Marriage comes with its own unique, yet natural challenges; but for a dual military couple, those challenges may double or triple. Being married while in a different branch may seem impossible, but the youthful and vibrant couple, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Parker and his wife U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Andrea Parker, have been doing the seemingly impossible for eight years and counting.
Ironically, both Andrea and Nicholas are from Llano, Texas and they have actually attended school together since the second grade.
Andrea joined the Coast Guard prior to Nicholas joining the Army and they exchanged phone numbers at his going away party before he joined the U.S. Army and the rest is history.
Today both Nicholas and Andrea have been in the military for 10 years. They have been married for eight years and have two children together. They are both currently stationed on the island on Guam. He is assigned to Echo 3, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, Andersen Air Force Base and she is assigned to Naval Base Guam, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia, District 14. Due to their service in different branches of the military, they are faced with many challenges.
"The challenges for me, I'd have to say, stateside I'm used being the one gone mostly and deploying," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Parker. "Being here, she's the one that's going under way so I'm having to do a lot of the parent role and getting the kids ready for school."
In short, he has to take on more of the parenting role in Guam since she is on the ship a lot more. She had been away at sea for six months recently.
"Also understanding the coast guards terminology and how they speak; its totally different than the army," Nicholas stated.
Part of the challenges they face is the occasional conflict of having duties at the same time in their respective military branch. Sometimes they have to get a last minute baby sitter, but they have found help with these issues.
"For us, it was pretty much making friends and then finding people we trust to become apart of our little family," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Andrea Parker. "Friendships and camaraderie, pretty much have helped."
Because of their dual military relationship they are both very understanding of the responsibilities that come with their specific branch.
"Someone outside of the military doesn't really understand the late hours, or why you're working these type of late hours, and she definitely understands it; and works with me on it, " Nicholas remarked.
With all the obstacles they conquer together, they truly understand to take advantage of the time they spend together.
"I would say we definitely value our time that we get with each other and even extended family," Andrea stated. "Its just you don't know how much you miss someone until they cant be there all the time."
Where there is trial and tribulation, there is the opportunity for triumph. They have found ways to stay together physically although they are in two different branches of the military.
Our first time being stationed together was when she found a unit in Oklahoma City and I was stationed at Fort Sill Oklahoma, so we lived between the two bases in Chickasha, Oklahoma Nicholas stated.
After they left Oklahoma, they struck gold once again and were able to both get stationed in Guam.
Her last unit was closing down and I reached out to my branch manager and was able to attend THAAD School to get orders for Guam, Nicholas remarked.
Moving forward, Andrea has recently come down on Orders for San Antonio, Texas to a cryptologic unit and Nicholas will be assigned to Fort Hood, Texas. Through it all, communication and understanding has aided them in their journey so far and they will continue to use the tools that got them here.
"Communicate with each other, try to understand what your spouse is going through and how you can help that individual out," Nicholas stated.
"It takes a lot of work, but if you really want it to work, it will," Andrea remarked.