Wearing Rank.

Ah…wearing your spouse/significant other’s rank. It’s something that nearly EVERY military wife has done at some point. Yep, even me. I won’t admit to it often but sometimes it’s hard not to. Now, I always feel like I should do a little background explanation for those of you who aren’t living the military lifestyle. When a spouse “wears the rank”, it really means that they are using their husband (or wife’s) staus in the military to better their social lives. I had been warned about this before I got married, but brushed it off.

My first experience with a military wife wearing her husband’s rank was when we had just moved to Camp Lejeune. Jacksonville, N.C. is a total military town. It has Wal Mart (two of them!), bars, strip clubs, tattoo shops. Weird things go on there. I have heard rumors about a midget strip club night at one of the popular clubs down there. Of course, we didn’t know any of this when we moved there. We had wanted to get in base housing but the wait was a few months so while we waited we rented a townhouse out in town. It was a pretty crappy place, had a lot of “waterbugs”, a.k.a. roaches, neighbors were all kind of trashy. Jesus, I sound like a spoiled brat.

I had taken my son Scott to the park in the community. It was summertime and hotter than hell, I must have been covered in sweat. Not looking my best, I’m sure. A mother and her son came up to us and her son started playing with Scott. As mothers do, we carefully tested the waters to see if we had anything in common. Turns out we did…both of our husbands were in the military. Once this was discovered, she started into the military wife inquisition. This is where they ask what branch your husband is in, what rank he is, what he does in the military, how old you are, and how long you have been married. They keep a mental scorecard in their heads, checking off each answer, and using that to judge your “worth” in the heirarchy of military wives.

Unfortunately, I failed that test. If that had been the old days, I would have been the scruffy maid milking the cows in the barn. My answers were as follows: husband is in the navy, he is only an E1, he is a corpsman, I am 22, we got married 3 weeks ago. Suddenly her friendly face turned stony. I will always remember the way she curled up her lip at me and snapped at her son to come here and that they were going home. She literally took her child by the arm and towed him out of the park, away from the contamination of my virginial military wife status.

I was so offended. I couldn’t understand what happened. I was a generally likeable person. I had friends! Hell, someone liked me enough to marry me…why didn’t she want her kid to play with mine? I kept this experience to myself, always wondering what I had said wrong. After I spent a little more time in my new role as military wife, I began to understand (but definitely not condone) that woman’s thoughts.

Camp Lejeune is not a naval base. It is a Marine Corps base. The only naval people there either work at the hospital, with the platoons as a field corpsman, or in the administrative side. The fact that my husband was not a marine was my first fail. Secondly, he was an E1. Fresh out of boot camp. No rank, no respect. Next, I was too “young”…a sterotypical fresh, young military wife. Lastly, we had only been married 3 weeks. This I don’t understand, everyone has to start somewhere!

Now that I am a seasoned military wife, I have caught myself doing this…the military wife inquisition. I always stop myself before I finish, knowing that this could be a young, new wife who is lonely in a new duty station. I have often told my husband that I want him to go officer so I can be saluted when I drive through the gates on to a military base 🙂 Or so I can park in the primo spots at the commissary. But I would never treat another wife so disrespectfully. Even girlfriends deserve respect, because a military girlfriend is only a few steps away from a military wife.

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The Joys of Tricare

Let’s discuss the lovely healthcare system of the United States Armed Forces, also known as Tricare. Tricare Prime in our family. Disclaimer: I am NOT bashing the fact that I get free, usually quality healthcare! Just putting that out there. I just might be bashing the logistics of said system.

When my husband was a stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC, he worked at the Naval Hospital. This was our first duty station so he was fresh out of boot camp and A-School (job training), and was just pretty much a huge newbie to the Navy scene. So they slapped him into night shift work at the hospital on base. Not his first pick on how to spend 2 years in the military, but what can you do? Gotta pay your dues somehow.

This was my first experience with being a military spouse in general. We had gotten married 2 weeks before we moved from Chicago to N.C. We get signed up for Tricare, my oldest son and I. Things are great, we are learning about our new locale, getting to know the local Walmart (pretty much the hottest spot in Jacksonville, N.C.), and then BAM! I found out I was pregnant. Called the OB-GYN clinic and told them I had a positive pregnancy test. They told me I have to come in and take a “military issued test”. I say ok and drive up to pee on a stick that looked exactly like the First Response I peed on the day before. Lo and behold, the military says I am pregnant. Fine. This is in May, they can’t fit me into OB-GYN until January. January is when my new fetus is due to make its debut. So they send me to Family Medicine. I get my first appointment in July. That’s a lot of waiting for a pregnant lady.

My pregnancy was slightly high risk towards the end. The baby wanted to come out, the doctors didn’t want him too…Premature labor was put under control  and my actual birth experience was not too shabby. This was the first time having a baby in a military facility and I had heard horror story after horror story. Still do actually. The only disheartening thing was the corpsman who was brought in to start my IV. Turns out he was buddies with my husband (they had gone to Corps School together) and instead of paying attention to the elephant sized, panting pregnant woman that he was supposed to be “professionally” sticking, he was joking around with Joe about their times in Chicago and how “fucked up” they used to get. While I had the upmost faith in my own husband, this guy was stressing me out so bad that the nurse came in to see why my heartbeat was off the charts.

Immature corpsmen aside, my experience with Lejeune wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t until we moved here to Norfolk that Tricare and I have become foes in this crazy healthcare battle. Now if you have ever been to the Hampton Roads area you know how congested it is, and how full of military it is. It’s out of control. There are all sorts of bases here. Tricare set me and the boys up at Langley AFB which is about 30 minutes away and through a tunnel. Again, if you know Norfolk you know to avoid tunnels at all costs. The traffic here is painful at best. Naturally, aside from necessary appointments, I self medicate at home and avoid going at all costs.

Unfortunately, this week I have received a lovely present from my husband (who is conveniently absent in the field)…a cold which morphed into the worst sinus infection I have ever had. So I suck it up, call the appointment line and attempt to get seen so I can snag some antibiotics.

Me: Hi, I have a sinus infection and would like to see my doctor.

Operator: We’re sorry, there are no appointments available until next week.

Me: I will probably be dead next week, are you sure you can’t fit me in?

Operator: Ma’am, if there were appointments open, I would give you one. I do apologize.

Right, not getting an appointment at the doctors. They suggested that I go to the emergency room at Portsmouth Naval. Hah, not likely with two young children and a husband who is playing war games in some field…It would seem that free healthcare does have a price tag; although at least I can say that I have it!

A Foray Into Blogging…

Ok, who hasn’t googled some random question and had a bunch of blog posts pop up? I know I have. I am a google freak. Any question I have gets googled. My husband calls me the queen of google. I digress…My thoughts this morning were, “Why can’t I have a blog that comes up in a google search to quench some thirsty web questor?” Well, why not? Et voila, I am now a blogger. True I have no followers, no facebook likes or visitors to my blog, but I have taken the first step.

I love to read. When I say that I love it, I mean I LOVE IT. I will read anything: the back of cereal boxes, those dumb advertisements that come with my daily bills, the dictionary…you get the picture. When I was younger I wanted to write a novel. I dreamed of being the next J.K. Rowling or Judy Blume (to my younger readers; she was a pioneer in teen girl novels). I soon realized that I am a total procrastinator. I would write 3 chapters, be covered in ink and in love with my characters, and then all of a sudden lose interest. I must have a dozen unfinished novels laying around in my moving boxes.

Blogging seems like it could be a way for me to jot down snippets of writing, to express myself, without having to commit to writing hundreds of pages of flowing story. Eh, maybe someday I will get around to it.

My life around here can get pretty boring. No joke. I go to school online, so when I am not procrastinating with my schoolwork, or googling some inane question, I am attempting to become a teacher. Preferably I want to teach history, although my degree is in Interdisciplinary Studies K-8 grade. I figure it will give me more options when I actually begin to teach. When I am not studying, I am taking care of my two boys. Scratch that, I am taking care of them while I study. Those boys go, go, go 24/7. Since my husband works extremely long hours, and often is gone weeks or months at a time, I get most of my conversation from my kids, or from Facebook. Sometimes I mix up the two and when my oldest, Scott, comes home from preschool with a project, I go to press the “Like” button. Yep, I admitted it. Go blogging!

So be warned that this blog may be full of mommy stories (sorry, but if you are a mom you get it), funny stories about drama on Facebook, or recaps of catty mom moments at the elementary school bus loop (there are a bunch of those). Try and meander over to my “About Me!” section (if you don’t aleady know me) to get a sort of back story. But don’t worry, like all good authors, I will make sure nobody gets lost when they read my posts 🙂

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