Being a senior Personnel NCO married to a Ranger, Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Pearson knows a thing or two about deployments and separations. She spent a year in Bosnia.
Her husband, Sgt. Maj. James Pearson, was in Afghanistan at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. Weve probably been separated more than weve been together, she said.
Despite that, Pearson, now a student in the Sergeants Major Course Class 54 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), Fort Bliss, Texas, swears being a member of a dual-military couple is a great experience.
I believe its been very positive. The deployments are small stuff, she said. Sure were away from each other a lot, but we have a good relationship and our strengths complement each others weaknesses.
Being a member of a dual-military couple presents a unique set of challenges, still, many choose to endure the hardships, finding a balance between their marriages and their careers. More than 20,000 dualmilitary couples currently serve in the U.S. Army. The majority of these couples 79 percent enjoy joint domicile assignments, but that doesnt mean they wont endure long separations and domestic difficulties.
For Soldiers contemplating trying to marry up matrimony and the military, veteran dual-military couples stationed throughout the Army have plenty of advice to share on the subject.
Being in the military has strengthened our relationship because every day is a test, said Pearson whose husband she added, also a Class 54 student, has been a valuable resource for training and motivation. Being a Ranger, hes been able to help keep her tactical skills up to speed. She, in-turn, has been able to provide him with personnel and finance information.
Were a team, she said. Hell use me in a heartbeat, just like Ill use him. Were both professional Soldiers and we believe the Army is where we should be, she said.
You dont have to make a choice whether you want to stay in the military or stay together with your family, said Master Sgt. Yolanda Choates, Public Affairs chief for the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Meco Choates, is the Protective Services Training Branch course manager for Company A, 701st Military Police Battalion.
Its possible to do both; its challenging. Its not easy, but anything worth striving for is never easy.
Doing both, keeping a family together while accomplishing the missions set forth by the Army, is something many dualmilitary couples face. One way to meet the challenge is by enrolling in the Married Army Couples Program (MACP). Established in August 1983, the MACP is a program designed to help ensure Soldiers married to other Soldiers are considered for joint domicile assignments.
The hardships associated with maintaining a family while being a Soldier are compounded in a married Army couple, said Lt. Col. Patrick Sedlack, chief of Plans, Procedures and Operations Branch, Army Human Resources Command. The MACP was established to help alleviate some of the problems by trying, when possible, to assign married couples at the same location. The goal of the program is to ensure that MACP Soldiers are considered for assignment together as often as possible.
To enroll in the MACP, married couples need to submit a Department of the Army Form 4187, Request for Personnel Action, to their local military personnel office. The personnel office will then process the information and enroll the Soldiers. If the Soldiers are assigned to separate duty stations, each Soldier must submit a DA Form 4187 to his or her personnel office.
The Married Army Couples Program works, but it doesnt guarantee you will be assigned together, said Staff Sgt. William Herold, a paralegal assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vicenza, Italy. His wife, Sgt. Antoinette Herold, is a paralegal assigned to Headquarters Support Company, Southern European Task Force, Vicenza, Italy.
There are a number of things which can make it difficult for the MACP to station a couple together, said Sedlak. If two Soldiers have the same low-density MOS, they may be more difficult to station together, he explained. Or if a Soldier has an MOS in which most available assignments are outside the continental United States (CONUS), for example, a Soldier whos a Korean linguist is married to a Soldier with an MOS in which most available assignments are in CONUS, it may be difficult to station them together.