwave meals, popcorn, sweet treats, etc. They don’t have a lot of room for too much “stuff” but they can’t seem to get enough junk food.

I’ve also had my personal depression/anxiety meltdown which resulted in a few days in the hospital and new drugs.

I’m the Family Support Group Leader for my families so if there’s anything I can ever do for you, my email’s in my profile.

Good Luck and Keep in Touch!

I kinda know how you feel. I’m a Navy wife and I hate it. My husband is on a fast attack sub so I don’t really get to know where he is. Most of the time neither does he. It makes me nervous.

His first deployment is scheduled at the end of March right before our first child is due. Neither one of us are happy about that.

I know that what you’ll be going through is worse since you have no official standing according to the military. Be careful who you trust. Gossip spreads quickly in the military. Watch what you say in emails. I know that my husband’s gets screened by the CO or XO.

Best of luck.

Esprix, you hang in there. You’ve got a load of love coming your way up from the Great Frozen North. waves big heart, chucks it Esprix’s way

Just a question…how much of this can the partner of a gay serviceman actually use without getting his partner in “don’t ask, don’t tell” trouble?

a fucking serious amount. The whole military support system is TOTALLY out of the question, other than us military spouses on the SDMB. Ok, so mrAru retired after 20, but I still count myself a military spouse, and anything I can do to help, just ask.

Esprix, I’ve got no practical advice for you other than to keep being as strong as you both obviously are. Enjoy the time you’ve got now with him. Try not to worry too much, since that’s not going to do anyone any good. (Easier said than done, I know).

I vaguely can commiserate - my sister is graduating from the Air Force academy this spring. She’s on the ‘grad-school-then-teach’ route, and even if that went all skewy, she’d still be relatively safe, being a she. But she does have a number of friends, some of whom I’ve met, who are in Iraq. One of the guys I worked with this summer is also over there right now. It’s scary as hell, but we’ve got some incredible people over there.

Best wishes. And you know we’re all always here for you.

When Ivylad was in the Navy I hooked up with a couple of wives that were on his submarine. We spent a lot of time together during his Med run (six months gone.)

Since he’s under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule, I would suggest looking for support outside the military, with your other friends and family. It doesn’t matter where the company and support come from, as long as you have it.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but be careful what you say in your letters to him and what care packages you send. You don’t want his superiors to start asking questions.

And tell him Thank You.

This is unrelated to the OP, but related to my post above. By a strange bit of coincidence, the woman who worked at the Yellowknife Family Resource Center was our own Canadian Sue’s sister, Anne. She was a beautiful, wonderful, caring woman. She passed away from breast cancer awhile back, but she will never know how very helpful she was to me when the system failed me.

Exprix, I don’t want to steer you wrong. The military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is still alive and well. Many “military types” are extremely anti-gay and could make trouble for you and Q.

I just IM’d with my husband and he confirmed that you SHOULD be able to get any information that any “significant other” can get, just not the benefits available to military spouses. It should be fairly easy to be sure that you get a copy of a newsletter and any official information about the unit.

I’m afraid as much as a moderate/conservative as I am, on this issue I’m as blue as Monica’s dress. You SHOULD be able to openly be a partner of a soldier/sailor/marine/etc. when it comes to getting information during a deployment.

Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

You might even see if there’s a support group for military SOs within the GLBT community.

That said, the above advice is good. The cardinal rule for military communications is that you must always assume that letters, e-mails, and packages are opened and inspected. Don’t send him anything that might make his superiors raise an eyebrow. News, weather, and sports is a good guideline. IOW, don’t write anything in a letter that you wouldn’t want to see published in the newspaper.

Robin

There definitely is. I found this article which I read with tears in my eyes a few months ago. It mentions this site which may be a good resource for you, Esprix. I have so sorry you have to go through this. It’s wrong on so many levels.

This may be hard to believe, but English is my first language.

Sigh.

Esprix, I’m afraid I don’t have any advice. I just wanted to let you know that a DopeFest in Boston in 2007 is now on the calendar. I know you and Q will be there happy, healthy, and together.

Esprix,

I am so sorry that you are facing such a horrible separation. I don’t understand how our country has allowed hate to define laws once again and allowed such a horrible unfair situation fester. I was taught in school that every minority has fought for the right to serve our country, and eventually their service was welcomed, and we now realize how wrong we were to exclude them. I hope that gays are added to that list in the current events section soon.

Illinois passed a law recently affording gay and trans individuals equal protection. No same sex marriage, yet, but there are established politicians who are speaking out for it in Chicago. These guys know which way the wind is blowing and their support is a good augury that this will be law in their lifetime. They are not young either.

I hope Q comes home to you safe and with an honorable discharge. Don’t let him accept anything less than honorable either, not even as a way to get out quicker. Too many service men, back from the first gulf war, took the general discharge to end their service commitments and they are finding many obstacles to getting services and even getting any job.

First, let me thank everyone who replied way back when - much appreciated. Then, let me give a little update.

We’ve survived fairly well over the past 5 months, mostly because he ended up at a fairly good base, and I discovered City of Heroes. :slight_smile:

The best news of all is that his scheduled return date is September 9. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel! Huzzah!

Again, thanks for all your input. Q and I both appreciate it.

Esprix

K. So, you can be legally married in Massachusetts, but only if you’re not in the military? WTF? Over.

Good luck wit all dat.

Eprix, do you know there is a City of Hero’s Cecil supergroup on Virtue. Check the thread on Cafe Society if you haven’t.