By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderSeptember 25, 2008
Getting married is a big step that brings about a lot of changes. For one new husband on Fort Jackson, an unscheduled career change was part of the deal.
Pfc. Jeffrey Lang had no military background and was working construction in his native California when he met his wife of five months, Pfc. Kimberly Lang.
Kimberly's father has been a Marine for 26 years and her brother is in the Army, so it was not too surprising when she decided to enlist.
"I grew up in (the military). It's something I've known all my life - how to live the military life," said Kimberly, who worked as a cosmetologist before joining the Army. "And in the 'real world' it wasn't all that great. So I figured, 'Hey, go back to the military life.' They treat you well, they take care of you, and you're doing a good thing."
The big surprise to everyone was that 33-year-old Jeffrey decided to come along for the ride.
"I never thought I'd do anything like this," he said. "I didn't plan on doing this. I was going to take my contractors' course and be a contractor. And then I met Kim and ended up joining the Army."
While Kimberly talked to an Air Force recruiter, Jeffrey went across the hall to the Army Recruiter and he liked what he heard.
"I told her about the benefits and then she went (to the Army recruiters) and they gave her a better deal, I guess," Jeffrey said.
Both are in Basic Combat Training with the 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, although they are in different companies.
During their time in basic training, they are generally not allowed to have contact.
"We see each other walking by every now and then," Kimberly said.
"There was one time we actually got to eat together," Jeff said. "The drill sergeants set it up."
Going through basic training together has both benefits and disadvantages.
"It makes it easier, in a way, that we're both here," Kimberly said. "Just to know that you have that support there and somebody going through the same thing as you, knowing what you're going through."
"And then again, it makes it hard, too, because I see her, but I can't talk to her," Jeff put into perspective.
"It's kind of a little bit of both," Kimberly agreed.
Jeffrey and Kimberly agree that having acquired a certain degree of maturity before enlisting makes it easier to deal with the mental stress of basic training.
"I knew what I was coming into. And I thought it would be harder," Jeff said.
Kimberly said you just have to realize that the drill sergeants are on your side.
"The drill sergeants aren't out to get you, they're out there to help you," Kimberly explained. "If you know that, it goes through easy."
Jeffrey has signed up for six years and Kimberly for four. Both are considering making the Army a career, but first another lengthy separation is in store. After they graduate Oct. 3, the two will move on to Advanced Individual Training, which will keep Kimberly, a paralegal specialist, at Fort Jackson for 13 more weeks. Jeffrey will train to become an armament/electrical/avionics systems repairer at Fort Eustis, Va., for more than six months.
They are hopeful that after AIT they will be able to reunite.
"I'll get our assignment and then he'll meet me there whenever he's done," Kimberly said.