Face of Defense: Marine Wife Writes of Military Lifestyle
By Marine Corps Cpl. Melissa Echenbrenner
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
MIRAMAR, Calif., April 11, 2014 Adjusting to the stresses and challenges of the Marine Corps lifestyle may seem overwhelming, but for one spouse, finding peace amidst the struggles comes through creative expression.
Marine Corps Cpl. Nicholas Mastorakos, left, an aviation ordnanceman with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, and his wife, Jessica Mastorakos, right, stand for a picture upon his return from deployment. During her husband’s deployment, Jessica gave birth to their first-born son, one of the many hardships they’ve faced as a military couple. Through all of the hardships, Jessica remains positive and works to help others to do the same. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Jessica Mastorakos, an active volunteer with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323 “Death Rattlers”, remained inspired by the people around her who share experiences unique to military couples. Through the strength of the community around her, Mastorakos wrote and published her own novel.
“The obstacles that I’ve faced as a Marine wife are probably pretty standard to many military spouses,” Mastorakos said. “We’ve been separated on birthdays and most holidays, cancelled planned trips and even our own wedding. But the single-biggest obstacle was having a complication-riddled pregnancy and the birth of our first son while my husband was deployed. You never know just how much you can handle or just how strong you are until you have no other option.”
She published her book and is working toward others, hoping to inspire military couples and teach civilians about the hardships associated with the military lifestyle.
“I wrote it for military spouses who, like me, were looking for a love story that was similar to their own,” she said. “Being in love with someone in the military offers unique struggles that civilian couples simply do not experience, and I feel that it is important to highlight these relationships.”
Mastorakos explained that the family readiness officer helped to support her during the difficult times. She hopes to “pay it forward” through her volunteer efforts and by making sure those who need help receive assistance.
“My favorite part of volunteering with the Marines is the feeling of paying it forward or everything coming full circle,” Mastorakos said. “We all need support at one time or another, and when I provide support to my fellow ‘Snake’ families I do it with a grateful heart knowing that I have been supported in the past as well. I like that I can repay those who helped me by also helping whereever I can.”
She hopes to encourage other spouses to volunteer or help out in any way possible.
“You don’t have to start with a marathon -- just go for a short jog,” she said. “There are many squadron-hosted events that would be fun to participate in. However, even just supporting fellow military families by being a good friend or neighbor can go a long way toward a productive unit. Start a girls’ night or join an established one, go to a L.I.N.K.S. (Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills) class, or even bake cookies and send them to work with your Marine. All of these things can lift your spirits and connect you with others just like you.”
Mastorakos plans to continuing writing books and volunteering, with no foreseeable end in sight.
“I hope that as new Marines and their families join the Snake family, the sense of community will welcome them as it did for us,” she said. “All I want is for that spirit to continue.”