Military wife; military life
August 29, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas-- An army wife wears many hats; mother, wife, employee, friend, confidant, caretaker, and more--but, Debbie Jarzynkowski somehow makes it look easy. While working full time as a manager at the Fort Hood Area Thrift Store, and the Family Readiness Group leader for 575th Forward Support Company, she also volunteers more than 180 hours a month, and is a full-time wife, mother, and grandmother to her husband, seven children, and three grandchildren. She is a licensed teacher for Child Protection Service, and has fostered 93 children throughout the years.
Jarzynkowski, a native of Chicago, started her journey when she met and married Robert Jarzynkowski, now a first sergeant, in 1983. Twenty-nine years later they are still madly in love, and are back in Fort Hood where they met. When asked about how to keep a relationship strong even with the stresses of military life, her advice is always to date and show the other person how much they are appreciated. She says that writing small notes on places they will be at and doing nice things shows the spouse they are loved, not buying them jewelry or expensive items.
"When Soldiers ask me how we keep it together after all these years I always ask them what they do to show their spouse they care," said Jarzynkowski. "Jewelry and stuff you buy is not important to them, because military spouses need to be validated as much as Soldiers do. They need to know every day that the sacrifices that they go through mean something,"
Jarzynkowski has been through many deployments, so many she lost count. After 30 years of being a military spouse, she has learned the importance of reaching out when you need help. She has an open door policy and always tells families to call her anytime--and means it.
"I always tell new spouses and spouses going through deployments to know their family readiness group because they are important and a good resource. I also tell them to get involved, know their Soldiers' chain of command, and be familiar with resources available to them both on post and off," said Jarzynkowski. "Soldiers have a buddy system and spouses should too."
Military spouses could also be considered the backbone of the Army because they support their Soldiers as much as noncommissioned officers would, and go through trials with them. Jarzynkowski said that all military spouses are sisters and affect their Soldier's careers.
"It is important being a military spouse because your actions can make or break your husband. You put a sense of pride into everything you do because you know that it affects your Soldier," said Jarzynkowski. "The title of military wife gives off a rapport, no matter the rank, and bond does not break. Military wives are sisters and that is what a lot of people on the outside do not understand. When your husband goes out to war, the military spouse is fighting a war at home."
1st Sgt. Robert Jarzynkowski, the first sergeant for 575th FSB, and husband of 29 years, said that he couldn't have made it through his career without her and gives her credit for all she does. He said that her giving nature and support has made it possible to be a Soldier.
"She is my rock and has been there for me through it all," said Jarzynkowski. "I am amazed at everything she does daily and I would be lost without her."
With a full-time job, children, husband, and grandchildren, Jarzynkowski still finds the time to volunteer at various organizations on post. Jarzynkowski has won volunteer of the year and several meritorious recognition awards for her dedication to the Fort Hood community. She says that volunteering is important and gets addicting.
"I love getting out and meeting people. The more I get out there to do things, the more I think 'what else can I do.' It is very addicting," said Jarzynkowski. "Volunteering is very important because you are able to get out and help those in need. I always tell spouses to get involved because you can connect with so many wonderful people."
Andrea Nunez, the Family Readiness Support Assistant for 41st Fires Brigade, has worked closely with Jarzynkowski and said that she goes above and beyond to help families.
"Debbie (Jarzynkowski) takes in families as her own and mentors them," said Nunez. "I have witnessed many instances where she assisted families when Soldiers were deployed, and helped them get into school or whatever they wanted to do. She is a great FRG leader, and an inspiration."
With only 24 hours in the day, Jarzynkowski does so much to help others and does not want any validation or praise.
"When I touch Soldiers' hearts and they say 'thank you and that they couldn't do it without you,' is the best validation. That is why I do it."