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On-the-Job Troubles for Spouse

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have befriended a man on Facebook but I cannot find out any information on him and he is not very open about anything there. He is in Afghanistan (so he says). My question to you is how I can find out if he is for real or some jerk on Facebook. He says his name is Sergeant Frank Leonard. I would like to know how to find out if he is really in the military. I tried going to Military.com but can't find him. Is there another way I can find out? Any help would be appreciated.

Sincerely,
MB

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Dear MB,

I would advise you to be careful and take it slow. What's the rush, right? You don't have to let this guy know every single thing about you. He doesn't need to know where you live, where you work, or anything about your relatives or friends. You are simply getting to know him and there is no rush with that. Many people will lie about being in the military. I guess it gives them a sense of power and esteem, especially with what is going on globally and what our military is facing.

I have no way of finding out for you if he is truly in the military or serving in Afghanistan. However, here is a tidbit: You should know if he is in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard. You should also know if he is active duty, National Guard or Reserve. You should know the name of his unit and where his unit is located. When he gives you the name of his unit you can obtain unit information via the Internet. Lastly, he should have a military email address too. You could also correspond to him using his military email address. My husband uses his military email more than his yahoo email. This information I've listed above does not have to be kept a secret from anyone; A servicemember can share this information. Again, take it slow with him. There is no rush. Keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Dear Ms Vicki,

I am the 23 year-old fiancé of a Naval Officer -- he's NSA, pilot-in-training. Currently he's in Pensacola, about to start Advanced Pilot Instruction, then it's on to Corpus Christi for him as soon as that's finished (we decided to delay getting married until it's the right time in our relationship instead of doing a hurried wedding so he can stay in the Pensacola area, especially since we want the members of our family who are very important to us to be able to attend our wedding -- unless we give them enough warning, they wouldn't be able to, as we have family members in three different states.) After Corpus Christi he'll probably be back in Pensacola, which presents many problems for me.

You should know that we have a very strong relationship and love each other very much. However, I live about 12 hours away. I came here for college and found a job that was far beyond what I thought I would ever be doing right now, let alone 2 1/2 years ago when I started it -- and I make extremely good money. The plan is currently for me to work through October of this year, then quit. I have a spotless resume, having worked over 4 years at the job I had prior to this one; working through October would keep my resume extremely strong and additionally I would have enough money saved at that point to not have to work for a year and a half, which is what I really want to do (I'm a homemaker at heart; cooking, cleaning, and having a happy home make me happier than anything else in the world.) It would also get us through the period where he has to move twice without me having to complete those moves as well.

The problem is that I hate my job. I love the work itself and most of the people I work with; there are two people that make it absolute hell, though. They gossip constantly -- we work in an office that has mostly cubicles and you can hear everything, no matter how quiet people are. I should also mention that I'm 20 years younger than everyone else I work with; I almost completely separate work and home life because of this, despite the fact that it seems everyone else discusses their own (I've always felt that it would cast a negative light on me despite the fact that I have a pretty tame social life for someone my age, just because of the age difference) -- except for these two women, who appear to have no home life so they content themselves to making the office their social life. One of them has worked for the company about 10 years and completely bullies my director -- she has a unique position and could not be replaced if they got rid of her. The company has a difficult time keeping employees in the position that I'm in, partially because the work is one of those things that you're either very good at or you're not; while there is training, a lot is dependent on personality -- and partially because it's a pretty cancerous environment. The owners take very good care of us and if they knew about these things they wouldn't be tolerated -- but I also don't trust them to be discreet enough for it to not completely backfire on me if I tell them what's going on.

I try to brush it off and just involve myself in the gossip and nastiness as little as possible, but it's clear to me that my self esteem has taken a nosedive; I was always able to leave the work at work before I started this job, but more and more I find myself up at night, unable to sleep because these women make jabs at personal lives, professionalism, and anything else they can. They talk about everyone in the office, there is not a single person (including the owners) who is above their catty nonsense. Before I went on vacation recently for two weeks, and while my director was on vacation, it was especially bad -- I don't think they did any work the entire time he was gone, they just gossiped (it's also crazy to me that they have to have someone to be accountable to in order to get work done, but that's another story). Long story short, they started in on me about my professionalism -- there's one part of my job (and it is a part of my job, despite what I'm about to tell you) that they don't really like. It is something that I can avoid doing and no one would be any wiser except for me, but it would also mean less business for the company as a whole. The biggest problem is that the one who bullies my boss can get him to do pretty much anything; I worry about my job security pretty much every time they choose me as their "target" (which happens about once every six months or so and lasts for a week or two before they move on to someone else and I can ignore them again). Ultimately it's up to the owners to do the firing, and thinking about that eases my mind when they do these things, but it's still relatively scary and it really makes it difficult for me to work there because I feel that they have enough control over my life to make it really, really hard to continue on this path.

I want to quit and start rebuilding my self esteem. There is nothing left here for me except this job (it's a transient college town, everyone moves on eventually -- which is what many of my friends have done), so I would go live with my fiancé. The problem is all the moving -- finding jobs in each place and especially on the same financial level as I'm on currently. My fiancé has told me over and over again that if it comes down to it he will completely support me financially but I don't want to upset the balance of our relationship (we've known each other for 11 years and it's a really great balance); we don't have an extravagant lifestyle but we're very comfortable and while I'm sure we would get through anything, I'd rather not test those waters unless I absolutely have to. I have some small savings, but those would only get me through a maximum of 3 months including moving expenses and I really need the time off (I still need to complete my degree and I need to take the time to do that properly). I've looked for transient jobs but have had a very hard time finding any and I'm just not sure what to do at this point. Do you have any advice? Thank you so much!

Sincerely,
A Fiancé in Waiting

Dear Fiancé in Waiting,

Thank you so much for reading the column and for writing to me. It sounds like you have been doing a great job trying to ignore the problems with the two women you speak of in your letter. I know it's a difficult situation. However, here's the deal… "the economy." It sounds like you know you've made the right decision because you state it very clearly in your letter: it would not be a wise decision for you to leave your current place of employment. It's a great-paying position and the owners like you and value the work that you do. That's better than what many people are experiencing at this time. You also stated that if you continue to work through October you will have enough money saved so you could not work for a year or more. That's tremendous! I suggest that you stay on the job and continue working. After all, your fiancé is not settled and you admit that it will bring additional stress if you try to move with him at this time. In the work place I know all so well about the good ol' boy network. People are promoted without merit, people are allowed to continue to work for many years when they do nothing but get paid for causing strife and making other people miserable. As the old adage goes, "Mess up and move up.". However, in your defense you appear to be the hard worker.

Here's the deal and my advice to you: Your time there is temporary because you plan to move anyway in the next nine to ten months. If you can move to a different cubicle, do so. If you can wear headphones, I suggest you do that too. You should start keeping notes of their behavior and comments. I think you should report their behavior up the chain. It's not equitable that you should tolerate their behavior. Lastly, I know you are away from close family and friends and it makes this situation even tougher. However, you should still try to maintain a support network until you relocate. I wish you all the best with your upcoming marriage. Please feel free to stay in touch and give me updates. I will happily be a part of your support network.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.