Dual Military Marriage,

Story by: Pfc. Melissa C. Parrish, Headquarters Fort Bliss

To have and to hold from this day forward ... For better or for worse ... Through multiple yearlong deployments.
These aren't the typical words couples recite at their wedding but they could very well be incorporated into any military spouse's vows.
For couples in a dual military marriage, time apart is a fact of life.
Capt. Nicole Jackson, Logistics Officer for the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), and Capt. Vincent Jackson, Chemical Officer for the 1st Armored Division, have been married for 10 years. They met as cadets at Towson University in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.
Vince, once an enlisted Soldier always had aspirations to become an Army officer. He enrolled in the "Green to Gold" program two years into his Army enlistment and attended Towson University.
Nicole was attending college and enrolled in the Army ROTC program at a nearby college.
"I was attending the College of Notre Dame of Maryland but a mutual friend convinced me to try ROTC at Loyola College," said Nicole. "We met at PT and he asked me to join the ROTC club at Towson University (where he was attending). I agreed to join him and we've been inseparable ever since."
They married on Oct. 14, 2000. The events of 9/11 would now test the strength of their marriage.
"We were in school when the twin towers were hit," recalled Nicole. "After this happened we both knew that if we stayed in the military, the future meant us spending time away from each other."
Vince was one year ahead of Nicole in the ROTC program.
"I knew I was going to the 101st Airborne Division and deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the initial forces," said Vince. "I realized I would be in combat while she was still in school."
Deployments and time apart became a new routine.
Nicole recently geared up to embark on her third deployment. As a part of her preparation for deployment she traveled to the National Training Center (NTC), Fort Irwin, Calif. to train with her unit for one month before heading to Afghanistan. After she returned from NTC, Vince then left to go to NTC for one month as support for a deploying unit. Their time together was shortened dramatically and they had less time together than they originally thought.
"When I left for NTC I didn't think I would get to see him again," said Nicole. "It was emotionally draining but I had him motivating me to push through and I knew that even if I didn't see him before I left he would be there when I got home."
The 142nd CSSB deployed for a one-year tour to Afghanistan on May 7, 2011. Vince is slated to deploy next year with his unit. This means a possibility of two years in a row spent apart.
"I am just going to focus on my work and school while she is away," said Vince, who is pursuing his master's degree. "I know it will be tough but I also know we have a strong relationship. We have developed a strong foundation based on honesty and trust. It has worked for us."
"I don't think the time apart ever gets easier, I think we find ways to make them more bearable," said Nicole. "Talking on the phone, constant emails and letters definitely help."
"This is a volunteer Army and we both know that," said Vince. "We don't just serve when things are perfect."
"We volunteered for this job and when the nation calls, we will answer," said Vince. "That's what we get paid to do for this great nation."
"I think it's a blessing to have a spouse who truly understands my responsibility to the Soldiers and my obligation to the Army," said Nicole. "I love being an Army officer and I equally love being an Army wife."

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