This year I'll be celebrating 10 years of marriage - well, not legally, but 10 years committed to Trouble and the anniversary of our public ceremony in an OKC park. When we got married I had no idea what lay ahead of us (how many people really do) and I certainly didn't see our country being in a war for 7+ years. Trouble never was a school type - she always fit better with more "hands-on" kinds of learning and training - so I wasn't completely shocked about her decision to join the OK Air National Guard to become a flight medic. She was already an EMT and knew she wanted to go farther with her medical training. The guard would give her training, a job she couldn't do in the civilian world and the GI Bill would help her pay to go back to school for the medical career she discovered she really enjoyed. It made sense.
And then September 11th happened. And nothing made sense.
At the time, we were both working night shifts (I was working at 911 in Midwest City, OK and Trouble worked for an ambulance service in OKC) and we had come home from work that morning at 7 and fell into bed. A couple of hours later we were wakened by a phone call from a friend wanting to know when Trouble would be leaving - and had no idea what she was talking about. Talking about deployments was very premature at that time, but she eventually did go overseas. By the end of her enlistment and our first 8 years of marraige, Trouble had been away from me as much as she had been home with me. She had been to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and numerous other places and done all kinds of missions. I worried about her (ABSOLUTELY!) but I also always knew that I had it much easier than so many other military spouses. Her deployments were usually closer to 6 months long than a year or even two. Her role as a medic gave her certain considerations and treatment guidelines according to the Geneva Convention (if anyone actually considers following those rules - including the US). We also didn't have any kids to try to explain things to. However, we also had to hide our relationship and I never got the kind of recognition that other military family members get. On family day on the guard base, spouses and kids could see where their loved one worked, tour the planes, have a barbecue, etc. - I wasn't invited. There were always wonderful people who knew who I was and would make sure I'd hear the latest news, but that never stopped the hurt when there was a family event that I wasn't allowed to attend. It still hurts that I have to write this post without using her name so as not to break the rules of "Dont' Ask, Don't Tell."
So it's with mixed feelings that I now celebrate 10 years with Trouble. I love her as much as ever and continue to be proud of the work that she does. We're taking a fabulous dream vacation later in the year to celebrate our anniversary. She's also decided that she's re-enlisting in the Air Force, this time as a reservist rather than in the guard. She's joining a new unit but going to be doing the same job she had before. She has missed being a flight medic and hates that there is still so much to be done that she knows she can do. She made a lot of good friends in the AF and found her own kind of ministry in caring for her patients there. I can't not let her join. I also dread another deployment and another experience of counting on friends on the inside to keep her safe while keeping me informed when she can't contact me. We're going thru so many things as a country right now but I hope we don't lose sight of what's going on around the world, particularly with our military personnel and their loved ones - no matter what age, gender, or legal relationship they are in.