By Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. PolancoFebruary 16, 2017
Grafenwoehr, Germany (Feb. 16, 2017) -- "I'm more of the laid-back one and she's more of the feisty one," said Staff Sgt. Jason Barksdale, an instructor at the 7th Army Training Command's Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA), here.
Jason, a father of four, is married to another instructor at the same academy, Staff Sgt. Brooke Barksdale. Both instructors have been assigned to the academy since May 2015.
The dual-military couple have been married for the past seven years, yet this is their first duty station together.
After spending the first three years of their marriage apart, the 7th Army NCOA provided an opportunity for a medical laboratory specialist and a supply NCO to not only be assigned at the same duty station, but both as instructors at the same academy.
The couple went from working states apart to buildings apart.
"Initially, he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and she was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina," said Staff Sgt. Dale Kelso, a fellow instructor at the NCOA. "They came here and were able to get this opportunity to come together."
But being dual-military and instructors at the same time has its ups and downs.
One of the perks is having a schedule that is set in stone a year out, which allows the Barksdales to plan ahead.
"We can pretty much plan anything we want to do," said Brooke, who's used to the fast-paced tempo at Fort Bragg. "I see more of my children, and I have more family time here."
They found the leadership at the academy is supportive and accommodating in their roles as dual-military parents.
One of the challenges the Barksdales face is having to work longer days. Sometimes their schedules can conflict due to NCOA job requirements or temporary duty assignments away from home.
"It can get kind of strenuous sometimes because classes spill after hours and a lot of paperwork is involved," explained Kelso, who is married to a civilian.
"But I think when you have those leaders that are understanding, that helps out a lot," said Jason. "The leadership here gives notices in advance."
Another challenge that Brooke and Jason faced, but managed to overcome, was not talking about the Army at home.
"Although instructing is something that we both love doing, when we go home, we try not to talk about work," said Jason.
But as a married couple, they understand the importance of communication even if it involves bringing up work.
"I can come home from work and have a horrible day and explain to him why, and he understands," said Brooke. "At the same time, we can relate to each other's successes at work, like not having missing paperwork."
As battle buddies, the Barksdales know they can rely on each other for help.
"I like that if I don't know how to do something here, I can call him and ask him how to do the task," said Brooke.
Brooke also knows she can rely on her husband for a little healthy competition as well.
"We are always trying to be better than each other," Brooke said as she mentioned Jason's awards as the NCOA Instructor of the Cycle and Instructor of the Quarter. "I don't like losing, so I'm always trying to do better."
Even though the Barksdales are a few buildings apart at the academy, they finally found their balance through quality time spent, like taking 30 minutes of their duty day to sit down and eat breakfast together.
"If they could do it apart, they could do it here," said Kelso.