Back in late 1995, JD decided to volunteer for recruiting. Actually, we decided. He'd received a couple of "recruitment" letters and we finally decided to attend one of their briefings. Let's just say that these guys know what they are doing at these briefings. From the "If you've already received a letter or two regarding these briefings, you may want to volunteer before you're selected." to the "By volunteering you stand a much better chance of being assigned to your first choice of duty station." Yeah right.
I will say that the decision was greatly swayed by the fact that my dad was battling cancer at the time. We saw this "opportunity" as the best chance we had of getting back home, or at least closer, to Iowa. So he put his packet in and he headed to Recruiting School in Jan. 1996. His report date for school was the same day that I lost my father to cancer. We decided that JD should stay at school. We wanted him to finish on schedule. We knew that my dad was pleased at the thought of us being closer to home and would've wanted JD to be done as soon as possible.
I think it was about a week before graduation that he found out where we would be stationed. He called me at my parents' house to deliver the news. It was a shocker, for sure. Not only was it not Iowa, it was nowhere near Iowa. We were headed to NW Pennsylvania. It was like a punch in the gut. I remember feeling numb and even worse, like a sucker. What in the world ever led us to believe anything that came out of the mouths of those recruiters at the theater that day?
We found out later that certain duty stations are harder to get than others and that Iowa was never a very good possibility. So we packed up our belongings in TX and headed to PA. To this day I wonder if he ever really would've come down on orders had he not volunteered. Either way, it's a decision that we had to live with and tried to make the best of.
Making the best of recruiting was much easier said, than done. The hours were rigorous and the work tiring and tedious. As a recruiter, JD was being micro-managed and he didn't like it one bit. He'll be the first to tell you that when he left Ft. Hood, he was ready to go. He was tired of spending 105 degree days in the motor pool repairing the tracks that propelled the howitzers. I believe that he even swore he didn't care if he never saw another howitzer for as long as he lived. Even so, I don't think he was prepared to spend his days in an office, in high schools, and in a car.
It's not an easy transition as the spouse of a recruiter either. Suddenly I was in a civilian community with no military ties and only a handful of other spouses to connect with. Luckily, one of the other wives was funny, warm, and down to earth. We forged a strong friendship. With our husbands working long hours, we often shared dinners together and spent time just hanging out. I kept myself busy with work, too. However, even with work and friendships, it was not an easy time for us or our marriage. JD was miserable at work and didn't want to discuss it at all when he came home at night. My friend, on the other hand, had a husband who dealt with his stress by sharing everything! Of course, she shared with me and then I'd inundate JD with questions. He was not appreciative, to say the least.
We were childless for the first year of recruiting and I managed pretty well. After our daughter was born, though, it got more difficult to accept my somewhat "single" lifestyle. I could expect him home on Sundays, but any other day was a toss up. I grew tired of waiting on him to come home and handling all of the parental duties myself. The last thing he wanted to hear, when he did finally get home, were my gripes. He listened to people all day, everyday, griping at him. If it wasn't the station commander on his case about making mission, then it was parents hanging up on him, even yelling at him.
Recruiting duty is tough and I think it takes a special kind of person to really love it. JD did have good days. Those days he was able to enlist someone who really wanted to be part of the Army and he was able to help them do what they wanted to do, those were the good days.
We managed to make it to the three year mark. By then he couldn't wait to get back to work on the gun line and I was ready to move on. I can't say that he was around any more at our next duty station. They did a lot of training and he had to put in quite a few hours, and eventually he deployed, but he was happy doing what he was doing. And I think that makes all the difference in the world - for both of us.