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Tanya Biank: Army Wives

Army life involves more than two hundred years of tradition, rules, and regulations, and it offers long periods of monotony interspersed with moments of life or death. Soldiers get trained for it, but there’s no course that can prepare you for being an Army wife.

Fort Bragg, North Carolina is home to some of the Army’s most elite soldiers – Paratroopers, Green Berets, and Delta Force commandos, the kind of soldiers who are on alert even when the nation is not at war. But Fort Bragg is home to those soldiers’ families as well, and for the wives, Army life involves duties and hardships that don’t always end when their husband’s mission does. The four wives profiled in this book range in experience from Andrea Lynne Cory, wife of a lieutenant colonel, to Rita Odom, newly married to a newly enlisted soldier. On one side of the post, where the senior officers live, there are manicured lawns, model kitchens, and a short walk to the pool; on the other, in the homes of young enlisted men, there are worn carpets, Christmas trees from the Family Dollar…and a long drive to the pool.

But while some parts may differ, Army Wives reveals the many experiences that military spouses share. Families are rarely together at holidays, and wives must find other sources of support while pregnant; few military families can afford not to have a second full-time income. There is immense pressure to preserve the image of a perfect home life, lest it play a role in their husband’s chances for advancement, yet few soldiers return unchanged from the experience of combat. No matter where the mission, a phone call home can be a lifeline for both soldier and spouse – but any knock at the door could bring the worst possible news. Army life impacts every aspect of home life, leading to Biank’s conclusion: “If you ask me, Army wives serve, too.”

Tanya Biank is a Fulbright scholar, journalist, and syndicated columnist. She is a contributing writer to several military-related publications. She lives at Fort Stewart, Georgia with her young son Jack. Her husband, Lt. Col. Michael Marti, and her sister, Lt. Col. Maria Biank, deployed to Iraq in September 2009 for a yearlong tour.