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What I've Learned While Editing Ms. Vicki

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You've read the Ms. Vicki column, right? Letters from the lovelorn, he-did-me-wrong missives, base housing drama -- any of that ring a bell?

A couple of years ago, I emailed the spouse editor to ask if Ms. Vicki was a real person because I'd seen so many letters about cheating and I thought someone had to be making them up.

Guess what? They're real. In fact, I've been editing the Ms. Vicki column for for the past year and a half. That means, I've read every single one of those letters during that time, and doing so has taught me a few things about the military community:

1. There really is a lot of cheating out there in military-land. Please believe me when I say that Vicki, the other editors and myself absolutely love getting letters that aren't about cheating. We get really excited about that. So, please, send her your letters, and especially send her your non-cheating letters.

2. Problems don't change with age and rank, and there's no point in life where people stop having problems altogether. Ms. Vicki gets lots of letters from young military spouses, but she gets a lot from spouses who've been around a while too. Their problems aren't really all that different. Senior leaders and their spouses are just as likely to make mistakes as the younger folks, and their mistakes often have even bigger consequences.

3. You love your kids. I have yet to read a letter from anyone who expresses anything less than total love for their kids.

4. You don't all love military life or, at least, not all of you love it when you sit down to write to Ms. Vicki. That's fair. I don't always love it, either.

5. Some of you fire off angry, emotional, grammar-and-spelling-mistake-filled letters. These take me a while to edit. We believe that everyone deserves to sound smart in print so we clean those mistakes up for you. I don't mind, that's the job I'm paid to do. I take great pains to never change the meaning or intent in your letters, only the errors. Some of your letters are really long though, so I have to cut them down a bit. Truthfully, the mistake-filled letters don't bother me.

6. The ones that bother me are the ones with the tightly controlled language that I don't have to edit much. I see this most often when the writer is looking for advice on how to get out of an abusive relationship. The syntax that leaves no room for error. They're the easiest to edit, but they break my heart because I can tell that the person writing is afraid and guarding his or her words very carefully.

7. Ms. Vicki is hilarious. I've never met her in person, but I'd really like to.

8. The military community is full of romantics and idealists. Time and again, I read letters from men and women who gave up everything and everyone they knew in order to serve our country or because they were madly in love with someone serving. It doesn't always work out, and if they're writing to Ms. Vicki, on some level it probably isn't working for them. But I absolutely love knowing that people like you still exist in the world.

Take care out there, be safe, be smart and, if you need some advice, you can always ask Ms. Vicki.

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Rebekah Sanderlin Military Life Family and Spouse Featured

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Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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