Former military wives pass along experiences, hope
BAMBERG, Germany — Ilene Stubbs told a roomful of deployed soldiers’ wives about her husband going off to war, leaving her both pregnant and scared.
Thirteen months later her husband returned, only to deploy 10 months later, leaving Stubbs again, pregnant again. Over a five-year period, Stubbs and her husband, Fred, spent more than three years separated by war.
Although the war was in Vietnam, and her story took place three decades ago, little has changed in what the wives of deployed servicemembers face today.
Stubbs and Doris Waldrop visited Bamberg on Tuesday as part of a traveling team called Wives of Warriors, offering tips and encouragement to spouses of deployed soldiers. The team visits Schweinfurt on Thursday and Würzburg on Friday, but the deadlines to sign up for those seminars have passed.
Stubbs spoke of her military life experience candidly and with vivid recollection.
“I married a soldier 42 years ago,” she said. “I found out he was having an affair — an affair with a pair of black military boots.”
Stubbs said she survived deployments by avoiding what she calls “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
“Stress can lead us to be pessimistic,” Stubbs said. “We can’t allow stress to rob us and to take over.”
After offering such tools as exercise and proper nutrition to eliminate stress, Stubbs spoke about reintegration.
“Sex — the romance of coming home, it’s good for about 24 to 48 hours,” Stubbs said. “Then reality sets in. Remember, this reunion is a process, not an event.”
Communication is key both before and during the reunion process, Stubbs said. She added that spouses should let the soldier know about big changes they may have made in themselves or the home.
“I had been in charge of the finances. I had been in charge of the discipline,” she said. “Then Fred wanted to come home and be a part of my great marriage.
“We married military men. They like to know what’s coming next.”
Waldrop spoke to the women about finding strength through their faith and not giving up.
“In God’s kingdom, you are not a failure unless you fail to try,” Waldrop said. “You women, of all people, have so much to offer because of what you are going through.”
The president of the Protestant Women of the Chapel-Europe, Victoria Robinson, spoke about parenting during a deployment.
Although they had heard much of the information before, the wives said the seminar was encouraging and uplifting, especially coming from women who had gone through the same experiences.
“They have really good insight into what’s going on with us,” said Brandie Goosey, whose husband is with the 82nd Engineer Battalion. “They have the experience of what we are going through.”
“These are things we know, but it is good to be reminded,” said Alexandra Davenport, whose husband is with the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment. “It has more value as motivation for us. It has been very uplifting.”
Stubbs left the women with a thought on getting their lives back to normal when the soldiers return.
“Don’t force anything [back into normalcy],” she said. “After this, ‘normal’ has changed for everyone involved.”