Story by: Airman 1st Class Ryan Throneberry
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
MCGUIRE, N.J. - Valentine’s Day is a day for couples to show appreciation toward one another. This day is especially important for some service members due to the unique nature of the military lifestyle.
The challenges faced by those who serve, be it deployments or irregular work hours, put added strain on relationships.
“Being a military wife is a tough job,” said Mary Kierstead, 87th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant from Grampian, Pa., and 21-year spouse of retired Chief Master Sgt. Tom Kierstead. “The most important thing for a spouse is to be patient, flexible, understanding and supportive through the ups and downs of his or her spouse’s military career. For deployments, the first is always the hardest to deal with, but it gets easier.”
The Warfighter and Family Readiness Center personnel offer a number of ways to help service members and their families through the tough times. For instance, “Give Parents a Break” is a child care service which provides spouses of deployed service members a chance to have some time to themselves.
While Valentine’s Day may be the traditional day to celebrate love, the rest of the calendar year should not be neglected.
“Valentine’s Day may be a great time to show that special person you care, but don’t save your love and affection for certain days of the year,” said Kierstead. “The day-to-day respect and courtesy is key to keeping a relationship going.”
Much has changed since the time of snail mail and telegrams.
“During World War II, the only way to regularly correspond with loved ones was with letters or the very rare chance to send a telegram,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Hansen. “A letter would typically take three or four weeks to reach someone in England or on the war-front.”
With the dawn of this new technological age, staying connected has never been easier.
“The technology of today has made going on a deployment much easier for military couples,” said Kierstead. “Skype is an invaluable tool to stay connected because you can actually see your loved one’s face.”
Skype is one of several free internet video-chat services. With or without technology, the time spent away from home can be a challenging part of the deployment.
Maleswary Chanquin, 87th FSS community readiness specialist and military spouse from Ontario, Calif., is married to Army Sgt. 1st Class Nelson Chanquin, 309th Combat Support Battalion operations non commisioned officer. Chanquin has deployed four separate times for a total of 48 months combined.
“When he was gone, I did my best to update him with every aspect of my life and vice versa,” said Chanquin. “I would always end the phone or video chat session call by telling him how much I love and respect him.”
Chanquin took advantage of the time she had during her husband’s deployment to make positive change in her life.
“When your spouse is gone, don’t look at it as a negative but a time to improve yourself,” said Chanquin. “I used that time to finish my master’s degree.”
The WFRC personnel offer many classes, seminars and briefings to help couples through the difficulties of being a military spouse. Call 754- 3154 to schedule a counseling session or for more information.