With so many tempting early buyout offers and the possibilities for a promising career outside of the Corps, we’ve been questioning, “should we stay or should we go?”. Not only are we asking ourselves this question, but it seems that it’s on our friends and family’s minds as well. It’s something many of us are facing with the impeding drawdown and the truth is, we’re at a fork in the road and once the decision is made, it’s final. If he re-enlists, it’s Marine Corps until retirement. He’s been in nine years, so we’re hopeful that he finds a government job which allows his time in service (TIS) to transfer towards his retirement.
From the beginning, I have always supported my husband being a Marine. He’s good at what he does and has received many accommodations. That being said, I know whichever path we decide to take, he will be a great civilian too. That’s not the part that is stressing me out.
The Marine Corps has always been one of the biggest pieces to our life puzzle. I met my husband when he was a Lance Corporal and married him the day he was promoted to Corporal. We had lengthy discussions to what being married to him and the Corps actually mean; my future husband doing his best to relay what I was getting myself into.
I felt ready to connect and wed my Marine. I grew up in a military town and most of my friends had parents in the Navy. I was around the base often, but never had my own ID card with access to base privileges like my friends did. I was a recent college grad, working two jobs and living in an apartment. Much to my surprise, I fell in love with a Marine… and that base I had been on so many times before, became the center of my existence.
After we married, we moved to Twentynine Palms, CA, where our “real” Marine Corps life began. The move was seamless, but I quickly discovered the harsh reality of workups for an Afghanistan deployment. We didn’t know how long the deployment would be or if there would even be communication. He was constantly away for training and I was forced to figure out our new town, take care of our daughter, prepare for our first deployment, and figure out this whole Marine wife thing all at the same time. There is no pep talk that prepares you for this journey!
Skip ahead a few years and we are now stationed aboard Camp Pendleton with our three kids. Ask us today what our plan is and we will say we are getting out of the Marine Corps. In a month or so, that could change. My husband is doing a lot of ground work to prepare for the transition. I kept saying he was starting the application process too early, but now we aren’t very far from his EAS (end of active service). His focus is to make sure we have a stable home, medical insurance, a salary that is at least equitable to what he makes now, and a job that he will allow him to be home with his family.
My focuses are a bit different. I recently started a new job and went to write an “about me” paragraph. I instantly started writing, “The wife of a Marine and mother to three children”. The Marine Corps has definitely shaped who I am today and the thought of living off base terrifies me and excites me. I’ve lived as a civilian before, but that memory seems so distant.
Numerous thoughts continually fill my mind: You mean to tell me I can actually paint my walls and I won’t be sharing a wall with a neighbor? But wait. How do I know who is driving down our street while our kids are outside playing? On base there is a different sense of security.
I am constantly asking my husband, “Are you getting out because of me?” I know he loves the Marine Corps and I never want his decision to be based on my selfishness of not wanting to be separated through more schools and deployments. He always answers that it’s important to him to watch our kids grow up firsthand and wants to relieve me from feeling like a single mom the majority of the time.
On the other hand, that also means no more homecoming butterflies and excitement; no more having the whole bed to myself; no more eating cereal as a quick dinner when he’s gone. Will I be able to handle being together on a constant basis? Since the beginning we’ve always had at least a month or two each year that we’ve been apart. And what about the friends we’ve made that are now family? Will getting out of the Marine Corps separate us from them? Our life will be different and the Marine Corps will be a memory.
Each day I find myself envisioning life as a civilian. Are we prepared for it? I find myself constantly thinking, “Will he miss being a Marine?” Right now, he is so focused on preparation for getting out. I often think he forgets why he’s always loved being a Marine. I try to remind him of all of the good we’ve received from the Corps. I’m not trying to convince him either way, but I want him to be aware of all sides. I never want him to resent me for the decision he makes. I have backed him up no matter which way he decides to go, even if that means two different decisions in one day.
I’m interested to see what my “about me” profile will look like in a year from now. As of today, we’re getting out of the Marine Corps. Job leads and dead ends consume our daily discussions. So far, our communication has been excellent concerning this transition. I feel that communication is key during any transition. Our marriage is strong, even though our future is uncertain. We’re confident we’ll be together, but as for location, who knows where we will finally plant our feet and lay down some roots!
Have you ever faced this situation? What experiences do you have?