Soldier re-enlists in Iraq while spouse enlists here
July 18, 2008
Any deployed Soldier would probably love for his wife to be able to watch via video teleconference as he re-enlists in the Army. But few would envision what happened during a July 3 re-enlistment VTC for a Fort Drum Soldier in Iraq.
Sgt. Benjamin Crauder, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, raised his right hand and took the oath to re-enlist for six more years as his wife, Kerri, watched on screen in the Summit Room at Hays Hall. When he was finished, Kerri Crauder raised her right hand and took the oath to join the Army as a human resource specialist.
"This is something I've wanted to do for a long time," she said. "And for us to share this together, it means a lot."
She said she planned to join the Army eight years ago, but then she married a Soldier, started having children and kept putting it off. Although they now have four children - ages 2, 3, 4 and 8 - Kerri Crauder said her desire to serve her country never went away.
Crauder visited a recruiter 15 months ago to check the height / weight standards and found out she needed to lose weight. From that day on, she started watching what she ate and running every day and checked in with the recruiter every two months to show her progress. She has lost a total of 106 pounds.
Her husband said he is proud of her and completely supportive of her decision to join the Army.
"This has been a dream of hers for a long time," he said. "She has more self-determination than I do. I've been proud of her since we got married. Plus she looked good when she put on my uniform - she looked like a Soldier."
As for Crauder, he does not plan to get out of the Army any time soon. He said he likes his job as a combat medic.
"I like having the skills to help someone if they get hurt or sick," he said. "I enjoy working with the doctors I get to work with while deployed. I like serving my country and facing the challenges the Army has to offer."
"I'm most definitely glad he's decided to make the Army a career," said Kerri Crauder. "It's a commendable thing. We're both willing to sacrifice."
While both Crauders serve in the Army, they have thought through what will happen to their children if both of them are away at the same time - his mother has agreed to take care of them.
However, there are no plans for that yet, as Benjamin Crauder will be back from Iraq before his wife leaves for basic training.
During the VTC, both husband and wife expressed their gratitude for the support each gives to each other.
"I thank God for one thing the Army has done for me - it brought me and my wife together," Crauder said. "She has supported me throughout these many years, helped me get my stripes. I love you, baby, and I hope I can be a support to you the way you have for me."
"I want to thank my husband for supporting me, because without his support, I don't think I'd be able to do this and accomplish what I've accomplished," Kerri Crauder said. "I hope that I can make you guys proud when I put on that uniform.
"And baby, if I ever outrank you," she added, "I'll be putting you in the front-leaning-rest position."