Marina Sassone

Marina is the wife of Josh Presser. Josh served in the Air Force and deployed to Iraq and Haiti. Their time in the Air Force took them to bases in Lakenheath, England, South Carolina and New Jersey. Marina describes the joys and challenges that she and some of the other military families around her experienced while Josh deployed. They currently live in White Plains, New York.

Josh's interview can be found here.


Interview conducted on September 19, 2015 in Valhalla, New York

Present: Richard Hayden and Marina Sassone

Transcribed by Richard Hayden


Richard Hayden: What is your full name?

Marina Sassone: Marina Sassone.

RH: What branch of the military did your husband serve in and what years?

MS: United States Air Force, 2006 to – he just got out – 2015. Right? [thinks a moment] Yeah. [laughs] Sorry!

RH: That’s alright! That’s cool. What are some of the places that he was stationed?

MS: He was in Lakenheath – that was in England. Well, this is all the places I went with him. He was in Lakenheath, we were in South Carolina and we were in New Jersey. Those were our bases that we lived at. And then he was deployed to Haiti and he went to Bulgaria at one point. He went to Iraq and just little TDYs to Vegas and that was fun – not really. [laughs]

RH: Alright. So how did you two meet?

MS: We actually had a lot of mutual friends. We really didn’t hang out in high school even though we went to the same high school. Josh is two years older than me but we actually were just in the Bahamas together. Some of his friends and some of my friends were in the Bahamas and we all just wound up hanging out and then we just hit it off and all of a sudden we came home and his sister was like, “are you my brother’s girlfriend?” I was like, “wow. OK. That was fast.” [both laugh] But, yeah. So then after that it was just kind of like we were together on and off and then once he joined the military he kind of had this epiphany that I meant everything in the world to him. [laughs]

RH: Where did you guys get married?

MS: We actually got married in White Plains at the courthouse. We didn’t tell anyone. He already left to go to Lakenheath to England so we were trying to find every way in the world for me to join him over there. However, if anyone knows what the ratio is to living over there it was like two American dollars to one British pound so we would have never afforded it with his Airman basic pay and me. I was just a bartender at the time and going to school so I would have never afforded it. So, basically, we were kind of like, “the only way to make this work is to get married.” And he still proposed. He still proposed while I was over there in November and we got married January 24, 2007. So we’ve been married for almost nine years.

RH: OK. Alright. Great. After you guys were married, you went over to live with him in Lakenheath?

MS: Yes. So we got married in January and I visited in March. I saw our new house. Because we were married Josh got a house and all that and I went and moved there full time in July of 2007. So I packed up and moved across the world [laughs] at twenty. And my family wasn’t too thrilled. No one knew we were married. We hid it from everyone.

RH: Oh wow.

MS: Not my mom, not my dad, not anybody because my sister was actually getting married in June of that year and we were like, “eh, let’s not steal the thunder. Let’s not just tell anyone and we’ll tell them eventually.” That’s what we did. [laughs]

RH: Alright. Good to go. Where were you on September 11th?

MS: I was in Earth Science class with Miss Chinofsky. [laughs] The security guards actually came around they told us to – Miss Chinofsky came back in and she said, “America is under attack but that doesn’t mean that life in Earth Science is not going to go on today.” I think that was her way of trying to make the situation not sound as big as it was. We were allowed to turn on all the TVs in class and then afterward it was just kind of like, “alright. What do we do now?” Everyone was kind of in a panic. The hallways were in a panic. My brother finally called me two periods later in the day and was like, “you are not staying in school.”  He took me out and we just sat and watched everything on TV with my mom. Everyone was home so that was my day.

RH: Alright. You were in White Plains High School, correct?

MS: Yes. I was a freshman.

RH: What was life in White Plains like in the weeks and months following September 11th?

MS: I feel like White Plains, New York, everything as a whole I felt like it was just so much more united. I feel like everybody would be a little more courteous and everyone was a little more helpful. A lot of the biases were just set aside because everyone was just like, “wow. We just went through this awful tragedy.” And I think that’s one of the biggest things that makes New Yorkers New Yorkers. We’ve got attitudes, we’re nasty but the minute that something happens we’re all united. So I feel like everything was a little somber but united.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Was Josh in Iraq or did he also go to Afghanistan?

MS: He was just in Iraq.

RH: Just in Iraq. OK. How many times did he deploy to Iraq?

MS: He only deployed to Iraq once.

RH: OK. Do you remember the dates of those deployments?

MS: He left in December and came back, I think, May or June. So it was December 2008, I think, and then he came back May/June of ’09. And then we left England in September.

RH: What do you remember most about Lakenheath when you first got there?

MS: Well, when I first got there I was just miserable [laughs] because growing up in White Plains, New York I had everything at my fingertips. I could just go to the Dunkin’ Donuts and go everywhere that I needed and England wasn’t so much like that. So it was a little bit of a culture shock but I just remember getting there and being like, “wow. You could essentially never leave this base if you wanted to.” There’s a bar-slash-club, there’s two banks, there’s somewhere to shop, there’s a grocery store, there’s living facilities. You could literally never leave that base and it was strange but comforting because it was like, “let me get my way around the base. Let me learn the base, let me learn everything and then I’ll learn all the outside stuff,” which is what we did. We kind of took time. But it was interesting to come from White Plains where we don’t see too much military activity or military people at all and then just everywhere – it was everywhere. So it was a little bit like, “whoa! I live in military land.” [laughs]

RH: [laughs] That’s cool. So this is a two part question. What were the locals on the base like and then what were the locals – the English locals – outside of the base like?

MS: Getting there we also met a lot of new people. I worked with some people who were British and they just would work on the base and I also worked with people who were just military and I worked with people who were military spouses from all over. So I met people from Arkansas, Texas, Saint Louis. We met people from everywhere and that was also interesting because you think you know so much and you’re in this melting pot in New York but you don’t realize how people from other parts of the country are. It’s almost that we were a little shocked at how people did things from other parts of the country. It’s like, “you’re not even from a different part of the world.” But it feels like it, kind of, coming from New York.

But the people as a whole for me, everybody was very nice. Meeting me at Josh’s shop, they all would try to have things to have camaraderie, especially with the younger guys who were there. All the older guys would take them under their wing. Like he said, his superior Brooker was such a good guy. Him and his wife would just always take everybody under their wing and just do what they could.

And the British people, I mean, they were cool. There was nothing, really, that I have. Not here nor there, I feel. They were nice. Anybody outside the base I feel like could tell that we were American but they were cool. They were just drinking a lot – drinking at lunch. [both laugh] I was like, “alright. England’s pretty cool. It’s pretty lax.” [laughs]

RH: That’s cool. [laughs] When you got to the base, were you able to get a job? What were you doing?

MS: I was initially – Josh didn’t want me to go back to bartending. I had been bartending at Pizzeria Uno in White Plains when I left and he didn’t necessarily want that for me so I didn’t apply to the bar on base. We hardly even went to the bar on base when we first got there. Then I was working in a jewelry shop – an Italian jewelry shop – in the PX and I was like, “this is just not covering it.” I was overworked and not paid enough. I was paid in British pounds but I just was doing a lot to upkeep the store and I was like, “this is ridiculous. I could be making a lot more money.” So when Josh went to Bulgaria, he was gone for three weeks so I applied to the club while he was gone. [laughs] He wasn’t too thrilled when I told him that I had an interview with them but I was like, “listen, I’m going to make some money.” So after all was said and done it was all about how much I was bringing in after that.

RH: So you got the job?

MS: I got the job. For the remainder of the time there I was working at the club as a bartender and a server.

RH: Good to go. In the days and the weeks leading up to his deployment, how did you feel and, maybe, what were some of the things that you were going through?

MS: So he was leaving around Christmastime and, initially, they had said he was going to leave on Christmas Eve and that was such a damper. Christmas Eve is like my favorite holiday. So in order for them to say that he was leaving on that day, it was just really, really hard. Essentially, it was hard to begin with but then being like, “OK. My Christmas is going to be spent saying goodbye to my husband.” But he wound up leaving a few days later.

We were just anxious. I didn’t really know exactly what was going on, what he was going to do. I knew he was going to do his job there and I knew he would be relatively safe but you never know. So I was just anxious. I feel like that was pretty much anxious and it was the first Christmas we hadn’t gone home because he was leaving so soon. It was a lot of different things going on. We missed our family, we weren’t going home for a while. He was leaving. There was just a lot of mixed emotions just not knowing what was going to happen. Anxious is probably the best way to describe what was going on.

RH: So what day did he eventually leave?

MS: I think it was the 27th or the 28th of December and then I even offered to work New Year’s Eve at my job because I was just like, what am I going to do otherwise, you know? My husband’s on a plane going to Iraq. What am I going to do? So he left a couple days after Christmas so we got to spend Christmas together which was a total plus.

RH: Good to go. What was it like the day he left?

MS: It was kind of weird. We kind of woke up and realized that this is the day and we had to go basically say our goodbyes and everything. It was almost surreal because you don’t feel like you’re not going to see that person for a long time. You give them a tight hug and a kiss and another tight hug and another tight hug but you don’t really feel like you’re going to be separated for the long period of time that you are until a couple of months down and you’re like, “wow. I haven’t seen them since December 27th or 28th.” Whatever it was. So I feel like that’s when it really sets in.

RH: In the first couple weeks and months, what were you doing and how did your life change?

MS: First couple of weeks I was just trying to keep busy. I was still in school and I was working so I really just tried to pick up any extra shifts that I could. I didn’t want to be home. I would stay up all night watching Grey’s Anatomy. My sister sent me every season of Grey’s Anatomy there was until that current season and I watched them every night because I couldn’t sleep. I would just stay up and then I’d be like, “OK.” I’d sleep with some of the lights on. It was weird very to be by myself. I was very safe. I was on the base and my best friends lived next door, I was safe there but it just felt weird to be in a house alone. It was the first time living there that I was really alone for more than two and a half, three weeks. So it was weird.

It also just taught me to be independent. Josh had helped with some of the chores in the house like taking the garbage around and doing some of the more manly jobs per se – doing the garbage, doing the lawn, doing things. It was the first time I ever turned on a lawnmower in my life. [laughs] And I had to mow the lawn because we lived on base and if you didn’t keep the lawn then you got a notice. So in order to not get a notice, I had to mow the lawn and it was the first time I’ve ever mowed a lawn in my life.

There was something empowering about being alone and doing all those things and it definitely gave me a sense of independence because I was in a foreign country, I was by myself, my husband was deployed and I was still making it. So I kind of felt a sense of pride in the fact that I was fine but I had a really good core group. Their husbands deployed as well at the same time so one of them was my best friend Sadie and the other one was Valerie. Their husbands deployed as well at the same time so we were like, the three of us were just, “who’s cooking dinner tonight? Who’s doing this?” In one of the houses, my friend Sadie had two kids so we would bring her over and we’d bring the kids over and we’d have sleepovers. It was just like we were teenage girls just getting through. Without them I don’t know that I would have been able to do it as strong as I did but it definitely gave me a sense of independence. We all just were there for each other.

RH: Nice. What were some of the support networks that you had? You had your friends and who else?

MS: They did offer some stuff. Some of the higher up’s wife would offer. “Let’s do a dinner. Let’s do this.” I was working a lot so I didn’t really care to do that stuff. I wasn’t a gung-ho military wife. I was definitely in there and I was definitely supportive of Josh and the military and all of that but it wasn’t like I’m going to join all of the little groups and be the enlisted spouse club and this and that. None of that was where I was at. I just wanted to go to work, do a lot of work, keep busy. They did offer support. There was different outlets on the base that you could go talk to this one or this but I never really utilized them so I can’t say specifically what or how they worked.

RH: What were some of your greatest concerns while Josh was deployed?

MS: I tried not to think about it. I tried not to think about what could happen. I mean, I knew that they would do combat landings and I knew that. Just being naïve and I’m like, “oh, I hope this plane is OK doing the combat landing and I hope no one blows up the plane on the way down.” But I didn’t realize, I guess, until he had told me about the – he told me about the one time that they got attacked. He told me about the one time outside his tent and it might have even been that we were fighting over something while he was there and he was like, “you don’t even realize! A rocket came over my tent!” And I was like, “now I can’t be mad at you!” [laughs] But I didn’t realize everything that was happening. I just was a little bit naïve. I knew that there were mortars and this and that flying in but I felt like his base was safe but once he came home and told me a little more I was like, “OK. I guess you weren’t as safe as I thought you were.”

I guess I just tried to put it out of mind that anything could really happen to him. Any time I’d watch anything or any time they’d say – they were still doing a lot of coverage at that time – they were like, “oh, this blew up in Iraq or this happened or this.” I’d be like, “I don’t know if that’s near Josh.” I don’t know where, geographically, exactly he was compared to where they were talking about. You just don’t know. But he would call me every couple of days. I would hear from him and be like, “alright. He’s safe,” you know? I heard his voice. We’re good. A major concern was that he was going to be OK but any time he called I knew he was good. I got a weird number on my phone and I was like, “alright! Gotta pick it up!” [laughs]

RH: Alright. Good to go. What were some of the concerns of your friends or some of the other spouses around you? Were they having similar concerns?

MS: I feel like they were. I feel like it was just, pretty much, the same. We all would talk about it. The one friend, her husband was – I think he was in – he was at a different base. He’s the one that Josh used to call on the DSN line all the time. I guess they would talk so we knew they were OK. She would talk to him so we knew they were OK. I think all of us would just kind of be like, “OK. Is everyone safe?” -type thing. “Did you hear from them?”

I mean, the other concerns were just home concerns. “I usually rely on my husband for this and I did it.” So it was kind of like that stuff too where you felt like you had to pitch in with each other because the husband used to do this job and maybe you need to do it or they got a flat tire and you need to go pick them up instead of their husband. That stuff as well because that’s all the stuff that’s happening while they’re away. You can’t concern them with your flat tire when they’re in a warzone. [both laugh]

RH: That’s cool. How did your family and Josh’s family feel about the deployment?

MS: I think that they were very proud that he was serving and that he was doing a job that had meaning. My mom’s a worrywart and she was just very much like, “what happened?” Anything she saw on TV, “is Josh OK?” I‘d be like, “it’s fine. Don’t worry me.” I’m definitely one of those people who doesn’t worry until there’s something to worry about. I try to just remain as calm as I can for anything because I don’t like to get worked up over things that I can’t control. My mom is like the exact opposite. She’s like, “oh my God, this just happened in Iraq. Is Josh there? Is he over here?” And I’d be like, “I don’t know. Let’s pump the brakes and we’ll talk about it when I hear from him.” [laughs] But his mom was, obviously, she was very upset. She came out to visit us, I think, that November before he left. She came out and we spent some time together. We FaceTimed on Christmas day with everyone. We did presents and all that.

I think everybody had a sense of pride in everybody but they were also just very, very worried. Like I said, other parts of the country, people join the military every day and they go off and, at that point, a lot of their friends and family members were going to war. But coming from White Plains we’re so sheltered because so little, such a little amount of people from this area, really join the military. I happen to know a lot of them, I feel like. [laughs] I feel like a lot of people just do other things – go off to college, do whatever, get a trade – but it’s just, I don’t know, I feel like it’s different because it was kind of like, “oh my God. Josh was in Iraq,” and we don’t know anybody else that’s been to Iraq except for Pat and those guys. That was pretty much it. We were like, “wow.” So everybody was very concerned but also had a sense of pride that Josh was doing his job in the military and did deploy and was officially going to become a veteran so it was kind of a little bit of both.

RH: Alright. Good to go. What were some of the notable events that occurred during Josh’s deployment aside from some of the stuff you already told me?

MS: Hmm. I’m trying to think about anything. Well, he was pretty much gone for about six months. Nothing too crazy happened in my life, I think. We got new orders. That was one of the things that was pretty crazy. We got new orders to Idaho and he called me and, the days leading up, he was like, “oh, we’re going to go to Idaho.” I was like, “what do you mean we’re going to go to Idaho?” He was like, “yeah, that’s where our new base is – Mountain Home.” I freaked out. I was like, “I hate you. I hate the military! I hate everything about this life,” – which was a lie. [laughs] But it was like, “don’t talk to me.” I think that might have even been the time when he was like, “you don’t even know what’s been going on over here.” But that was something big that was happening in our lives but we weren’t together to discuss it. We couldn’t really discuss it for more than fifteen minutes at a time so instead of actually having a discussion, we had to be like, “I hate you! You joined the military and now I’m going to Idaho.” Click. [motions phone hanging up] It didn’t make any sense but that was the way things were going.

I feel like, aside from that, he went into his deployment when Obama was getting elected and I know that that was a big thing for them over there that things were happening and all that. But it’s funny because he was talking about his experience with the inauguration day and, meanwhile on base, we were playing a drinking game where every time they said “Obama” you had to take a sip of your drink. It’s crazy to see that Josh was going through a crazy time and we were sipping a drink. It’s just kind of like, you can see where that luxury of what your life is versus who’s out there fighting for what you’re doing now. I’m sipping a drink and they’re getting mortar attacked so it kind of put things into perspective when he told me about that.

RH: Alright. Good to go. What do you remember most about the airmen that Josh served with?

MS: They were fun. They were definitely good people. He became very close with a lot of them, especially once he deployed. When he deployed he came back and he didn’t really want to hang out with me. I was pretty offended. I was like, “you haven’t seen me in five or six months yet you don’t want to hang out with me. I don’t understand.” I was pretty hurt by it. He was like, “no. I want to see you. Can this and this and this person come with us?” I was like, “sure, they can come to dinner.” We had a party for a friend going away and those guys didn’t know anybody and Josh was like, “well, I want them to come.” But I felt like maybe Josh felt like he didn’t know anybody anymore either except for me so maybe that was his safety net.

I was offended but my friend who also deployed at the same time – she had gone to Bagram, I think – she came back and she was like party girl, this and that. She was like, “oh, everybody that I deployed with, we’re going to London. We’re spending the night, we’re spending a couple of days there.” And I was like, “What about your significant other?” And she was like, “yeah, he can wait.” And I’m like, “but he hasn’t seen you. What is with you people? Josh is doing the same thing to me.” And she was like, “Marina, you don’t understand what it’s like to live day in and day out doing the same thing with the same people in a hostile environment. When you get home, you just want to enjoy doing something different and living life normally as much as you can when you get back.” So that was the only way that I put things into perspective to say, “OK. I’ll let Josh slide.” Because otherwise, I was super offended. I was like, “why does he not want to hang out with me?” But once she kind of reiterated why, it made sense but he never really conveyed that to me. It was more like I was just sitting there, “why do we need to hang out with your friends every day when you haven’t seen me in six months?” [laughs] So that was pretty much it.

RH: Alright. Good to go. What was the most challenging period of his deployment: the beginning, the middle or the end?

MS: I feel like, for me, it was the beginning because I was still learning how. I had to learn how to live in a house without him. I had to learn that everything I did was going to be with myself or with my two girlfriends who were, you know, their husbands were deployed as well. It was kind of like we had to relearn my whole life for a little bit. In the beginning I needed some time and I needed to get all that sorted but once I knew he was coming home it was just a countdown, a countdown, a countdown. The middle wasn’t too bad. I just felt like it was like, “alright, we’ve done half. We can make it through the other half.”

The most terrible part of the end was just the last week or so. “Oh, we’re coming home! No we’re not. We’re coming home! No we’re not. I can’t say too much. I don’t know where we’re going to land,” or this and that. “When are you getting here? I need to know!” But my job was very cool and I could be like, “Josh got his date to come home. I’m not coming in,” and they were fine. But I would say definitely the beginning because it just was a whole new world. The first one, two months that I was learning to live in England by myself and just doing everything independently.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Did you have any transformative or significant events that happened while Josh deployed, maybe aside from what you already told me?

MS: I don’t feel like anything was too, I don’t know, too transformative. Like I said, really just the independence thing. All three of us girls that just became each other’s family. I mean, that’s the biggest thing for me was that Josh became family with those guys that he deployed with and I became family with these two girls. They were my best friends in the world and we celebrated every holiday together. When you’re away like that, that’s your family. And so that’s my biggest thing that I took out of his deployment was that I had those two people. We kept each other sane and they kind of helped me like Josh was with his people. That was like nothing really transformative but it was like that was the biggest thing – I having those people and him having his people. It kind of set things.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Before we move on to Josh coming home, is there anything else about the deployment maybe that I left out that is significant?

MS: No, I don’t think so. No.

RH: Alright. Good to go. What was it like the week before he came back? You talked a little bit about that.

MS: Everything was kind of up in the air. I think his plane broke at one point and so he was supposed to come home a certain date and then it got pushed back and it got pushed back and it got pushed back. I think they were sitting in Qatar or something and Josh was like, “I don’t understand why they can’t get this part to this plane.” And then they flew into Germany and then they flew home. But that week there was a lot of anxieties going on. Do I look good? Is my house clean? Is he going to be happy to be back? You know, just kind of all that stuff. I had to kind of think about everything. What should I cook for him that day? It was a lot of little anxieties and then not know what exact day he was coming it was like, “OK. I’m going to make the chicken parm but when?” [laughs] So it was just waiting was the toughest part.

RH: What was it like the night he got back?

MS: I feel like we just met them right by the airport terminal by their job and it was very exciting. He was very happy to be back. They had to go say hello to everybody at their job and then we went home and it was just kind of like, “oh my God! You’re here! You’re back!” It was a very, very good happy day. I felt like we were safe. We were good. He was home and I was like, “OK. I hope you don’t have to do this again because I like having you here.” [laugh] It was a good day. It was a good day to have him home.

RH: Alright. Good to go. What was the best and the worst part about having him back?

MS: The best part was that I had him back. We were living together again. We were just doing everything together aside from when he would have his friends come along as well. [laughs]

The worst part was getting readjusted. I was living in the house by myself and I did my laundry, I cleaned my side, I did this, I did that. But then he got back and I’m like, “you’re not picking up this and you left dishes in the sink and you did this.” So it was like I was nitpicking in a lot of little things just because I had been used to my own way. He was gone for a certain period of time and I got into a whole new set of ways and this is how I do this, this day I do that. I do laundry. But he got back and kind of shuffled all that up and I was like, “oh. OK.” [both laugh] But it took a little time to bring everything together again but that was kind of the worst part, just get readjusted to living in the same place together again, you know? Living alone for six months you kind of just, “OK. This is how I do things.” And then he came back and, “why are you doing it like that?” [laughs] That’s not my way but obviously we’re two different people. We had to put everything back together again.

RH: Good to go. How did the other spouses around you change after their spouses returned?

MS: I feel like we were all in the same boat. Like I said, I feel like there was a few of us even from my core group and then there was a couple of people that we talked to outside of that that also had people deployed. Some of them were used to it. Some of them were a little older and their husbands had gone before. They had gone and come back. Same routine, they knew how to take it. My one friend Valerie, her husband came back and he had already deployed the year prior so she knew, kind of, how to get things back into the right way. She was a little better at it than myself. And my friend Sadie – I think kind of the same. He came back and she was just like, “OK.” They had two kids but they were leaving in August – no – they were leaving in September as well so they kind of were more like, “let’s get our kids and our belongings together and everything and try to get everything sorted to leave.” Whereas I was just like, “what? Josh is back?” [RH laughs] I was just in my own world but I think everyone just did something different to kind of adjust to getting back. That was maybe – my way was, “you’re in the house.” But they felt the same way. I’d be like, “ah! Josh is leaving his socks and this and his boots.” And they’d be like, “I know! I know! There’s stuff everywhere and we had the house so clean.” You know? So it was all kind of the same complaints. We would call each other, “is this happening to you?” “Yes!”

RH: That’s cool. After he got back you were in Lakenheath for a couple of months, is that correct?

MS: Yes.

RH: Did you end up going to Idaho?

MS: No.

RH: So what happened?

MS: So, crazily enough, I was sitting at work one day. Josh had come home. After his deployment he came home Fourth of July or so and I didn’t. I decided that it didn’t make sense to have two people fly home. I had just been home in February while he was gone. He hadn’t been home or seen anyone since, whatever, maybe the summer before so he wanted to get home and see everyone even though we were flying home a couple of months later. He went home for, I think, a week and a half or two weeks.

He called me and he’s like, “I got this opportunity.” And I was like, “well, OK.” He’s like, “would you rather go to South Carolina or Idaho? I need to know.” I was like, “South Carolina.” And he was like, “OK. Well, are you sure?” And I’m like, “yes I’m sure. I don’t want to be a six hour plane ride away in Idaho when I could be a two hour plane ride in South Carolina. I would rather just be closer to my family – as close as I can get.” If we were going on a six hour plane ride we might as well stay in England. [laughs] So he called me back again and he was like, “alright. I don’t want to promise anything but when our orders come down, they should be for Shaw in South Carolina.” And I was like, “Oh my God!” I felt like it was such a godsend. Then we wound up going to South Carolina. We were there for eleven months.

RH: OK. It was Shaw Air Force Base?

MS: Yes.

RH: What was Shaw like?

MS: Shaw was different. Coming from an overseas base and then to that base, it was just like, the camaraderie was different. We had never been to a base together, living on a base together, except for overseas. And the overseas bases – those people are your family. The Christmas parties are huge. The Thanksgivings, you know someone, if their spouse isn’t there you cook for them. You do that. It just wasn’t the same in South Carolina when we got there and Josh kind of felt it too. He was like, “my shop is different. The feel is different. No one’s really looking out for you like they were overseas.” And I was like, “you’re right,” because I didn’t meet too many people. We fell in with a couple of people. One of our good friends, they live in Alaska now. We’re actually the godparents to their children but they were really the only people that we kind of meshed with military-wise and it was just kind of strange to me because it was the first time that we had gone somewhere and I felt there was no family unit in the shop. So it was definitely a different experience going there.

RH: So he deployed to Haiti while you guys were in South Carolina, correct?

MS: Yes.

RH: So what were the days and the weeks or so leading up to that deployment like?

MS: So that, I was kind of like, “I don’t know what you’re going to be doing.” And then they changed where he was going and what he was doing, like, seven times. First he was going to go to Miami and be there for six months to offer support to the planes going into Haiti. That was the initial job that he was supposed to do and then, a couple weeks before he was going to leave to do that, “hey! Just kidding. Do you have a passport?” And Josh was like, “yeah, I have a passport.” And they were like, “alright. We’ll get back to you.” And then all of a sudden his orders shifted and they were like, “you’re actually going to go live in Haiti, right on the airport, for a little while.” And he was like, “OK.” But they took a long time to actually get him out. He went to Charleston and I think he was in Charleston for two weeks before they even got them out but because there was so many planes that were just taking supplies and this and that they weren’t trying to get too many other things – except I think it was the people from North Carolina. I don’t remember what the unit is. They were taking up all the airspace so Josh and them were just waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for an airplane to go in.

We lived in Sumter, South Carolina which is an hour and a half from Charleston. I visited him, like, three times and then he’d be like, “OK. We’re leaving tomorrow.” So we’d say goodbye and then he’d call me and be like, “alright babe. If you have a couple days off come out again because I’m not leaving yet.” [RH laughs] And then I’d be like, “alright.” So we said goodbye for Haiti a bunch of times but then once he actually went it was like, “OK. He left now.” But that was just a little more like are you leaving or are you not? Are you leaving or are you not? So it wasn’t as anxiety filled as when he left for Iraq and, plus, I thought that this one would maybe be a little shorter. It wound up being about three months but I thought it was going to be, “oh, you’ll be back in a month. You’ll be back in three weeks. No big deal.” So I felt that one was going to be fine, easy.

RH: Aside from the time differences, what were some of the differences between that deployment and the Iraq deployment?

MS: So the Iraq deployment I was a little more concerned with, you know, “OK. We didn’t hear from him for two days. Things might be bad.” Like I said earlier I tried not to worry until worry was due but those things were always kind of in the back of your mind in the Iraq deployment. But this deployment, I didn’t really know what they were doing at all. I was like, “I don’t know what your experience is. I don’t know what you’re doing.” He’d call me and be like, “oh, I’m literally eating MREs every day. I’m living on the base and it smells horrible – not the base, the airport –and it smells horrible over here and we’re doing this.” I remember specifically he was a driver in Haiti. They were like, “Oh, you’re from New York?” He was like, “yeah.” “OK. You drive people around because you’re probably a really aggressive driver and that’s how they drive here.” Alright. I know at one point he did that.

I know he did some rescue and recovery but at that point there was not really anybody to rescue. It was more of a recovery mission. So that part was different because he was going through a different experience. In Iraq he was never outside the gate really. He was never involved and embedded into anything so traumatic. He never really saw that stuff and then when he went to Haiti and had to do those missions that was really what was different. I feel like maybe more so  that changed him than Iraq. Iraq was just like, he did it. He went and did his job. It was a little scary – there was some scary moments, some firing going on – but I think in Haiti it changed who he was a little bit because he saw a lot of, you know, not so nice things.

RH: Did you have a similar support structure? Actually, what were you doing while he was gone? Were you working?

MS: Yes. Once again I had found a bar in downtown Sumter and I worked there. I had a couple of really good friends. I had my friends who, like I said, we were the godparents of their kid so they were always very supportive. They had me over for dinner. My dog would play with their dog so we would just bring the dogs over and have some food and have some drinks and just hang and relax. And then I had another friend when, at the time when Josh – it was more toward the end of Josh’s deployment – she was always over but then I had her move in with me for a while. It was very nice to have her there and she was supportive.

I always had support of the people around me. I was very lucky to find the people that I did. Not everybody finds really good friends everywhere that they go but I was pretty lucky. In England I had my core group and then I had a really good group of people – a lot smaller but I had a couple of friends in South Carolina, I would say. But those couple of friends I remain friends with. I love them. It’s the same type of deal but maybe not as broad of a spectrum. Not as many people were supportive and whatever but I found the supportive people and they were always there to help me through those times.

RH: Alright, perfect. So after South Carolina you went to New Jersey, is that correct?

MS: Yes.

RH: And how long were you there for?

MS: Three years.

RH: Did he deploy at all while he was there?

MS: In New Jersey, no. When we were in South Carolina, he left for Haiti in January, came back March-ish – March/April. I don’t remember which it was. He left again for Vegas in May. Spent the whole month of May in Vegas, came back June/July/August. Then in September he went to his training down in Biloxi and that was from September to January so that year we probably saw each other, we were probably living together for four or five months out of the whole time but that one was a weird year because we were apart more than we were together. But in Jersey, no, he stayed there. He was an air traffic controller in Jersey and in the other two he was the POL.

RH: Alright. Before we move on to getting out and post-military life, is there anything else about the military maybe that is significant that we didn’t address?

MS: I don’t think so. I mean, I just, I think I was more surprised when he got in and was going to these places and about how – I didn’t think I was going to adjust to it the way that I did. I totally adjusted to it and I totally was embedded in it. The core people that I’ve met, the fact that we’ve stayed so close was just very important to me. So I think that’s pretty much what I took out of that whole experience was the people that I met. And then the people who got me through all the times when Josh wasn’t around, that was really something, a really good experience.

RH: Alright. Good to go. What was it like when he got out? Did you move back to White Plains?

MS: When he got out initially, yes. We went back. His mom lives in Ossining so we went there but he pretty much got the opportunity that he got to get out early and do the Reserves for two years, or whatever it was, the next two years. He got that opportunity in, I think, it was the end of November and we had to be done with the military by mid-January. So it was very quick. It was very, “OK, what are we going to do? Where are we going to go?

RH: I’m sorry, the end of November of what year?

MS: Oh, I’m sorry. 2013. We’ve been back in White Plains two years this January, I think.

RH: So he got out late 2013/early 2014 and then was Reserves, right?

MS: Yes.

RH: OK. Sorry about that.

MS: Yes. So that year, 2013 or so, we had November and then we had to get out by January. It was very fast. I didn’t agree because I was like, “what am I going to do? I’m going back there. I’m not going to want to work in bars in White Plains. I’m not going to want to do that. I feel like I have no time to prepare.” It was like a crazy mix of emotions at that same time. It all wound up coming together. At that same time we just found out that my dad had cancer so us coming back was actually the best thing. But before that was established I was just kind of like, “we’re going too fast. I have no plan. I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where I’m going and we’re not ready for this.” And I was a little frustrated and upset but, quite honestly, everything worked out for the best and getting back here I was able to help my dad and able to be here and my sister had a little baby at the time and she was like, “I need a nanny.” So I was like, “do you know what? I’ll do it. I’ll watch your baby and we’ll help daddy and we’ll do all that.” So it wound up being perfect timing for me to get back and not actually have anything that I really needed to do. Of course I needed to nanny for my niece but it wasn’t like the person I was nannying for didn’t have a clear understanding as to where I needed to be sometimes. We would coordinate if someone else was going to watch the baby so I’d go down with my dad or whatever. So it wound up being great but, initially, I was like, “this is stupid. I don’t want this. Done.” So I was just like, “finish it out. Let’s just do it so we have a better plan.” But Josh was very – if he got the opportunity to work with the FAA, that’s it. He’s doing it. He’s done. OK.

RH: Alright. Good to go. You talked about this a little bit but do you still communicate with some of the spouses that you served with?

MS: Yes. I still am good friends with – like I said, we are the godparents to our friends who we were in South Carolina with and they’re in Alaska, hopefully coming home within the next couple of years. My friend that actually lived with me in South Carolina, she wasn’t actually a spouse. She was just a friend from the bar. She understood military life and had grown up with it so she was just helpful in that way. I still keep in touch with her, very much so. We’re actually supposed to visit each other soon. My other friends who are in Vegas now, we still keep in touch. We’re facebook friends. We check in on each other. We text each other “happy birthday” and this and that. And my friend from Texas with the two kids, it’s crazy because they were tiny little things and now I’m looking at them – who’s seven. Who’s eight? Time is flying but I still keep up with them. Her daughter now texts me with her little iPhone or whatever. I’m like, “this is incredible. I held you as a six month baby and now you’re texting me.” [laughs] But I do keep up with all of them so it’s a good feeling to know that we’re all still connected.

RH: Alright. Good to go. How did civilians react to you and your experiences?

MS: I feel like everyone that I tell, even now at my job, “Oh, I got married at nineteen. I went here and I was here any my husband deployed.” Everybody’s just kind of like, “wow! You did all that?” And I’m like, “it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not that serious.” But for people who – especially around here who don’t do that or don’t know anybody who’s done that – they look at me like, “wow! I can’t believe you went through all that.” And I’m like, “it’s really just what it was.” It wasn’t anything crazy. I just was a military wife for a period of time. That’s pretty much it. So it’s definitely different because people don’t realize around here, I guess. They think it’s a huge deal and I’m like, “no. There’s actually a ton of other military spouses throughout the country but you just don’t know them.” [laughs]

RH: Alright. Good to go. I’m going to move on to a couple of other things. How do you feel about the rise of ISIS and the current direction that Iraq is taking?

MS: I feel like it’s doing its job instilling fear in people, for sure, as much as I don’t want that to be what it does. Of course when those beheadings were going on and everything, that was pretty severe stuff for people to be able to see and I just wish that there was more done at the time and maybe better training. I mean, everything just kind of crumbled again and it was like they were all there doing their job – Mike, Josh, this one, that one. They were trying to prevent something like this and it just seems like – not that their efforts were gone unnoticed but it’s just, not a defeat, but it’s just not something that should have happened. But it did and it’s kind of like, “now what?” Now what’s going to happen? I guess that’s a whole new presidential issue [both laugh] that will come about in the next year.

RH: Alright. Good to go. I have a couple of spiritual questions for you. Having lived through Josh’s deployment and his time in the military and your time going along with him, has that affected you spiritually and, if so, how?

MS: I feel like I’m kind of a more spiritual person as it is. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly religious per se in any specific religion. I do believe in a higher being and I do believe in praying and I believe in being a good person and I’m kind of spiritual in that way in if you’re good, good things will come to you. So I did pray and I grew up Catholic so when I did pray I prayed with Catholic prayers. When crazy things were going on I would definitely pray. I would say, “I hope this isn’t what Josh is going through. I hope this isn’t for Josh.” Or I would sometimes ask for signs on things and I’m just kind of like, “I hope that this means this.” So I am a little more spiritual than other people, Josh especially. He’s just like, “you’re nuts.” [laughs] But I don’t know, definitely, if his deployment had anything to do with it the spirituality more, but I definitely took to it when things are happening in life like his deployment, his time in Haiti. I would just pray on it. Not super-religious but just kind of like, “please. I hope things are well,” and praying to the higher being or karma or life and just, “please let good things happen for good people and bad people, bad.” You know? So that’s kind of where my spirituality lies.

RH: Alright. Good to go. We’re going to switch it up a little bit. What’s the happiest memory of the time that Josh was in? His entire military experience.

MS: I feel like some of the holidays that we celebrated over there in England. We did one Thanksgiving where all of our friends got together. It was more like a small party. We had Thanksgiving dinner with our two friends, couples, and we brought the kids and then afterward more people showed up and we were playing with little pellet guns. Literally, we called it “redneck Thanksgiving” because we were playing with fake guns. There’s so many pictures that you could just see the happiness because we were all together. Those are kind of the happiest experiences form the military that I have.

Aside from being proud of Josh because that’s just a given, experience-wise being able to have a family that is not blood but you would do anything for these people and they would do anything for you and you’re with them all the time and to celebrate holidays together. I think about my Thanksgivings at home and then this little, “who cooked the ham? Who cooked the turkey?” We all came together and just had the best times. We played video games, danced around, drank Coronas. It was not your typical Thanksgiving but we had so much fun and those are the experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed. Just getting to have a family that, really, was very supportive. That was the happiest times. That Thanksgiving was just the most fun.

RH: Nice. Good to go. So you worked at a bar on base during deployment. Do you have any good stories from just working at the bar?

MS: I have a ton of stories just working at the bar but, I mean, a lot of military people – a lot of women and wives unfortunately were not faithful wives and there was a lot of, “oh, it doesn’t matter because your husband’s gone.” And I feel like, “maybe you can go talk to her because that’s not me.” There was a lot of that. I also had a club family, you know? My family from the club. A couple of my friends – one of them actually joined the military. One of them just moved back from Japan. Another one still lives in England. So we’re still all over the world but I also have my little club family. One of them would just be like, “no! Leave her alone.” You know? There’d be a lot of drunk guys hitting on you. I mean, that’s for any bar I’ve worked in. That’s going to go. There was line dances. There was Country Saturday which was something I’ve never seen before coming from New York. And, literally, everybody knew the dance. Everybody who was country, they knew the dance. And I was just like, “well, this is interesting.”

There were a lot of people who were characters there. There was one guy who just used to just sit at the bar and drink Jack Daniels on the rocks. Every day shift we had the old time veterans come in and they would take up the corner of the bar and one of them would drink Miller Lite all day and the other one would come off his shift and drink Bud Light. This one would drink Hennessey on the rocks. About eight of them would come Friday, Saturday, Sunday during the day and they’d leave once the crowd came in. They were the biggest pains in the ass but they were awesome. [RH laughs] Once you got to know them, they were awesome. They were a pain in the ass but they were awesome. So we had the old time veterans, we had the young crazy kids and we also just had, kind of, the midway people just coming in drinking. We had a lot of people transitioning just coming in, just stopping over. There was a lot in the club that went on and I worked with a lot of people. I worked the bar side and I worked the waitress side just keeping busy. But yeah. There were a couple good things.

RH: Alright. What are some of the funniest stories you have? This could be the club or otherwise.

MS: Hmm. I have to think about this one. I don’t know.

RH: Any one in particular that sticks out?

MS: When Josh was deployed, I went on leave in February and I came back. All the bartenders actually were used as subjects for the MPs to do drunk drive tests on. We weren’t drunk driving but they made us wake up, get there by nine AM, no food allowed, give your body weight and then they would feed you drinks per your body weight. So it was like one drink per hour, one drink per hour and then they’d up it and then they would try to get the military police to do the tests. [RH laughs] So they did the actual DUI test on us.

So we would have all bartenders, all of us just used to drinking all the time so they put these poor military police through hell because they are security forces or whatever. They’re sitting there with us and they’re doing the test and I came back out and I’m like, “I passed again!” [laughs] They’re like, “no, you’re not supposed to keep passing. Why is the happening?” [RH laughs] So all of us just sat in there from, I think, it was from nine to four and they just fed us drinks all day and by the end of it, you know, by the end of it I think we were drinking our own stuff because they were not getting us drunk. They were bussing us back anyway. We were laying on the tables, this one was jumping. We were putting on music, we were dancing. They were like, “why can’t you guys just do what you’re supposed to do?” We’re like, “we’re bartenders. We’re going to do what we want. You think you’re running the show but we’re running the show.” It was actually very funny. A whole bunch of us are just sitting there. All the cops were like [silence] because we all passed every time so they were so mad. It was like, “none of you failed. We suck at our jobs.” You know? [both laugh]

RH: Just note, the recorders will not have been able to pick that up, Marina said, “when the cops were ugnhh,” she made a funny face and didn’t say anything. [MS laughs] Just so the historians note that, years from now. [RH laughs]

Alright. Before we move on, any other bar stories before I move on.

MS: No. I think that’s a pretty good one, a pretty funny one. [RH laughs]

RH: I always ask this of everybody. Did you have a chance to eat any MREs?

MS: They were in my house. Josh brought them home but I would not.

RH: And another note for historians, she didn’t answer no but she shook her head no. [both laugh] What was the food like in England?

MS: The food was OK in England. It wasn’t my favorite – a lot of heavy meals. On base they did everything to cater to everybody in the military. So they had steak nights Tuesday nights and I worked in that. Every day was a different buffet line so Mondays was whatever – I don’t know, American or something. Mondays was Mexican, Tuesday was American, Wednesdays Italian, Thursdays was Southern. Southern day was the busiest day. Fridays were traditional British food. So I also worked in that area and you’d get in at nine and you would get out at three but it would just be a buffet line of people so they just kind of catered to everyone. They had a little bit of everything but that was on base.

Off base, I felt like the best food in England was Indian food. [laughs]

RH: Oh. OK.

MS: Yeah. But I’m not a big fan of the British food per se. It looks like fried everything – potatoes and pot pies and stuff like that and very heavy, very filling meals. Very hearty meals. I guess you need that when it’s cold and rainy and gross. But for me it’s just not my particular type of food that I like to eat.

RH: Did you get into the tea at all while you were over there?

MS: No. Not really. [RH laughs]

RH: Alright. Before I move onto my last couple of questions, there’s one I have to ask, a follow-up from an earlier in the interview. When did you eventually tell your families that you were married?

MS: So, the following year after I had to moved to England, my mother tried to claim me on her taxes. I was still of age to claim on taxes – I was twenty-one. She was like, “OK. Well, you know what time it is. It’s tax time. I need all your info, bla, bla, bla. You’re working on base.” I had a W-2 from the base and this and that. I was like, “mom, I just can’t.” And she was like, “why?” And I was like, “I just can’t. It’s not fair. I should claim myself. I’ve been paying for everything and I’m living on my own. You’re not giving me any money.” I gave her every reason in the book why I shouldn’t let her claim me and she was like, “it doesn’t matter. You’re on my taxes, you’re on my insurance. That’s the way it goes.” And I finally just called her back really quick and I was like, “I can’t do it because I’m married!” [RH laughs] And she was like, “what?” And Josh was in Bulgaria at the time and I was just by myself of course and I’m like, “ah, this sucks.” Because I’m here in England by myself and I’m about to get my whole family pissed off at me. So that sucked.

That part really sucked because I had only been there since July and now it was only April and, you know, I had good friends but I didn’t feel like I needed to go to tell everybody how crazy this just happened. But once we came back, I think it was that June, everybody knew. Everybody knew. So we hid it for a good year and change, you know? My sister cried. She was like, “why didn’t you tell me?” I think Mike’s mom cried and she was like, “why did you hide this from us?” And I was like, “when Josh and I got married I was just nineteen and he was twenty-one. Not that many people would have been happy for us.” Coming from where we come from, people don’t get married like that. So, you know, my sister was getting married that June and we got married before her in January. It wouldn’t have been the best timing. So we just hid it from everybody because, as much as they didn’t like that, we did what was best for us.

RH: Good to go. Alright, so last couple of questions. I know you talked about this a little bit but what are some of the common misconceptions that the average American might have about military spouses and what they go through?

MS: I think that the first thing people usually ask me when I say Josh – I could say Josh was military but they still ask, “is he here now?” I’m like, “yes.” [laughs] They think he’s deployed or they think he’s away and I’m like, “no. We live together. He’s only been away a handful of times and it hasn’t been for long, long periods of time.” I feel like a lot of things get misconstrued because of what people see on TV and they just think that that’s what military life is even though there’s so much more to it. You know, going over there, going anywhere – going to a new base, moving all the time, meeting new people, having to put yourself out there again. There’s more to it than just being the person who’s sitting next to the military member. And I feel like a lot of people, that’s their number one thing that they worry about. “Oh, he deployed?” Yeah, that was tough but it’s the little things that are still tough. Leaving everybody you became a family with and then going to a new base and then, you know, when he was deployed to Haiti. It’s not just Iraq that was tough.

I think that’s the biggest thing. When people think of military and they think of spouses or dependents right now, they’re thinking of “what did you do when he was deployed.” Or, “did he deploy?” That’s the number one question. Well, a lot of other things go on too, you know? Moving and this and that. So I feel like that’s kind of the only focus when anyone thinks of the military now. It’s did they deploy? Where? How long? You were alone. How did you do it? And it was like, yeah, you know? But military life is different and a lot of people don’t get it, I guess, because they just want to know that portion. You don’t want to know about the rest? You know, what else I’ve gone through just being a spouse? That’s the number one thing.

RH: Good to go. Is there anything that the Air Force or the government could be doing better to address the needs of military spouses?

MS: I think they put a lot of emphasis on you being the dependent. It’s like, going to the doctor I need Josh’s social, I need everything about Josh. Sometimes it’s kind of like you’re overlooked because you’re the spouse. It’s like, “whatever. We need to get all the military people in here and out.” And that’s it. Even getting to the doctor. It’s like, “OK, we have this time for you.” Some of the doctors in the military are like, “ah, bye. Here’s Motrin. Have a nice day.” So I feel like there’s kind of things that like, as a spouse, you kind of get overlooked. In the military they’ll give Josh Motrin, eight hundred milligrams, any day of the week. Break your finger? Motrin. Got a sore throat? Motrin. We had Motrin for years. [laughs]

I feel like, maybe, to be more inclusive of spouses. I know that now I think it’s a certain period of time until you can give your GI Bill to your spouse which I think is great because a lot of people who become career military don’t decide to get their degree and then they can give it to their spouse or their children and that’s incredible because somebody can use that. You would still be paying for it or helping pay for it so why not help the next generation or the spouse?

But they do have spousal preference when you go for a job. If you click that you’re a spouse, they’ll kind of be like, “OK. So you haven’t used your spousal preference yet.” They have those.

RH: You only get one?

MS: Yes. When you go to a new base and you apply for a job on base, you can only use your spousal preference once. But if you quit that job that you were under spousal preference on, you have to reapply to another job as if you were a civilian. So they’re only going to give you the special treatment once.

I’m trying to think what could be better. I mean, there are clubs and things like that but they’re kind of cheesy. It’s just not anything that I was really into – getting into the spousal clubs and all that. We made our own little deployed spouse club [laughs] so I was cool with that. Just kind of, maybe, including them into the in-processing or maybe taking them in to teach the spouses as well as the military member about the area you’re in and all that. They kind of just ship you on out to a new place and then they tell the military member everything and I’m like, “Josh, how do I get here? What do I do? What’s this? Can we live on base? Do we live off base? Where do we live off base?” It’s kind of like, he gets all the information but I don’t. So I feel like that’s something – being a little more inclusive of the spouse even though the military member is the number one. Just remember that there’s a second person with them making decisions together and maybe that should be helpful.

RH: Alright. Good to go. If you could communicate something to husbands or wives whose spouses will be deploying in the future, what would it be?

SM: I would say to try not to worry, that it’s only going to make you sick. [laughs] You won’t be able to eat, you won’t be able to think clearly and you’ll just be upset all the time. It’s hard but don’t worry unless there’s something to worry about. I would say make sure you leave on a good note and, you know, the adjustment period will be tough but don’t think things are that bad. You’ll get back to it. And I would say give them a little bit of a break because when I didn’t and I didn’t understand when Josh came back and didn’t want to hang out with me and wanted to hang out with his friends, I didn’t get it. I think that was the best thing that my friend that I worked with told me about that could have told me because, otherwise, I would have held more resentment towards Josh for not wanting to see me and not wanting to hang out with me and it would have just created more fights. But if people understand that they just want to do something normal with their friends again then maybe it’s a little easier to adjust to how they’re treating you because you don’t really get it.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Is there anything at all that I left out that you would like to address?

MS: I don’t think so. I didn’t tell you that Josh re-enlisted in Haiti without telling me. [laughs]

RH: Alright. [laughs] So what was that like?

MS: I didn’t want him to reenlist and he did. He had a great opportunity afterwards. It’s just the way I said about the thing – I’m just more of the worrier about how things are going to go from there on out. But we were in South Carolina, he was in Haiti, and we were debating whether he should reenlist or not. I took a drive home and I saw my family and I was with everybody and I was like, “listen, I’m ready to start my life. I don’t want us to be in the military anymore. I think we’re good. I think we’re done.” And he was like, “you were just more leaning towards me reenlisting a couple days ago. Now you’re home, now you’ve changed your tune,” and this and that. And I’m like, “no! But I just want to be out. I want to be done.” And then he called me and he was like, “I know it’s for the best so I reenlisted.” Once again I screamed at him. We got into a huge fight and I was like, “how could you do that without talking to me?” I was like, “I did talk to you. You were OK with it.” I was like, “now we can go anywhere again,” this and that. And then we he called me and told me we got Jersey I literally cried tears of happiness because I was so excited. That’s when I finally let it go that he reenlisted without me really knowing. And I was like, “alright. You’re coming away skate free because we got Jersey. Otherwise there’d be a problem.” We could have went to Japan. [laughs] But we didn’t. So he got away. [laughs]

RH: Alright. Good to go. Anything else I left out?

MS: No. I think we pretty much touched on a lot of things. I’m trying to think if there’s anything. Not really.

RH: Alright. Last question. The entire time that he was in, what is the thing that you did that you are most proud of?

MS: I think I’m most proud of us. Me and him. We’ve seen so many people go through so much and so many marriages break. So many people get married at a young age and they’re military spouses and they’re really not ready for it and then, you know, things happen. Given, not everyone’s meant for each other and we get that but I feel like being nineteen, getting married, moving across the country – not across the country, across the world – and to another country and Josh deploying. We’ve been through a significant amount as a young couple and being twenty-one – you know, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one – and going through all that, a lot of people can’t sustain that as a thirty year-old being married for whatever. A lot of people crumble under the pressure and I think what I’m most proud of is that we – him and I – have really maintained our relationship. And yes, there’s been resentment factors and there’s been troublesome times – everybody goes through them – but I think the best thing that we did was stay together and that’s pretty much the biggest accomplishment. Like I said, a lot of military marriages that I watch either crumble or I’ve watched one spouse or the other cheat or this or that. It’s nice for us to be just where we are. We stayed together and we’ve been married almost nine years and been together ten or eleven. So it’s like it’s kind of unheard of for a lot of people and I’m only twenty-eight. [laughs] So it’s a pretty good accomplishment, I think.

RH: Alright. Good to go. Anything else?

MS: I think we’re good.

RH: Well thank you very much!

MS: Of course!