Career couple serves Army well for 40 years
February 9, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 9, 2012) -- Take one blind date, add more than 40 combined years of service, throw in experience as a movie extra and TV first sergeant, toss in two sons, spice with an E-8's chevrons and a CWO 3's bars and you've got a recipe for two successful Army careers - and twin retirements.
Nikquisha "Niky" and Paul Frazier have spent years preparing for the civilian careers to follow their upcoming retirements from the Army. The work and planning are paying off for the dual-career couple who were honored at a retirement luncheon on Feb. 3 at the Lee Club. Their official retirement date is April 1.
Niky, a Signal Corps chief warrant officer 3 with 20 years in the Army, is set to use her military training and experience as well as her academic background in a new civilian job managing a global satellite network that handles tactical communication for the Department of Defense. She is currently on terminal leave.
Paul, an Adjutant General Corps master sergeant whose military occupational specialty is human resources, is completing an undergraduate degree in his field while on permissive temporary duty in conjunction with terminal leave.
The Fraziers met on a blind date while Niky was at Fort Benning, Ga., for Airborne School and Paul was stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C. Later, they ended up in the same Fort Jackson unit and dated for six months before marrying.
Paul, who's been in the Army about 18 months longer than Niky, said the compatibility of their MOSs and the fact they have been in different units has allowed them to be stationed together often. There was one three-year period, said Paul, when the Family was together for just a few weeks at a time because of deployments and schools.
Niky noted the military's dwell time policy doesn't acknowledge dual-career couples. They agreed this is one policy area that could be improved to benefit couples who both want a career serving their nation.
Despite the occasional lack of sufficient dwell time, Niky and Paul have always managed to have at least one parent with their two sons, Sabion, now 18 and set to graduate from high school in June, and 13-year-old Nicholas who is an eighth grader. They hope Nicholas will be able to graduate from the high school he enters this fall. Sabion is graduating from the third high school he has attended.
While frequent moves and school changes for children are drawbacks cited by many military Families, there are off-setting benefits such as travel and educational opportunities for the parents. The Fraziers' duty stations have ranged from South Korea, where they had an extended stay and their younger son was born, to Germany where they had opportunities to travel to other European countries with their sons.
They were also stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Jackson; Fort Rucker, Ala; Fort Eustis and Fort Lee. Paul's deployments took him to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq; Niky deployed to Iraq.
Besides having the opportunity to be an Army drill sergeant, participating in the filming of "Renaissance Man" is one of the highlights of Paul's career. He spent 45 days on the movie set and trained civilians as the squad leader of the main platoon in the film directed by Penny Marshall and starring Danny Davito. The 1994 movie was shot at Fort Jackson.
While stationed at Fort Sill in 2001, Paul was among the drill sergeants involved in the television show, "You're in the Army Now, Private Sweet." Several episodes of that series, featuring a television reporter's efforts to get through a week of basic training, are on YouTube.
In addition to building their military careers, the Fraziers believe their time in the Army has helped their sons grow in maturity, independence and discipline and learn to be more courteous and responsible than many teens whose parents have chosen a non-military path.
Transitioning to civilian jobs is a challenge the Fraziers have been focused on for last five or six years. "I've been making sure I'd be in demand," said Niky, noting that she has earned two associate degrees, a bachelor's and a master's degree as well as computer certifications in information systems.
"We're very marketable," Paul agreed.
They encourage other Soldiers to take advantage of the Army's tuition assistance while they are on active duty.
"Plan your future with the same dedication as you serve the nation in the military," said Niky. They both encourage Soldiers to consider the future. Their advice ranges from saving money while you're young to maintaining a good credit rating and getting that education squared away.
Also, they encourage others to take advantage of the classes and assistance available through the Army Career and Alumni Program as they have. "The classes are really good. Take as many as you can," said Niky. ACAP also is helpful with the mountain of paperwork facing Soldiers who are preparing for retirement. Particularly helpful is the assistance in documenting medical records, they said.
Good communication is the key to success for dual-career couples, say the Fraziers. "Be supportive of each other as you move on your different paths," said Niky. "Don't be competitive with your spouse."
When you're both in the military, said Paul, it's easier to "put yourself in the other's shoes" and understand what your spouse is facing.