It sounded wonderful, at first. The day my husband came home and announced that he had been selected for recruiting duty, my mind raced with a million opportunities. I pictured living twenty-five minutes from all of my friends and family. I imagined a life without fear of deployments. I imagined my husband working a regular nine-to-five job, with family dinners around our little kitchen table each night. I was ecstatic at the prospect of living off a base. At first, it seemed like a dream come true.
Now that my husband has been a recruiter for a little over a year now, my assumptions have changed. Being the spouse of a Marine is never easy, and yet the spouse of a Marine Corps recruiter is no different.
Recruiting duty began with lots of surprises. It first began with a nearly three-month long class that forced my husband to move across the country, leaving my daughter and me behind. Then the stories started coming. I cannot count how many times I heard the words, “I saw my husband less on recruiting duty than I did on deployment,” and I began to worry.
I wasn’t prepared for the fact that we would not discover our duty station until about thirty days prior to the move. I had all of this time I could be using to plan, but I had no way of knowing what to plan for! My mind raced. Should I start stocking up on winter gear because we’ll end up inAlaska? Should I toss out all our winter clothing because we’ll end up inNew Mexico? As any military spouse can attest to, not knowing is the worst.
Finally we found out what state we’d be moving to:Indiana, our home state. With only about thirty days to find a house and my husband still in recruiting school, I scrambled through internet searches of rental properties, made a trip to Indiana, and signed the lease on a house a week before my husband graduated.
Once we got settled in and my husband began work, I began to better appreciate the warnings I’d received about recruiting duty. My husband works 16 or 17 hours every week day, and often works on weekends. He’s exhausted when he gets home at11pm; he quickly eats his warmed-up dinner, takes a shower, and immediately heads to bed most nights. Living away from a base sounded wonderful at first. What I failed to realize was that living away from a military base meant living away from the amenities on base (think prices at the commissary), dealing with Tricare at the civilian level constantly (a true mess), and living away from all those instant friendships you can make from having someone around you that can truly relate to your situation. I never understood how lucky I was to be around my military family, until I was without them.
Don’t misunderstand me. Recruiting duty is not the end of the world, and there are a few good things about it. For starters, my husband won’t be deploying during this duty station, and I cannot be more thankful for that. I do get to sleep beside my husband pretty much every night, even if he is practically comatose as soon as his head hits the pillow. We do still get some family time squeezed in, and have been blessed to be stationed only a few hours from our families. So far, this station has taught us many lessons, but, perhaps lesson number one is: The grass is not always greener on the other side.