This week, we have a really special WWW! This Woman With Wings is not only an expert at long distance relationships and a military spouse, but she is also currently serving in the Air Force alongside her husband, Tony. Tony and Kelly met during their junior year at the Air Force Academy. They were both in the same rock climbing PE class and ended up being belay partners. They spent the rest of our time at USAFA rock climbing, hiking, off-roading, and exploring Colorado together! They even got stuck up in the mountains a couple times while off-roading. Tony and Kelly got married the October after graduation while Kelly was attending graduate school in Ohio and Tony was stationed at Scott AFB. Kelly has called three bases home with only one being with Tony. They are about to celebrate 4 years of marriage right before Tony leaves for a one year deployment!
Advice on Bases
“Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. This base is nice because you are within an hour drive of Cincinnati and Columbus and within a 6 hour drive of a ton of other big cities (Louisville, Indianapolis, Detroit, Nashville, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburg, etc.). The area around the base is nice so the commute is short. The cost of living is low and there is a lot of job availability for spouses. A great base to raise a family!
Scott AFB, IL. Although this base is situated in the cornfields of Southern Illinois, you are only about a 30 min drive from downtown St. Louis which means you get the choice of living in the city, on a farm in the country, or somewhere in between. There is a train that gives you an easy ride into town and to the airport. STL is a cool city with plenty of food, events, sports, and concerts. The schools around the base are good so it’s a nice place for families.
US Air Force Academy, CO. If you love to be outdoors, nothing beats Colorado! There are countless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, camping, skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, offroading, white water rafting, and more! The base is built on the side of a mountain and there are beautiful mountain views from anywhere in the city. The summers are beautiful but the winters are a bit long…but it’s sunny there so the snow melts quickly. There’s also a large military community there which is nice. The cost of living is a little higher, but nothing astronomical. There are plenty of job opportunities and good schools.”
Advice for Deployments
“I have a bunch!
For our last deployment, I waited until Tony packed all of his bags then while he was away running an errand, I sneaked into his bags and hid a bunch of cute notes written on post its. I stuck those bad boys to everything: his laptop, battery, inside boots, between shirts, his gas mask, and in every pocket. I wanted him to find those notes over the next week or so to know that I’m thinking about him. He definitely appreciated the gesture.
Have someone available to talk to after you drop him off at the airport. I didn’t think I would cry when I said goodbye but I did. It was nice having my mom and a couple of friends to call afterwards in case I didn’t want to feel alone. Try to build up a support network of family and friends to keep you sane while your spouse is away. I’ve been lucky to have friends to third wheel with (I’m pretty much a professional 3rd wheeler by now).
Use FaceTime/Skype as much as you can, but also realize that one or both of you may be too tired/busy to talk every day and that’s ok! Along with that, one tip I learned from my coworker is to never play the “who had the worse day” game. Meaning, be empathetic to the hardships that each of you are going through in your separate lives. Being in a war zone is hard but so is holding down the fort alone at home.
I find it best to have a routine to keep my mind positive. I like to wake up and work out every morning. Having that feeling of accomplishment and endorphin rush in the morning just sets my day up in the right direction. I notice that the days I don’t get up and exercise are the days I start feeling sad and lonely. Set goals for yourself! Sign up for a race and work towards it while your significant other is gone! You will have plenty of extra time to work towards that goal.”
Favorite Part about being a Military Spouse
“Even though we spend a lot of time apart (for us, we have spent more time living apart than living together and Tony is about to deploy for one year), I love how these times make us even happier to see each other. We value the time we have together so much more because we know there are going to be times where we will be apart. I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder!”
Most Important Relationship Lessons Learned
“Communication is important: both speaking your mind and listening to your spouse. The earlier you communicate about something, the smoother things go.
We like to appreciate the small things in life, whether it’s being able to walk the dog together in the morning, taking our dog out to ice cream (what can I say, he’s spoiled!), making pancakes while watching the Sunday morning news, holding hands in church, or watching the sun set over the mountains while eating a pizza.
Over this latest chapter of living apart, I’ve tried to develop a new mantra. When Tony is gone and I’m all alone, I have two choices. I can choose to feel sorry for myself and my situation or I can feel empowered by my situation. Don’t get me wrong, I have my times of feeling sorry for myself every once in a while. However, by and large, every day I choose to feel empowered by everything I do. For example, since Tony’s departure, I have lost my main hiking buddy. But now I research and choose the hikes myself, carry everything in my pack (Tony used to carry all the heavy stuff!), and hike alone with our dog! Hiking a mountain all by myself reminds me about how strong I really am!”
Thank you for your service, Kelly and Tony!