For the third and final installment in ACI’s 3-part series honoring veterans and how they’ve personally touched the lives of the employees at ACI Specialty Benefits. For this blog, we are featuring ACI Executive Assistant, Amanda Rodgers, whose husband Jack was in the Marine Corps. Enjoy the blog and be sure to check out the launch of ACI’s new Veteran Module as well as the ACI veterans videos on YouTube.
A Military Love Story: Amanda Rodgers
Who in your family is involved in the military and what do they do?
Jack, my husband was in the Marine Corps for 8 years. He was in infantry for most of that time with 2 deployments to Fallujah, Iraq. He was an aircraft rescue firefighter for the last year and a half with one deployment to Afghanistan. He left the marines as a Sergeant in August of 2012 in order to go back to school to get his college degree. Right now he is just working on his general education while he tries to figure out exactly what he wants to do!
How has having a family member in the military affected your life?
It’s affected my life from the day that we started dating. One month into our relationship, Jack had to go to Texas for 3 ½ months for a training program.
It definitely forced our relationship to grow.
When you are dating someone in the military, you have to get used to them being gone for a lot of time – and half the time, it’s unexpected. I respected what he did from day one but that didn’t mean it was easy.
We dated long distance for almost two years before I moved to San Diego to live with him. Leaving my job, friends and family in San Jose was difficult – but it was the right decision.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced having a military family member?
The biggest challenge for me was his deployment to Afghanistan. That year he missed Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday. The worrying was the worst part for me. You don’t get to speak to them often; weeks would go by without hearing from him. I would see things on the news and freak myself out all the time. You’re constantly checking your phone and worrying.
It was hard for me to get used to his schedule as well. My grandfather was in the military when I was young but in my adult life, I was never really surrounded by it so I didn’t know much about the military life until I met Jack, and it definitely took a lot of getting used to.
Describe a favorite moment or memory you have with this person.
My favorite memory is the day that Jack got home from Afghanistan. Being there and experiencing that was amazing. There were women who had babies that were meeting their dads for the very first time. I had seen it on TV, but being there in person to welcome home someone you love was so much different.
He flew into Miramar so we were able to wait on the runway and watch the plane land and see them all get off the plane. He flew in a few days before my sister’s wedding and was able to make it to Maryland for the wedding. We didn’t know if he would be able to make it until just a few days before. It was such a treat.
What were some of the biggest advantages of having a military family member?
Being able to go shopping on base was nice because of the discounts! It was also nice to attend the Marine Corps Ball and take advantage of such a military-friendly area like San Diego.
What are you most proud of in terms of this family member’s service in the military?
Jack received many medals and awards throughout his military career.
He deserves all of them.
Jack served through three tours in his eight years in the military and each time he was in a very dangerous place. I admire his bravery so much; he was on the front lines when he was in infantry in Iraq. Throughout his career, he didn’t complain and he never showed that he was scared. He knew what it was the day he joined the Marines, and he always had a positive attitude about it all.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s been interesting to see the transition from being in the Marines to being a “civilian.” The first thing Jack did was grow a beard. It had been eight years since he could so it was nice to see him enjoy little things like that. I know he misses being in the Marines but he’s happy with the choice that he made.
He’s going to school as a full-time student now. At times when he’s up all night studying, I can tell it’s frustrating for him, but he also understands how lucky he is to have the GI Bill. These brave soldiers serve our country and the GI bill is an amazing program available to veterans that should be used to its fullest potential to help these soldiers reach their own.
I was really scared when Jack was getting ready to get out of the military because he had been in since he was 18, and it was pretty much all he knew. I was worried that he was going to be lost or depressed, but luckily he’s been doing great. He only had a 2-week break in between his last day in the Marines to his first day of college, so he didn’t have much time to think about it. I think the forced quick transition has helped him a lot.
For more information on the Veteran Module please visit our YouTube channel and be sure to follow us on twitter @ACISpecBenefits, Google+, Pinterest and facebook. Also feel free to contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.