Friday, October 30, 2009

Support Systems

Have you found that there is a good support system for military wives? Has it been easy to make new friends?

While I only have experience at one base thus far, I will say that the answer to this is really up to you. This base and I believe most do, have a Family Readiness Center. They set up weekly play dates, classes for new military families, and have a lot of information on how to help you adjust. I have only used the FRC for free childcare when I moved here. They offered 20 free hours of babysitting for each of my children when I moved here so I could unpack, go shopping, do whatever. I was hesitant but met with one of the caregivers (they do it in their homes) and she was super nice and great with the kids. It was a huge help to have a break right away. I have friends that have gone to the weekly play date and met people that way also.

I have not partook in much of the bases' outreach on supporting new military families. I have a church that is located everywhere in the world (Latter Day Saints aka Mormon's) and thus I have a support system as soon if not before I move to a new place. I am blessed that way. So I have a lot friends from my church that live on base, whose kids go to school with my kids etc. BUT I also have made quite a few friends through my child's school, other JAG wives, and in my neighborhood. There is an officer's wives club but I never joined it. I personally don't know many women that have been involved with that so I don't know how that goes. If you live on base, you see a lot of the same people every day and it is easy to make new friends. But if you don't put yourself out there then you may find it more difficult.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Top Gun went TDY.

What does this mean? Technically I think it stands for Temporary Duty Yonder. To me it means he's gone for a week! He has to take a legal assisting class in Virginia. He'll be back late Friday night, just in time for Halloween. This was something I didn't expect or know about when we signed up for the Air Force. Yes, I knew Top Gun could potentially be gone for deployment. Yes, I knew he'd be gone at first doing COT and then 9 weeks at JASCO. But honestly, I thought that was more traveling involved.

I was so wrong!!

Apparently there are quite of few (potentially) of these TDY's he may go on. They'll be for some different kind of training each time but again it means he's gone. Some are just a week others can be up to 4 weeks. Oh and if he ever does get set to be deployed they will first TDY him to a 6 week training course. Yup, that's right! Add another month to the "6 month" deployment. I don't mean to sound annoyed but it has been a long 3 days without Top Gun. I miss him. I'm envious of all the dinners he gets to eat out, the social soirees they put on for him, the quietness of no babies crying, just the getaway as a whole.

Although, your spouse may be one of the lucky ones and not go TDY often. There's one JAG in Top Gun's office that in her one year of being a JAG she hasn't gone TDY once besides COT and JASCO. On the other hand there is another JAG in his office that has gone a handful of times.

As a side note I have a Halloween activity tomorrow night at my church. Three of my good friend's husbands won't be there. One's husband is a Dentist, another a JAG and the last one is a Pilot. And of course Top Gun won't be there. All have military responsibilities tomorrow evening. Welcome to the Air Force!

I promise to start sharing more of the positive...there really is a lot. I'm just having one of those days :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Top Gun's 1st Case but Not

Top Gun has been working on a Homosexual discharge case for the past 2 weeks.

This was his first case that we was taking the lead on.

He had done another discharge case a few weeks ago but another JAG took the lead on that case. Anyways, he was up til 1:00 on Friday night working on his closing argument and went into work at 5:00 this morning to get ready for what was suppose to take place tomorrow. He was planning on coming home at 5:00 to eat and then later this evening head back to the office to prepare a little more. He went to practice his closing argument with one of the Major's in the court room around 4:45. When he came back into the office at 5:00 pm everyone told him, "She Waived!"

Which essentially means she's guilty and no longer wanted to take it in front of the board.

She'll be honorably discharged b/c if you don't know already there's the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy in the military. If you are a homosexual you are not allowed to engage in any homosexual activity. Which I will make into a post at a later date b/c I am curious what others think about this topic. Especially since Obama wants to abolish the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy. point of this post is what a bummer and waste of time!! All that hard work for nothing! Top Gun didn't seem too disappointed. All he really kept saying to me was, "It happens and can happen a lot."

So are you saying that you woke me up at 5:00 am this morning while you got ready for nothing?

I hope he knows I never fell back to sleep :) And I was really looking forward to seeing him all dolled up in his service dress (think a nice crisp suit, but a military suit) for his courtroom appearance instead of his ABU's (the green cameo's)!!!
Hi - my husband graduates in December and is considering his options. How competitive is it really?

While I don't have hard numbers for you I can give you a decent answer. Top Gun went to a top 10 law school but he also knows JAG's that went to 4th tier law schools. They take a range of candidates. The Air Force JAG Core is more competitive than the Army's. Once you interview, that specific board may pass you up but you have the option to tell them that you would like to be considered again. We have a friend that was passed up his first time and applied again a few months later(maybe it was a year) without doing anything different or adding to his resume and he was accepted the second go around. It does happen. Also, this year was more competitive because the JAG Core had more applicants than it has had in previous years. Our guess is likely because of the weak economy. Seeing that the economy is still weak and law firms continue to lay off and hire less new attorney's straight out of law school, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of applicants is even higher next year.

I hope this helps. The good thing is you can always interview and if they say no then you don't have to worry about it and if they say yes you can still come back and say never mind I found something better. I just wouldn't plan on trying to work for them down the road if you rejected them once before. You can always pull out up until the point that they offer you an assignment (where you'll move and be stationed).

Friday, October 16, 2009


1. If we are going to start in March based on your experience when should we expect to be given our options of bases? We were given our base choices one month before Top Gun left for COT. However, I think they try to give more time than that generally. 2. I know the first time they give you two choices, were either of them on the "list" you filled out? Our two choices were not even on our radar! There is a slim chance you'll get your top picks the first go around. After that, it really just depends. JAG's from our current base have typically received their 1st or 2nd top choice for their next assignment. Why? Because it is a busy base (meaning lots of cases and work for the JAG's) and not the most desirable location so they try to make you happy by accommodating you with the next go around. 3. When does the housing allowance start? The day your spouse leaves i.e. drives to COT or leaves to catch the airplane is the day he will officially go on active duty and that's when you'll start accruing salary and BAH (housing allowance) 4. Why did you choose to live on base vs. off-base? We were told several opinions regarding this matter. Many will say "You have to live on base at least once for the experience" or "It's good to live on base to help you acclimate to the military." Initially, I wanted to live off base b/c I wanted to feel as "normal" as possible. Meaning I didn't want to feel like I was in the military. However, I was offered a brand new 2000+sq foot house on base which also meant a 2 minute commute. I also knew nothing about the military so I figured living on base would help with that and it has. With that said, even though we live on base I don't feel like it's too much military in my face all day long, on the contrary actually. I am SO happy we live on base. It's a very nice base, I have great neighbors and I feel as "normal" as one could. With that said I do not plan on living on base the next go around b/c it's likely that we won't be offered such a nice home and we'll also recieve a higher BAH (housing allowance) and be able to afford a nicer home to rent off base. 5. With three kids (that is how many I have), how big of a house did they give you and is it nice? I have a brand new home, 4 bedroom and 2 1/2 bath. Each base will vary. I hear it's all downhill from here. The houses that would have been offered to me if this one wasn't finished are old and in my opinion not that great but not horrible either. They were built probably in the 70's. Every thing is very industrial looking. Imagine the kind of tile and carpet you see at your kids school! Once you recieve your assignment each base usually has a website and you can view the on base housing there beforehand so you have some sort of idea on what they offer.
6. We have heard that most are deployed right around the 18mth mark, have you noticed that from other JAGs around you? While Top Gun says most isn't necessarily an accurate word, it is true that a good amount are being deployed around 18mths. However, we'd say anywhere between 18mths to your 3 year mark is the likely time you'll be deployed, if you'll be deployed. 7. We also heard that the deployment time is moving from 4 mths to 6 you know anything about this? This is very true, 6 months it is. We haven't heard of anyone only going for 4.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To finish my baby story...

I was at my mom's cleaning her closet out when Top Gun called and told me the news. Right away I told him I felt like saying "Yes" because I knew how heart broken he was (and me too) when they told us we'd have to wait until October to start and how antsy he had been to start but that of course I had to pray about it b/c after all I was going to be having a baby and there was no way I was having it without him. I called my Doctor immediately and he said he would induce me at 39 weeks but no earlier and that if the hospital was really busy I'd be the first to be pushed back due to it being elective.

Well I was set to be induced on the night of May 19th but started contracting on my own about 3 hours before I was scheduled to go to the hospital. I gave birth early the next morning with Top Gun by my side...Hooray! I am so blessed he was there and that we had a healthy baby. He left 4 days later and we didn't see him again for 6 weeks. He came home for 12 days and left again for 9 weeks. It was very difficult but again now that it's behind us I can say it wasn't too bad ;)

They tell you what you "like" to hear

What do you mean by 5 different start dates? We were given the option of starting in Oct, Jan or March. We picked March...from your experience do you think that might change?

First off, no I don't think your start date will change. That is if they have already confirmed with you by something in writing, email or hard copy, his start date and after he has passed all his medical testing.

Top Gun needed to pass a physical before the AF would consider him. Remember that thick packet that required the last 10 years of medical history etc. Well, Top Gun is as healthy as they come and never went to the Doctor so he just didn't have any medical records to submit. Also, him being gone for 2 years b/c of a mission for our church somehow stupefied the Air Force. He needed the Surgeon Generals office to sign off on his records and be cleared so he could have his physical done. This takes 30-45 days...just to get cleared for the physical. Back in November 2008 when Top Gun passed the bar they told us his start date would be January 2009. That is for him to head off to COT. Well b/c of the holidays papers never even got sent to the office until January so there went the January start date. Then we were told March. Well March came around and the Surgeon General finally approved Top Gun but of course it was too late for the March class b/c it was now full. They said we'd likely start in May. Well he finally got the physical passed...duh...and of course by that time the May class was full. But we didn't want May b/c I was due to have our third baby a few days before that COT class began anyways. They then had to get back to us but that August would be the start date. Well I don't even remember what happened exactly but when they finally called us, the August class was full and the first available COT opening was in October 2009. We were devastated. We were tired of being in limbo for so long.

I kept telling Top Gun to call D.C. and tell them if anyone drops out he'll take their spot b/c we were eager to begin. No joke...the following did indeed happen.

On Friday the 10th of April Top Gun talked to our contact with the Air Force. He informs us that someone has dropped out of the May starting class and since Top Gun has been in the works since last year, he has been given priority to have the option of starting then. He can say no and wait until his assigned October start date or accept this offer; the option was his. Initially we said no to May (it was never available for us anyway but if it would have been we were not even on the list to accept it, b/c of the due date of our baby). So we are then told we have the weekend to decide and to let them know on Monday. Top Gun would need to leave on May 25th so he could start his training on May 26th for 4 weeks. He'd have a 2 week break which he could take as vacation time or report to his base, then go back to Alabama to complete JAG school. Oh and did I mention that my due date was MAY 27th!!!!

So there is the clarification of our multiple start dates! They tell you over and over what you want to hear so you'll stick with them. In the end, now that I'm here and Top Gun is finally working, it was worth it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What do you love most/least about his career path?

Top Gun went to a Top 10 Law School. His peers were coming out making six figures. Some thought they were coming out making six figures and then the economy tanked and they were let go before they even started their jobs. But we have several good friends that work for big law firms in San Francisco, Dallas, Alaska, D.C., and New York. I quickly learned that I didn't want the lifestyle that some of them had. Oh, I wanted (and still do at times) for Top Gun to make $160,000+bonuses a year. Who wouldn't?? But I didn't want to sacrifice the lack of family time we would of had. If he would have worked for a big firm he'd get home every night at 7:00 at the very earliest and been out the door before any of us were awake. Not too mention the stress that comes with the hours he would have to put in. He wouldn't have practiced law the way he can as a JAG. Week 2 on the job as a JAG he was in the court room. It takes years for some attorney's to enter the court room at a big law firm. Sometimes money is not worth it. So to answer what I love least about his career path is the's not lucrative, unless you want to stay in it for the long haul. Also, the whole deployment thing is a huge turnoff. Especially how I just mentioned lack of family time being an issue!! Contradictory I know but on a day to day bases I see my husband more than I would if he worked else where.

What do I love most? The opportunity to explore and see new places, meet new people. I like adventure. Will my kids though? I am told, and I believe it to be true, siblings who move a lot are generally closer. They lose friends so often that they become best friends with each other. I have all girls and I can see them being tight knit as we move around every 2 years simply b/c they have to if they want a constant friend!

General Work Hours

What are his general hours now?

This answer varies from base to base depending on the work load. I can only give you what our schedule has been like thus far. Top Gun has come home for lunch almost every day (we live on base). He has PT (Physical Training) 3 mornings a week that start at 7:00. That last 30-40 minutes and then he comes home, showers, and reports to work at 8:30. On the days he doesn't have PT he reports to work by 7:30. The end of the duty day is 4:30 but he doesn't finish and come home until 5:00. When he is in trial he will get home later depending on how much prep time he needs. As his years in the service get longer and he practices as an Area Defense or a Senior Trial Counsel, he will travel a lot more, have more cases and will have a much more demanding schedule. However, those are paths he doesn't necessarily have to take.

COT and JASOC (JAG School)

Question from minelli123:

When your husband was away for COT and JAG school, how often were you allowed to see him?

When your spouse is at COT he is under several different restrictions. For example, he has to wear his uniform anywhere outside his dorm room, no cell phones except in his dorm room, and slowly receives privileges to go out on weekends etc. Even then it has to be within 120 mile radius from the base in Montgomery, AL. We never saw Top Gun once he left for COT b/c we were in California and it was too far. Families are not allowed to live on base during that time. You technically could rent a place nearby on your own but he would not be allowed to sleep there, even on weekends.

JASOC is a completely different story!! He isn't yelled at or given little freedoms like at COT. (The yelling isn't bad at COT either but it does happen!) On the contrary other than the duty day (the times he is in class), he can live off base and leave on weekends, as long as he reports back by 8:00p.m. Sunday evening. Again, we never saw Top Gun during JASCO b/c we were in California and in the middle of JASCO I moved myself and 3 girls to Texas. During JASCO there are a couple weekends where they travel to D.C. and Florida. If he chooses to live on "base housing" during JASCO, a spouse can live there too. It's a small studio, hotel like room with a kitchnette. But no children are "allowed" to live there but I think I've heard of someone coming for a weekend and they brought their baby with them and got away with it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clarification on Blog Title

The title Life of a JAG Wife should not be read into. Let me explain. When your spouse joins the military, he joins the military, not you, not your family, not your dog if you have one. You don't join literally speaking that is. You do in many other ways, which I'm sure I'll discuss eventually. When I first came to Texas some military wives told me there are women "out there" that "wear their husbands rank." Meaning they "literally" think of themselves as Lieutenants, Captains, Colonels, etc. and feel as though they should even be saluted by lower ranked individuals.

I am a wife, a mother, an individual separate from Top Gun. He is the attorney, not me. By having the title state "Life of a JAG Wife" may imply that I wear my husbands title or rank. Though, I do take pride in Top Gun's accomplishments and success as man, husband, father, attorney, I am in no way making a statement that being a JAG Wife is something I take pride in or feel special about. He is part of the JAG core, not I. But in my blog I will discuss the topics of cases he deals with, which is public knowledge. If you lived here you could walk into the court room and listen for yourselves. Don't worry I won't be breaking any rules :) I only wanted my blog title to capture readers interested in life as a military family and law in general.

Why this Blog

When I first tried to research what life as a military wife, and particularly as a JAG wife, would be like I couldn't find anything out there when I googled "Life as a JAG Wife." Creative I know. So this is my way of creating something for spouses whose husbands or wives are joinging the military and want some kind of information from a real person. We know how military recruiters can be. We want the truth. Not some glamorized story to get us to sign up.

Mainly though, this blog is first and foremost my outlet. Coming from zero military background, we came in clueless. I need a place to discuss and share our experiences. Ideally I'd love for this to become a discussion blog, have guest bloggers, and share others experiences too. This may take time, significant time. I might be out of the AF before that possibility unfolds. In any case this blog is for me. must not be easily offended to read my blog. I WILL say things you disagree with but I want to hear from you anyways. If you are my friend comment annoynomously. That is the joy of the blogging world. You need not be known to voice your opinions, questions, etc.


My family and I moved to Texas about 3 months ago from Berkeley California. My husband joined the Air Force as an attorney. We are stationed here for 2 years and then we'll be on our merry way to another location for another 2 years. We have 3 daughters.

As of now we are only committed for 4 years. But as time goes on we will figure this whole military thing out (ideally) and who knows where the road will take us. We could be in for 20 years or 4 years and no second longer!! I have always (always meaning the last year which is the time when my husband first mentioned the idea of the military as a profession) leaned toward 4 years and out but as our days in the service prolong, my husband leans toward 6-10 yrs. and to my surprise I feel indifferent for the time being.

From here on out I will refer to my husband as Top Gun, because who didn't love Tom Cruise in that movie. And no I'm not stupid I know he flew jets for the Navy in that movie but really it's all the same according to me.