Army 1st Lt. Amy Clements lived with her husband, Adam, also a first lieutenant, for about four months before he deployed to Iraq.

Army 1st Lt. Amy Clements lived with her husband, Adam, also a first lieutenant, for about four months before he deployed to Iraq. (Vince Little / S&S)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq — Three female Army officers in the 127th Military Police Company symbolize the struggles and sacrifices of dual-military couples around the globe in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Except for a few weeks here and there, Capt. Tristan Vasquez, 1st Lt. Amy Clements and 1st Lt. Sara Skinner have essentially been separated from their husbands — all infantrymen assigned to the 1st Armored Division at Friedberg, Germany — for roughly two years.

“People are making sacrifices that no one ever sees,” said Capt. Kevin Hanrahan, the 127th Military Police Company commander. “Not only are they taking part in combat, they’re altering their lives by being separated from their husbands. These are true American patriots.”

Skinner and her husband, 1st Lt. Bruce Skinner, both graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2002, were in Iraq at the same time from June 2003 to March 2004 and found ways to visit each other.

“We had about two months together in Germany before I came back here in September,” she said. “That’s the only two months we’ve lived together in our marriage.

“But that’s pretty normal right now. Lots of military couples are going through the same thing. A lot of people think it’s impossible.”

Skinner points to soldiers during World War II, who often endured years of separation from spouses.

“We have it a lot better than them. We’ve got e-mail, phones, regular mail,” she added. “Our living conditions are a lot better. Generations before us had it a lot worse and they made it through.”

Married in March 2003 around the start of the Iraq war, Vasquez and husband, Jose, a first lieutenant, spent about two weeks together before he was sent to Camp Casey, South Korea. After military police training, she went to Hanau, Germany.

Their paths crossed briefly last year during the 1st Armored Division’s three-month extension in Iraq.

“It’s coming up on our two-year anniversary, and we’ve lived together for about two months and three weeks total,” Tristan Vasquez said. “The rest we’ve given to the Army.”

Both are slated for a return to Iraq within the next year, and they’ve opted to stick with the military for the long haul.

“There’s a better chance I’ll see my husband here in Iraq than if I stay in Germany,” she added. “I’ll take the chance.”

Clements and her husband, Adam, also a first lieutenant, both graduated from West Point in 2002. Both assigned to different bases in Germany, they lived together for about four months before he deployed to Iraq.

“Every time we see each other, it’s like a honeymoon. I think we’re on our eighth,” she said.

But given the U.S. military’s current climate, the three women certainly don’t consider themselves unique.

“The three of us are not the only ones in dual-military marriages,” Clements said. “There are a lot of them out there, and they all face these same struggles and hardships.

“You just have to keep working for the times you do get to spend together.”

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