Posted by: Brad Nixon | March 7, 2010

For Women’s Day

I’m pleased to present a woman’s point of view for International Women’s Day. At this time for recognizing admirable women, the many thousands of military wives are one group not always in the spotlight. Yet these women are second to none in the constant changes and challenges they face. To represent them, I’m pleased to introduce Julie Nixon, an Army wife as well as a mother and educator. For 24 years, she and her husband, my brother Robert, have lived the Army life and Julie has made the most of the journey, handling it all with courage and humor. I’m pleased to have Julie speak for the thousands of women who share many of her experiences.

I’ve heard it said that life is a journey, and my life has been a journey across the country and around the world following my husband in his Army career for more than 24 years.  It’s been a roller coaster of a ride with numerous ups and downs.

Moving is a way of life for most military spouses.  Every two to five years I have geared up to move.  It is one of the most stressful experiences in life, but I’ve done it many times.  The Army tries to make it as painless as possible by paying for almost everything from the big moving truck to mileage, meals, hotel, and temporary housing.  But they can’t do anything about the emotional impact of moving.  Will we find a nice house in a nice neighborhood?  Will we find good schools for the kids?  And what about friends, church and jobs?  You name it.  But most important, how long will it take for me to find a good hair stylist?  My self-esteem and confidence take a nose dive too.  And it takes a full 6 months to a year to recover.

But once established in a new location, life is joyful again.  You can go on vacation in your own backyard by exploring a new state or country.  I’ve enjoyed the beauty of living in the more barren landscapes of Oklahoma and Texas as well as the lush green of Virginia and South Carolina.  Learning the local lingo is lots of fun too.  Sometimes it’s a smattering of a new language such as German.  Other times I’ve found myself talking like the locals in Oklahoma and driving my brother crazy at Christmas time with family.  I always enjoy new food and new restaurants.  Some of my family’s favorites include BBQ in Missouri and beer in Germany.

After the first year in a new location I have established friends, schools, church, and work activities in my life.  Most important of all, I have found that really good hair stylist. And HOORAY! My self esteem is once more back to normal if not better.  Then one day my husband comes home and says, “I got my orders today” and we’re moving again.  That is the beginning of my self-esteem downslide.  Here we go again, time for another roller coaster ride.

But the most stressful, yet rewarding experience of my life with the Army was our move to Ft. Hood, Texas, in June 2007. Here I helped my husband prepare for deployment to Iraq.  By this point in my life, it was a snap to set up house.  We could now afford to live in a nice neighborhood and the kids were all off to college.  My husband is an Army band commander, so I really didn’t have many fears about his safety in Iraq.  But now, how to survive alone for a year or more (it turned out to be 14 months) with no children, no husband, and no job in a new town?  As many military spouses do, I found volunteer work to do.  I volunteered to be the family readiness group leader for my husband’s unit. This work allowed me to keep all the other spouses informed about what was going on, because fear of the unknown was the biggest challenge. After the unit deployed I was able to help individuals through social gatherings, house sitting and babysitting. But I mostly listened to the challenges of each individual and offered advice and sent them to the necessary Army resource for help.  Never have I made friends faster.  These new ladies and children quickly became my new extended family. I also volunteered for the 4th Infantry Division Association.  Here I made friends of active duty and retired military members. I helped raise money to build a memorial for fallen soldiers. My volunteer work was important to the community and was just the lift I needed while my husband was gone.

My husband returned from Iraq in January 2009 and we have moved yet again to probably our last duty station.  And now that my Army journey is almost over I can say I’ve enjoyed the ride and I’m  kind of sad to see it end. (I won’t know when to clean the draperies.  That only happened when we moved.)  But seriously, I’ve learned a lot about others and myself, and about our wonderful country and the entire world. With every move and every step backward in self-esteem, I’ve taken two steps forward. Moving with the Army over the years has helped to turn a shy introverted girl into an outgoing, friendly, confident, strong (Army strong) adult.

Thank you, Julie. And thanks to all the service spouses — female and male — who meet the challenges at home while their service members are abroad.

Shake battle rattle and roll

Shake battle rattle and roll

Here’s a photo showing the Army 4th Infantry Division Band prepared to play for a ceremony outside the secure area in Iraq. Note that though they are holding their instruments, they are wearing full battle dress, and they have their weapons under their chairs. Photo copyright 2010 by CW5 Robert Nixon. This photo may not be copied or reused without express permission.

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Responses

  1. Thank you, Julie, for your words, and for all that you have done over these 24 years!

    Like

  2. Well stated Julie, we’re proud of you.

    Like

  3. Julie, great blog. I really enjoyed Brad’s as well. When are you being deployed to Montana?!

    Like

  4. Julie, Nicely done. I would have loved to have seen the Okie locals imitation!
    Look forward to seeing you in Chitown.
    Pat

    Like


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