This week, we have a really special WWW! This Woman With Wings is not only a pro at long distance relationships and a military wife but she is also currently serving in the Air Force alongside her husband, Patrick. The pair met at the US Air Force Academy on the gymnastics team and three years later decided to make things official. Patrick is currently completing B-course at Luke AFB while Shannen is stationed in Oklahoma City. However, the two of them make it a priority to see each other at least twice a month. This won’t last forever, luckily, as they’re both headed to Misawa, Japan where they can finally live their married life together! The most important lesson Shannen has learned so far as a military wife: communicate!
Number of Years In a Military Relationship
Officially… Almost 3 years. We took a really long time to figure our friendship out. We met at the Air Force Academy, Patrick was on the Men’s Gymnastics team and I was on the Women’s Gymnastics team. We had a complicated start that lasted about three years before we actually started dating, but once we were together, “we knew.” We got engaged less than a year after we started dating and got married less than a year after that. Patrick was at Vance AFB while I finished up at the Academy, and eventually I made my way out to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, the closest base with military contracting jobs. He graduated UPT two months after I arrived and headed down to Sheppard for IFF, which luckily was still very close. The week after we got married I headed out to tech school in Dayton, Ohio (what a honeymoon!). Next he headed off to Luke AFB for B-Course, which was also a lucky move because that’s where I’m from! We try to see each other at least twice a month, taking full advantage of any celebrations with family and friends near and far. We’ve had many trips back and forth between Phoenix and Oklahoma City, but have also been lucky enough to visit Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Columbus, Tucson, and Ireland within the last year! We look forward to heading out to Nashville, St. Louis, and New Orleans for weddings in the coming months before we move to Misawa, Japan in the winter!
Vance, Sheppard, Luke, Tinker, Wright-Patterson
The people, not the location, make the assignment! Explore!
Advice for Finding Jobs
Get a job in contracting! The Copper Cap program is perfect for non-mil spouses to have a career where their spouse is based! Contracting is almost anywhere your husband goes. It’s a stable job with predictable hours, and plenty of other opportunities in the private sector.
Favorite Part About Being a Military Spouse
I love being Patrick’s wife and being able to grow together as we’re continually challenged. Being a military spouse means being fast-paced and open to change. It has taught me so much about patience and being appreciative of every moment we get together. While we’ve been apart, we’ve learned to make each other a priority while also balancing our “separate” lives and jobs. I love being by his side, no matter how many miles apart. Being a military spouse has some unique benefits – the community is incredible. Everyone is so helpful and willing to do anything to make your experience easier than theirs.
Most Important Lesson Learned
Communication! Everyone asks how hard it is being long distance, but in some ways we communicate better when we’re apart simply because we have to! When the only experience you get with your husband is the call before bed, your candor will make or break that conversation. I’ve learned to say the things I’m happy about because I’ve been waiting all day to say them, and to say the things I want to avoid, because I want to waste our time being mad. I’m so thankful we’ve learned this early on in our relationship.
Thank you for your service, Shannen and Patrick!