Dual-military couples reflect on benefits, challenges of serving together
April 25, 2014
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (April 25, 2014) -- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Laquannia M. Marshall is no stranger to the benefits or challenges that come with being married to a fellow paratrooper.
The food services technician and her husband, Warrant Officer 1 Deangelo C. Marshall, a maintenance chief, have been married since 2006. Despite serving through multiple combat deployments and keeping up with the operational tempo in the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., the couple has managed to build a strong relationship and family with two sons, while at the same time building strong careers in their respective fields.
Sgt. Javie Johnson III, a cable systems installer-maintainer, and his wife, Pfc. Jocelyn L. Johnson, a signals intelligence analyst, are relatively new to the dual-military gig. The Devil brigade paratroopers married in November of 2013 but have only enjoyed two months of marriage living under the same roof. The Johnson's spent a month apart when 1st BCT completed its Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La., in January, and Jocelyn deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in February.
The Marshall's and Johnson's represent four of the more than 150 paratroopers in dual-military families assigned to 1st BCT. Despite the trials that come with being married to fellow service members, both the Marshall's and Johnson said having like-minded partners is beneficial to their marriage and their careers.
One of the biggest perks of being in a dual-military marriage, Deangelo said, is the comfort that comes with knowing his spouse understands the demands of being a paratrooper.
Laquannia said their family's average work day begins at 4:45 a.m. and ends around 6:30 p.m. Based on an analysis of each of their training calendars, Laquannia said, she and Deangelo rotate trips to the daycare, as well as who cooks dinner or helps their sons with homework.
"We make it work," Laquannia said. "Being dual-military has its advantages and disadvantages [but] we chose to be together in the Army and the Army's been good for us, so much so that I think that we've accomplished a lot."
The Marshall's met as specialists and they together moved through the non-commissioned officer ranks before being commissioned as warrant officers.
"We've grown together and we've been able to help each other on a professional level," Laquannia said.
Johnson said he and his wife have benefited professionally from their marriage as well. Johnson was promoted to the rank of sergeant on April 1, and said Jocelyn helped him study for the board. He said she has always been 100 percent supportive of his career goals.
"We help each other a lot [with] motivation … and [we're] able to stay focused more because you have somebody giving you that extra push," Johnson said. "It's a real good thing."
As with most situations in life, however, you've got to take the bad with the good. The Marshall's and Johnson agree that a dual-military marriage can be challenging to maintain at times.
The main challenge the Marshall's said they face is the lack of time they get to spend with their two sons. To compensate for being away from their children for the better part of each work day Laquannia said she and Deangelo spend quality time with their sons on the weekends and they work hard to instill positive values in their children.
"By seeing us work hard … and building a name for ourselves, building that credibility that we're 'these type of people' [who] are all about integrity … hopefully our kids … want to do the best they can do," Deangelo said.
"We're definitely trying to build leaders of integrity and leaders who are productive in society," Laquannia agreed. "We just hope through our work they learn to try and leave a legacy as well."
For Johnson, the challenge he has been working to overcome since February is the absence of Jocelyn in his everyday life. He said he and Jocelyn try to talk as often as possible, but with the time difference from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Afghanistan and the hours they work, it is difficult.
"It's been tough, I'm not going to lie," Johnson said. "Life hasn't been the same for me; there are a lot of things I used to do with my wife that I just can't do now because she's gone."
He said what he misses most is being able to make Jocelyn smile.
"Being married in the Army you just have to be strong," Johnson said. "You have to be strong-minded, strong willed [and] you have to keep driving on; it's all part of it."