“We met at the world’s smallest Christian college. We were friends but we definitely did not date. Several years passed and we kept in touch, but not on purpose. We kept seeing each other and decided, ‘let’s just date.’ Truthfully, I’m a sucker for a man in uniform.
“I was working as a reporter. I was assigned to a National Guard unit as an embed and deployed with them in the efforts following Hurricane Katrina. I fell in love with covering the military. I started taking hostile environment courses and Arabic (which I still can’t speak, by the way), and I ended up working for the Army Times publisher. I found it exciting, like I was part of something important. I loved covering the local news, but as an embed you don’t feel like you’re just covering a story, you feel like you’re actually a part of it.
“I moved to be near him, to date in person, up to Washington State. I left my job with a freelance contract in hand to cover military issues near Fort Lewis. I did that for a bit, and then left journalism for a period until I could figure out what I wanted to do.
“He deployed when our baby was five weeks old. I got a fellowship and wrote my project on military marriage and divorce. I sat next to a guy who ended up at Military.com and he let me publish my fellowship findings on SpouseBuzz. I did and started writing for them regularly, until I became the Editor in Chief a year and a half ago. I also recently started a site, Humans Outside, detailing our adventures in Alaska and encouraging other families to spend time together outdoors.
“When I’m not writing, I’m running. I started running in 2010. We had a lot of deaths in my husband’s unit. None of us knew what to say to the spouses. One woman in particular, Lisa, lost her husband and she wanted us to run with her. So we did. She went on to cofound Wear Blue: Run to Remember. When you run the Marine Corps Marathon, there is an entire mile dedicated to those who have lost their lives. I wanted to run MCM just for that. It’s unspeakably emotional; it was the culmination of many years of watching these families grieve and grow, and there they are, holding flags while you run by. I remember running through and just wiping away tears. It is so moving. I saw a woman I know cheering along the runners on the sidelines. There she was, under a blanket, battling cancer and holding her son’s flag. What an incredible moment to know she was out there and that we could honor him. I stopped to hug her and I started sobbing.
“When we moved to Alaska, we immediately got involved again with Team Red, White and Blue (RWB). Every year, they do a coast to coast ‘Old Glory Relay’ run starting on 9/11. 62 teams carry one flag across the entire United States. This year, our Alaska chapter was chosen to do an OCONUS addition to the relay.
“My husband handed me the flag in our relay. The emotions are almost impossible to describe. You have this moment where you are carrying this symbol of sacrifice; it holds everything we have laid on the line for this country. It represents what our friends have lost. What we’ve lost. It’s honor and courage and character. You don’t get to dictate what it means to anyone else, but as people were running toward me and passing me on the out and back, I could tell it meant something to them. It was mile 20 of their race and they were cheering. You are the bearer of something so much bigger than yourself. It’s important to us that our boys see that. We want them to know that people go out and do hard things on purpose, and that a life well lived is about community.”