He's Been Court-Martialed. Now What About Me?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband was recently court-martialed for bad conduct, and I am left with nothing.

Unbeknownst to me, he has been in trouble a few times for bad conduct, but they only gave him an Article 15 and took pay away from him.

Now, he is sitting in prison for something I had nothing to do with. It’s not fair because I won’t keep his pay for a specific period of time to help me transition to a new location and to give me time to find employment or to finish school.

How am I supposed to make it and put food in me and my son’s mouths?

Ms. Vicki, the Army won’t even pay for me to move back to Missouri to be with my family. My family can’t believe that I am being punished for what my husband did.

I was told to be a good Army wife and support my husband. This meant that I had to put all of my dreams and aspirations on hold and to put everything aside and follow him because he served his country.

This is what the military teaches wives to do. It’s like being in boot camp. You are brainwashed to think that you take care of your husband and the Army will take care of you.

So why am I being punished? What did I do wrong? Nothing. I did everything right.

Don’t you and others think I should get some financial assistance to help me start over?

I haven’t worked in 10 years, and I’m scared to death. We don’t have money saved or investments because we have been living off of one salary.

Now I could kick myself because I bought in to the lie that a military wife has a job and it’s to “support your husband at all cost," even if it kills us.

I should have worked, then maybe we would have money saved that could help me and my son right now.

Please tell me if there is anyone who can help me and what I can do?

-- Expendable Wife

Dear Expendable Wife,

This is really tough for me to read. My heart truly goes out to you because I can see why you would feel that you and your son are being punished too.

Actually, I recently met a Marine spouse who told me she experienced the same thing.

Her husband was also court-martialed, and she did not receive any financial compensation. She had a lawyer with the base legal services who spoke on her behalf. As a result of the lawyer’s effort, her moving expense from the West Coast to the East Coast was paid for at no cost to her.

You didn’t say exactly why your husband is being court-martialed. Is your husband being court-martialed for spouse or child abuse? If so, there is victim’s transitional compensation and health benefits to which you are entitled.

But if this were the case, I think you would have been informed of this by your social worker or the victims advocate assigned to your case.

My quick advice would be for you to do the following:

1. Walk-in to your nearest legal office on base for information and advice. There may be help available for you, but you won’t know unless you ask. You can call them by phone, but most of them have walk-in hours available.

2. Seek help from the FRG and your husband's unit. Many people may feel like me and realize that your husband’s actions are not your fault. Your husband’s company may be willing to take up donations to help you with your travel expenses so you can relocate and be with your family. I don’t know if Family Readiness Group (FRG) funds could provide a donation to help you, but you can always check.

3. Know that you will be starting over. This will be stressful and very intimidating, given everything that has happened. You will have to depend on your family and close friends to help you through this tough time.

4. Network with others to find employment. Studies show that most people find employment by word of mouth and from someone referring them to their place of employment. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help with your employment search.

5. Don’t blame yourself. Things happen every day that are beyond our control, and people will make decisions that can be detrimental to the people they love. It may take time for you to start moving forward, but you can.

6. Know that your feelings are normal. You will experience a range of emotions -- e.g. sadness, anger, resentment etc. They are all normal, given your recent experience. Owning your feelings will also help you move forward.

I sincerely hope everything will work out for you and your son. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing, and if any decisions were made to help you and your son.

-- Ms. Vicki

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