VILSECK, Germany - When Spc. Nicholas Matthews and his wife Ami left Charlotte, North Carolina for Germany four years ago, both admitted to not being very handy in the kitchen.

"Neither one of us were cookers, we ate out a lot," said Ami. "My husband use to say I would burn toast but I was never really that bad."

It was during her husband's first deployment to Iraq that Matthews discovered her love of the culinary arts.

According to Matthews, she developed a love for food when she started working as a dish washer at the Tumbleweeds restaurant on Rose Barracks. She and her co-workers, also spouses of deployed Soldiers, would get together and share recipes.

"We just got tired of eating the same stuff every night," she said. "So we would just gather at somebody's house and cook together."

It was through cooking for friends and a lot of trial and error that Matthews was able to discover her ability to express herself through food. Matthews later turned that passion into a career and is now one of the head cooks at Tumbleweeds.

"It's great," she said. "Now when I can't cook for my Soldier I can cook for everybody else's."

It was this connection with her fellow spouses that Matthews said helped her get through the 15 month separation. Matthews said that camaraderie is crucial to surviving a deployment.

"You definitely need to find the right group of wives to hang out with," she said. "Once you find good supportive wives to hang out with, that is all you need."

After her husband's last 15-month deployment Matthews and her support circle feels the upcoming 12-month deployment should be easier. She is looking forward to helping her new co-workers remain strong and happy.

"A lot of the girls I work with are new to Germany," she said. "It will be nice to teach them how we cope and help them through it."

Matthews said one thing is certain. She knows her husband loves his job and she will follow him and continue to support him through whatever journey he takes.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16