By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 10, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Serving in the Army is certainly one of the toughest jobs a person can choose, but supporting that Soldier as a spouse or family member can be just as difficult, according to an author and long-time Army spouse who recently visited Fort Rucker.
Vicki Cody, author of "Army Wife," and wife of retired Gen. Richard A Cody, brought her 33 years of experience and knowledge as a military spouse and mother to Fort Rucker to share her story with current spouses and show the impact a strong support system can have on their Soldiers.
Cody spoke at The Landing Nov. 4 about her life as a military spouse and mother, into her transition as the mother of Soldiers and how that was one of the hardest jobs she'd ever faced.
"A couple years after 9/11, both of our sons were in Iraq together … and I was in one of those dark places when I just didn't know how I was going to deal with it, so I just started writing -- it was my therapy," she said. "I had this big story to tell. And I knew that I had to write a book for all of you and all of us about Army (spouses) and how we live, how we cope and how we enjoy every minute of (our experience)."
Throughout her book, Cody explores every aspect of her marriage and family as a military family, and how she dealt and coped with the stresses of Army life, something that each audience member was able to relate to.
Despite the difficult times, however, she said she's grateful for everything she has and all the experiences she's been through.
"I wouldn't trade any of it," said the author. "It wasn't always smooth sailing and there were a lot of tough times, but it was out of those tough times that we grew the most as a couple and as a family. So many people don't face diversity and challenges until later in life -- it's thrown at all of us on day one."
Sarah Amerson, military spouse, was in the audience and is all too familiar with the challenges that come with life as the spouse of a Soldier. As a new mother and military spouse of four years, she said she wanted to come out to listen to Cody's story to get some advice on how to cope with the stressors that can sometimes become overwhelming.
"I just wanted to hear advice and input of experience from someone more seasoned than myself about how to navigate all of these different paths that happen and things that are thrown at you," said Amerson. "You're kind of juggling on how to make it work when there's really no grid for you to go on, unlike what my spouse is going through where everything is so dictated and therefore charts the course for our family.
"I appreciated that (Cody) can take the time to share her experience with us with her story," she said. "I think spouses' stories aren't heard as often as the Soldier's story, and I think spouses are really relevant."
Amerson, who's lived on Fort Rucker for just over a year and a half, worked in higher education for 12 years before becoming a military spouse and deciding to put her career on hold to commit to her husband's new career path.
"I think I've done a wonderful job of transitioning into the role of support system for him to be the strong and stable Soldier he is -- that in and of itself is a job," she said. "I had a season where I was a career professional, and now I'm in a season where I'm supporting my husband and our family."
Amerson said one of the challenges she faces is that that oftentimes civilians don't understand the amount of responsibility that comes with being an Army spouse and can often be looked as "just a stay-at-home mom."
"I'm a military wife and a mother, and for someone who's not a part of (the military), that doesn't sound like much, but you also have to get involved in your community," she said. "Getting involved is the only way spouses can make it through such a lifestyle that is going to be laced with transitions, and this is the first of many for us, but I choose to be happy."
That happiness is the same choice Cody made throughout her time as a military spouse, and it was on that level that Amerson was able to relate. But despite all the difficult times, Cody said that spouses should always stick together because they are the ones who are going to help through the tough times.
"There is not a day that goes by that I don't count my blessings -- I know how lucky I am," she said. "Once an Army wife, always an Army wife, and we embrace each other in good times and bad times. Those (spouses) who are closest to you are the ones that help you get through it and I celebrate us as Army (spouses). Know how remarkable you are."