Homefront Spouse Fills Void with Work, Study, Volunteering
March 27, 2008
VICENZA, Italy - True to her belief that "life doesn't happen to you, you happen to life," Jordan Talbot didn't put her two lives on hold when her husband deployed to Afghanistan in April 2007.
"I've had two distinct lives: a student life and a snowboard life," explained the 25-year-old native of Smithtown, N.Y., who is a full-time recreation programmer for the Bamberg, Germany, military community while working on her doctorate in public administration.
Jordan said her sporting life has included almost seven years as a competitive snowboarder and coaching national snowboarding champions, at a world cup and at the professional level. Her academic life includes a bachelor's in natural resource management from Cornell University and a master's in public policy from the University of Albany.
Her husband is Capt. Nicholas Talbot, commander of Charlie Troop, 1-91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Jordan met Nicholas in a public speaking class when she was an undergraduate. While they were still just friends, then 2nd Lt. Jordan deployed to Iraq for 16 months and Jordan "promised to be the best pen pal he'd ever had."
A couple of years later "pal" got upgraded to "partner" in a West Point wedding and Jordan joined Nicholas in Germany, where he was assigned to a 173rd ABCT unit. Eight months later Nick deployed.
Even before her husband headed downrange, though, Jordan said she had volunteered at their military community's outdoor recreation center. She is a firm believer that military spouses who want to work should try volunteering.
"You have to put yourself out there," Jordan said. "You have to be proactive. Things don't come to you. Sometimes it's just as easy as walking up to a person and asking someone a question."
Or, in Jordan's case, making a statement.
"She walked in and saw me in the back [of the building] cleaning and setting things up, and she said 'I can help,'" recalled her supervisor and the center's director, Paul Calain, about how Jordan became a member of his staff.
"She's phenomenal at keeping track of a program. She makes it happen and then she follows up. She does all those little things that make the difference in the quality of a program," Calain said.
She was soon putting her snowboarding skills to use as she moved from volunteer to flextime employee, to part-time and then full-time recreation programmer. In addition to organizing leisure and cultural trips, Jordan said, during the winter months she works six days a week running the ski and snowboard rental shop and teaching snowboarding on the Austrian slopes.
This month Jordan passed her exam for level-two snowboard instructor certification after a three-day course at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps.
When not teaching on the slopes or tackling her doctoral studies, Jordan has traveled to such places as Majorca, Paris and Venice, and still she finds time to volunteer her opinions about hemlines and haberdashery.
"Jordan has taken the mantle as costume designer for several productions, which is an intensive job coordinating, designing, choosing and altering or fabricating costume elements for shows with 50 or more costumes," said Jack Austin, entertainment director for the Stable Theater in the Bamberg military community. "She has also helped with set painting and decoration, most famously the munchkin houses and the Emerald City for the 'Wizard of Oz' this past fall."
For the costume design she did for "Little Women," Jordan won a Topper Award in the Installation Management Command-Europe Tournament of Plays. Austin said Jordan's costumes competed with entries from 17 community theaters in military installations throughout Europe.
"She also has an uncanny knack of recruiting other people to help," continued Austin, "including saving us by finding a replacement for the male lead after the original actor was sent downrange ... nine days before the show opened."
So it's little wonder Jordan "I-like-to-be-doing-not-watching" Talbot claims: "I purposely don't have a TV service at the house because I don't like to sit around."
Her good friend Jenny Reed is also the spouse of a deployed Soldier in the 173rd ABCT, and she admires Jordan for her coping skills.
"She's doing everything right," Reed said. "She has a full-time job, she volunteers, she has friends over for dinner and she listens to us when we have problems."