A love-hate relationship with the Press.

I have done interviews and  been quoted many times. Every once in a while they do a pretty good job and I like to give them kudos. I did a quick response to an Associated Press Correspondent yesterday about the possibility of longer submarine deployments. I’m sure he found me by the power of Google, and normally it’s hit or miss if my thoughts ever end up in the final draft or if they are even my words. I just try to take part when I can. I think it’s great that a spouse is heard in these discussions.

This morning was normal as I reached for my iPhone while still wiping the sleep from my eyes. . .Until I saw the number of e-mails and alerts. I guess I’m not the only one who Google’s people. My blog or column was not mentioned in the articles, but my name and that I had one was….so people and the power of Google found me and felt compelled to write. I love that….well so far. There are all nice emails for now. 

Michael Melia from the AP did a great job on the article. For those who wrote me or come this blog because of it, below is the word for word response I gave via e-mail. I know he had to pick a simple quote, but I know a lot of you would like to know the full thought…not just an edited clip.  Just Google or click the following  “Navy Explores Longer Submarine Deployments” for what was published.

Good Morning Mike, 
Thank you for contacting me on this subject. I am running out the door, but can give you a quick answer that you have my permission to use any part as a quote. 
I have only heard about the possible extensions of the SSN’s (Fast  Attack Submarines) which has been an ongoing consideration due to decisions made over the last 20 years that are now causing a short coming. To fill the gap, our subs would have to deploy longer. Obviously our subs are an expense, but because most don’t know what their missions entail, they are not willing to argue their need. 
Any kind of extension will affect both the crew and their families in some form. Is it enough to break the morale of our Submarine Force? We won’t know until it happens and the exact extensions are given and practiced. Though it is hard to compare our Branches of Service with their missions being so drastically different, we have witnessed a change with “boots on ground” deployments overseas. These deployments have not only been extended to breaking points, but they are reoccurring. In my opinion, this has weakened the morale and productivity of service members and their families. 
Submarine spouses are strong and resourceful. Any deployment is a challenge, but with the right support from the commands, extensions have worked when needed in the past. As a wife, I don’t know my breaking point. I can’t tell you the magic number that a deployment would have to pass for me to throw my hands up and say, “I’m done.” The stress comes from the limited contact. There is nothing worse than going through an emergency and making decisions, without your spouse, that will impact your family. 
Our Submarine Service Members struggle with adapting to home life as it is. Again, the problem is not the time apart, but the limited contact. People assume that because there is now email capabilities, that we get to write and email like they do. That isn’t true. When we do have email, which is not consistent or reliable, we are limited to what we are able to send. We are not allowed to attach anything or include photos. We are also not allowed to talk about a number of things. A submarine’s morale is one of the most important things and therefore any stressful or other than happy upbeat news is not allowed. So, we can’t say that the dog is sick and may need to be put down. We can’t talk about health problems, death of a family member or friend, etc. So, the most stressful or testing points in a couples life cannot be discussed. Decisions are made based on assumptions and good intentions. As spouses, we do our best, but sometimes it’s not enough. Marriages can fail because of the lack of communication. 
With all that said, this career is a choice and it is not for everyone. It takes a very strong person to live aboard a Submarine. I couldn’t do it and I have the utmost respect for those that do. Only time will tell if this decision will affect retention and our submarine force. As for the families, you don’t know how strong you are until strong is your only choice. 
Thank you for writing about this and if you would like to talk further at a later time, I’d be happy to chat.
Marie Hobson
Military Wife Columnist 
Author of “Anything But Dependent” 
 & “They Call Me Dependent” 

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