When we are deep in the trenches of military life, we may feel like nobody else gets it.
Our mothers don’t understand why we are moving for the second time in less than 12 months.
Our friends don’t understand how we made a new friend when we’ve only been living in Texas for a month.
Our service members don’t understand why we aren’t ecstatic when they tell us about a great military career opportunity (military speak for long hours).
Vicki Cody gets it.
Cody, the author of “Army Wife: A Story of Love and Family in the Heart of the Army,” gets it because she lived it.
For more than 30 years, Cody supported her husband and his Army career by moving numerous times, raising their 2 sons and finding joy in the journey of military life. Over the years, Cody learned to embrace the uniqueness of her circumstances and she find self-fulfillment and pride in her role. She also learned to be comfortable being alone in a new home while his husband was away.
“But as much as I adored Dick and loved being with him, I realized I could survive being away from him for long periods of time. I loved him, but I didn’t need him in order to be happy,” she writes in “Army Wife.”
Cody’s memoir opens with the moment she met her now-husband, a West Point cadet at the time, and finishes with her husband’s retirement ceremony in August 2008.
In her memoir Cody takes the reader by the hand and welcomes you into her on-post quarters. She shows the personal impact that world events had on her life as a military spouse. Cody tells us what she was thinking when the rest of the world was watching the news of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Cody shares her reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, knowing that not only would her husband, but her sons (who are also Army aviators) would be impacted by the war on terrorism.
“If the terrorist attacks were a turning point for all of us in the United States and our way of life, they were also a turning point for the Army. We went from a peacetime military to one preparing for combat operations almost immediately,” Cody writes.
Even though, I have only experienced military life from a post 9/11 operational tempo, I still found myself nodding along with Cody’s perspective. Here’s why.
The emotions, the struggles and the victories are the same for today’s military spouses as they were for Cody’s generation.
“The weird thing about reunions and reintegration is the fact that two different dynamics are at play at the same time, creating a conflict of emotions. You’re riding high on the actual homecoming, but then, at any given time, something can trigger emotional outrage and bring you down. In that instant, you hate the very person you love, the person you just welcomed home,” Cody writes in “Army Wife.”
Just like me, Cody found herself in unfamiliar territory when she married her soldier.
In the book, Cody replays a conversation between her husband and her when she was a self-described “brand-new” Army wife. Her husband is teaching her about the Army and his position. He’s throwing facts and acronyms at her to explain why he wasn’t at home in time for dinner. To which she answers
…Tell me, what’s the acronym for ‘brand-new’ Army wife with no friends, no jobs, and homesick as hell?
Just like me, Cody didn’t know what military life would be like when she said “I do.”
“I had no idea how the Army would dictate and determine our fate, pull us in different directions, and test our relationships, over and over again. That it would be the source of some of our biggest stress and fears and, at the same time, our greatest joys,” Cody writes in “Army Wife.”
That for all the challenges we faced, we would experience great satisfaction; for every downside, we would find an upside; for every separation, there would be a reunion.
See, Cody gets it.