In a Nutshell
My husband and I were both born and raised in California. I was brought up in Paso Robles- a beautifully manicured small town known globally for it’s contributions to the wine industry. My husband’s stomping grounds were in Corona - another (mostly) beautifully manicured LARGE CITY in busy Southern California. In 2006, a mutual friend introduced us to each other at a church function while we were both in College in San Luis Obispo, and sparks flew in Autumn 2007. We officially started our love story in Spring 2008, were engaged in Fall 2009, and married in Summer 2010. Wow, talk about our story in a nutshell!
Marriage, Year One:
The first year of marriage was very fun but came with some difficulty. My husband was laid off many times from the construction industry. In an economy like this, most people will chose to pay their mortgage over painting their homes, so that meant the paychecks were few and far between. He felt like he wasn’t able to provide for me the way he wanted to, and this ate at his confidence and pride. He started to pursue a career in Law Enforcement but that proved to be fruitless. As I mentioned, the economy was in the tank (especially in California) and very few counties were able to hire new cops or Highway Patrolmen, and once the hiring freezes were lifted everyone in the state would apply for the positions. If you were applying and did not have a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice or prior military service, your chances for being hired were slim to none.
Meanwhile, I had completed most of my educational pursuits. I had an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology (a fancy California word for “Exercise Science”), but I was pursuing a career in nursing. In California, nursing schools are very impacted and hard to get into, or they only admitted students based on lottery instead of merit. After watching my hard working husband get laid off left and right, and after I received letters from schools saying that I was #120 on a waiting list for their nursing programs, one day it hit us: California wasn’t working.
We always said we wanted to end up on the East Coast since the hustle and bustle of the West Coast was not the place that we wanted to raise our future kids. The politics and attitudes that this state projects to the rest of the world were not shared beliefs in our home, so we decided to start over. We didn’t have careers, a mortgage, kids, or educational commitments holding us to the state of California, so we took a huge leap of faith. We sold almost all of our stuff, saved some cash up, and drove with what fit into our car to the beautiful state of North Carolina. We had an apartment waiting for us there, and a lead on a job for my husband.
Marriage, Year Two:
Once on the East Coast, everything fell in to place. We both landed jobs, found a fantastic church, and made some great friends. My husband almost immediately started looking into a career in Law Enforcement once we arrived there. North Carolina counties were hiring a few people here and there, but if you didn’t have a complete college education or prior military service you were likely to be over-looked. He knew that he eventually wanted to finish his college education but since we were new to the state of North Carolina, paying for classes at the Junior College meant paying out-of-state tuition and we were not willing to do that. So, my husband looked into signing up with the NAVY Reserves.
Let’s Look into the NAVY Reserves
Being a NAVY Reserve meant that he could put “prior military experience” on his applications with Law Enforcement agencies, plus it wasn’t as scary to me as being enlisted in the Navy. Only one weekend a month and two weeks a year? And some health-care benefits? Okay, I could handle that. Plus it wouldn’t be for a long time – just enough to complete some service to his country – and then life could settle down and he could be home every night after working as a cop.
Once he got the okay from me, my husband met with a NAVY recruiter in North Carolina. The recruiter took him down to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). At MEPS, civilians interested in starting a career in any military branch are tested mentally and physically to see if they are an appropriate candidate for the life of a soldier, marine, airman, sailor or any other serviceman. While at MEPS, all military candidates take an aptitude test known as the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) to see where their strongest skills and strengths are. After a candidate completes the ASVAB, their scores determine what jobs can be offered to them.
Enlist? No Way!
My husband did really well on the ASVAB. When the recruiter heard how high he had placed, he was told that he could pretty much have any job in the NAVY he wanted if he were to enlist. Enlist?! I was not open to that idea at all. You see, I have a brother enlisted in the Army and another brother enlisted in the Air Force, both of which I worry about all the time. I could not imagine being married to a Sailor. I did not think that I could handle being a NAVY wife – moving all the time, constantly pulling kids in and out of schools, and not being able to enroll in nursing school. After listing all of my fears and concerns, my husband sweetly chose to only pursue the Reserves.
From Civilian to Sailor