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Family Matters Blog: Dual-Military Couples Serve Together

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2010 – Heather Forsgren Weaver, a colleague at American Forces Press Service, is a regular contributor to Family Matters. Heather's been heavily involved in this blog from the start. She edits, helps write and posts content on a daily basis.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Airman Donald Nolen and Senior Airman Sheri Nolen walk down the aisle as husband and wife after their wedding ceremony Aug 4, 2010, in Southwest Asia. The Nolens are members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. They were married by proxy on July 12, 2010, through the state of Montana. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. April Wickes

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In this blog, Heather writes about a couple that married recently "by proxy" and other dual-military couples.

Getting Married and Serving Together

Earlier this week, a friend of mine asked to look at my wedding album. As we paged through the pictures, I was struck by the contrast between my wedding photos and one I had seen earlier that day on the Air Force news website.

The difference in those images, one of a couple in traditional wedding attire and the other in camouflage, and what that represents, made an impression on me.

When I got married, and to this day, I've never worried about whether when my husband goes to work, he will be injured or worse by an enemy in a war zone. Military couples don't have this luxury.

Often it is just one spouse sending another spouse off to serve, not both spouses, even newlyweds, serving. But the picture I saw along with the story written by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing gave me a new appreciation on my own wedding photos.

Staff Sgt. Larlee writes about the recent marriage of Senior Airman Sheri Nolen and Airman Donald Nolen in his story, "Couple's Path to Marriage Winds Through Deployment."

Donald's idea of proposing to Sheri while they were skydiving was scrapped last spring when Sheri was given five days notice to deploy. "Fortunately for the couple, her future groom had a planned deployment to the same location in June," wrote Staff Sgt. Larlee.

The Nolens were married in Montana in a "double-proxy" ceremony since both were serving in Southwest Asia. Montana is the only state that allows couples to be married by having two people stand in for the absent bride and groom.

"We pretty much just e-mailed a couple of certificates," Sheri told Staff Sgt. Larlee. "It really felt more like we were applying for credit cards than getting married."

Since there really wasn't a ceremony when the marriage became official July 12, co-workers threw the couple a "wedding" Aug. 4 -- just before Sheri was to go back to the United States. It was their "wedding" picture that so greatly contrasted with mine.

Instead of a wedding dress, Sheri wore a train "made out of airman battle uniform material and the groom had a boutonniere made of pink tissue paper pinned to his uniform," Staff Sgt. Larlee wrote.

After I read the story about the Nolens, I was interested to find out whether other couples had gotten married while deployed. I didn't find any others in my quick search but I did find a story about dual-military couples.

"In today's military there are a growing number of dual-military couples where both spouses serve, leading to some unique challenges and hardships during deployment," wrote Army 2nd Lt. Gregory Maull of the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team in his story, "Dual-Military Couples Deploy Together, Appreciate Time With Each Other."

Donald and Kristina Schmit are both privates first class serving in Iraq. The Schmits cherish their time together after spending a year apart.

"Being deployed together has strengthened our relationship, and I am glad to see my husband on a daily basis," Kristina told Lt. Maull.

The Waltrips, Sgt. Brian and Spc. Kaylynn, met while they were both stationed on Fort Bragg, N.C. Both now are deployed to Iraq as part of the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade's Dragoon Troop.

"It's a blessing and it's hard at the same time. Whenever my wife is on the road, it's like I'm out there with her," Brian said.

The Padillas are both deployed but Sgt. 1st Class James is in Iraq and Staff Sgt. Monica is in Afghanistan.

"Fortunately, with instant messenger, webcams, and phones, we are able to keep in touch even if we are thousands of miles apart," James said.

I know there are a lot more stories out there about dual-military couples and we would love to hear about them so please write in and share.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Army Staff Sgt. Monica Padilla currently serves in Afghanistan while her husband, Sgt. 1st Class James Padilla, is deployed to Iraq. U.S. Army photo by 2ND Lt. Andrew Mayer  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Army Pfc. Donald and Pfc. Kristina Schmit are currently deployed to Iraq. U.S. Army photo by 2ND Lt. Andrew Mayer  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Sgt. Brian Waltrip and Spc. Kaylynn Waltrip serve in different battalions within the 3rd Brigade's Combat Team but are both stationed together on Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by 2ND Lt. Andrew Mayer  
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