The Mind of Bluesleepy

Navy spouses 7 August 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 11:06 pm

My mother just sent me a pretty funny email that I just had to share:

“Because of a minor infraction, a shipmate of mine aboard the USS Reeves, bound for Japan, was busted one rank, fined and given extra duty for three weeks. Looking forward to celebrating his 21st birthday on July 22, he consoled himself every night during his extra duty by reciting, ‘They can bust me, they can fine me — but they can’t take away my birthday.’ As July 22 approached, his excitement increased. When he went to bed on July 21, he happily repeated, ‘They can bust me, they can fine me — but they can’t take away my birthday.’

The next morning, he found out that the ship had crossed the international date line — it was July 23.”

That’s just terrible, I’m tellin’ ya.

Kurt and I were discussing the Navy Sunday night. Now granted, I was a little tipsy, having gone to my favorite watering hole and tossed back a few Icehouses. But this makes sense!!!

See, my stepmother has this books on etiquette for the Navy bride. It lists in detail whom one should call on first, what to wear (complete with white gloves!!!), whether to leave a calling card or not, what should be on one’s calling card. I’m guessing it was more for the officers’ wives because back when it was written, just after WWII, the divide between the officers’ world and the enlisted world was a lot larger.

But anyhow…

The Navy bride nowadays is rather left on her own. I have been married to Kurt for almost nine months, and there has been no acknowledgment of our marriage by anyone. It’s not the same as in the civilian world where a person gets married and all s/he has to do is re-sign her W-2s so that her taxes are taken out according to the married scale. The Navy likes to paint this bright shining picture of all its servicepeople as one humongous family leaning on one another for support when their loved ones go out on deployment.

How can one get support when he doesn’t even know the folks that his wife works with, let alone his commanding officer?!

The spouse is supposed to be able to count on the spouse of his commanding officer or at least his division officer to help her out in a tough place. Where do I find this office? I can’t find a daycare for the children. How do you get around the base? Where is it ok for me to park on base? How do I make sure the children have health insurance? When do they need ID cards? How do I make an appointment for them?

A lot of people would then say, well ask your spouse!! A lot of sailors don’t tell their spouses anything, and a person who’s been a civilian all her life wouldn’t know the answer to many of these questions.

So I was thinking that it would be very beneficial if a sailor was handed a packet just after he was married that listed all the basic information that a non-Navy person would have to know. Numbers for the chain of command, how to make a medical appointment, who to call to get answers for other questions.

Ideally, the division officer or his spouse would meet with the new couple and formally welcome the new spouse to the command. Of course, nowadays that probably isn’t practical. Gone are the days when the spouses of sailors and officers devoted themselves to charity work in the various wives’ clubs — most spouses now have full time jobs of their own.

But I do think something has to be done. A lot of folks are getting married where the new groom or bride has to leave on a six-month deployment the day after s/he is married!! I think it’s crucial to let the new spouse know there is somewhere where s/he can turn to for help and assistance.

The Navy’s main push now is for retention, and I think the best way to accomplish that would be for the new Navy spouse to really understand what the Navy is all about, to see past the fact that they will be separated from their loved ones for six months every two years. The Navy’s much more than just a job.

**********

So I just finished four years of college, four years of spending far more than I should on books for a class that I will only use once and managed to resell back to the bookstore for a pittance of what I paid for it.

I went with Kurt today to his college, paid for his one class (only $90 since he gets Tuition Assistance from the Navy), and proceeded on to the bookstore to purchase his one book for the semester.

One hundred and thirty eight dollars.

And some change.

For one class.

For a freakin’ calculus book!!

With a CD.

But still!!!!

My calculus book was only $90, I believe.

But it didn’t have the CD.

How many years left till Kurt has his degree?!!?

Oh my poor checkbook.

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