Celebrating military-spouse fathers

Base Info
John Hutson and his family.
John Hutson and his family.

Celebrating military-spouse fathers

by: . | .
Stripes Guam | .
published: June 11, 2013

According to a 2011 University of Maryland Center for Research on Military Organization study, 6.9 percent of all U.S. military spouses are men (2.1 percent Marines, 6.3 percent Army, 7.3 percent Navy and 10 percent Air Force) – many of which are dads. That makes Father’s Day an ideal opportunity to honor these military-spouse dads. As a way of saying “happy Father’s Day,” we asked some to share their insights.

John Hutson

John Hutson is retired Army and a military-spouse dad at Camp Zama, Japan, whose wife is Col. Vivian Hutson. Their son Bill is 11.

Q: As a civilian military-spouse dad, how would you describe your role in the military? 
A: As the spouse of a senior officer, I often meet with other senior spouses to share information and with other family members of my wife’s organization to see if they are having any issues.  Sometimes people will give me information that they would like passed on to my wife.

Q: When did you realize how atypical your role as a military-spouse dad was, or would be, and what was your initial reaction? 
A: I have always known that I am not what most people expect when they are meeting a “military spouse,” but that has never bothered me. Sometimes it is a little amusing to watch people adjust their perspective, but I’ve never received any negative reactions.

Q: What’s your typical day like as a military-spouse dad? 
A: I work, but I am able to get my son ready for school and onto the school bus before I leave for the office. Until recently, he would go to the post’s School Age Care before and after school.  My wife and I share responsibilities for our son and around the house, but I know that her work will often take her away from home or keep her in the office until late. We adjust accordingly.

Q: What are the highs and lows of being a male military spouse? 
A: I think they are the same as for any military spouse. The greatest thing is how proud I am of my wife and of the work she does. I also like that her career keeps me connected to the military community. The difficulties come from separations and the disruptions caused by moves.

Q: How do you deal with long-term deployments that your spouse goes on?
A: Good friends and neighbors help a lot. And, my wife and I make a real effort to stay in touch as often as possible through email and, now, Skype.

Q: How did (does) being a military-spouse dad affect your career/job prior to becoming one? 
A: Since retiring from the Army, I have been lucky to find work in my career area where she was assigned to. However, it can take a while before starting a new job.

Q: What kinds of connections do you have with other military spouses in the on-base community and what, if anything, would you like to change?
A: I have always been welcomed by the female spouses to participate in their organizations and activities as much as I want. There are also ways to connect with other men, including male spouses, such as through youth sports and chapel groups.

Q: What is your fondest memory related to being a military spouse? 
A: I think the opportunity to live in Japan will be one of my fondest memories.

Q: What do you think is the key to being a successful military spouse and why? 
A: The military spouse’s motto should be “semper Gumby” – always be flexible.

Q: What advice would you offer to other military-spouse dads?
A: I would advise them to be a part of the community that they are in and to remember that military careers don’t last that long – they should enjoy the time while they can.

Jesus Kilgore

Jesus Kilgore is a military-spouse dad at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, whose wife is Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisandra Kilgore. They are the parents of Jesus, 17; Jazmine, 14; Noreny, 13; and Kaylee, 8.

Q: As a civilian military-spouse dad, how would you describe your role in the military?
A: My role is to support my wife and to take care of the family while she is away.

Q: When did you realize how A-typical your role as a military-spouse dad was, or would be, and what was your initial reaction?
A: I am prior military, and had an idea about women serving our country with civilian spouses, therefore it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Q: What’s your typical day like as a military-spouse dad?
A: Wake up about 0500, get the girls up, and ready for school, drop-off my wife, and then my youngest daughter to Shirley Lanham Elementary where I am the 2012-13 PTO president. Therefore, I have to check my PTO emails, mailbox, requests, etc. Pick up my wife for lunch, take her back. Pick up my youngest from school, help her with her homework while cooking dinner. Then pick up my wife from work. (Then go) home to try to relax, but there is always something to do.

Q: What are the highs and lows of being a male military spouse?
A: (The highs are) the traveling to different places around the world, and the benefits we get to enjoy as a family. (The lows are) the stress we go through when my wife is deployed, or away from home and our family. Not having your immediate family there to help, and having to rely on people you just met that later become like part of the family.

Q: How do you deal with long-term deployments that your spouse goes on?
A: By keeping myself and the girls busy with sports, coaching, and volunteering throughout the community.

Q: How did (does) being a military-spouse dad affect your career/job prior to becoming one?
A: It affects your career in not being able to keep the same job for more than three years at a time.

Q: What kinds of connections do you have with other military spouses in the on-base community and what, if anything, would you like to change?
A: I am a member of the Atsugi Enlisted Spouse Association (AESA), I was the 2012-13 ombudsman for VFA-195, and the 2012-13 PTO president for Shirley Lanham Elementary. I wouldn’t change a thing because I have had a wonderful experience with each and every one of them. Most of the other military spouses are now great longtime friends, and (part of) a great support system.    

Q: To date, what is your fondest memory related to being a military spouse?
A: The Homecomings after a long deployment, is like falling in love again when I see my wife getting off the ship. Those moments to me are very special.

Q: What do you think is the key to being a successful military spouse and why?
A: Getting involved with the community, coaching, AESA, and volunteering. I do and it makes the time go faster when she is deployed.

Q: What advice would you offer to other military-spouse dads?     
A: Like I mentioned before, NAF Atsugi has a great support system, use it. Get involved, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

James Nilo

James Nilo is a military-spouse dad on Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, whose wife is Petty Officer 1st Class Annaliza O. Nilo. Their son Jason is 9 and their daughter Jasmine is 7.

Q: As a civilian military-spouse dad, how would you describe your role in the military?
A: To support my military wife in her career, keep the family together during deployments, and to raise awareness about male military spouses and their unique needs and sacrifices.

Q: When did you realize how A-typical your role as a military-spouse dad was, or would be, and what was your initial reaction?
A: When I first left my job in Dallas, Texas to follow my wife on her first duty station in San Diego. I realized that my own career will only be second to my wife’s and I may not be able to sustain and keep a job for as long as my wife is in the military due to constant move every three years or so. I love my wife so much, so this is one reality I have easily accepted though it is still a little bit difficult to adjust to every PCS season.

Q: What’s your typical day like as a military-spouse dad?
A: I am taking online classes for my second master’s degree, so I am up most of the nights. Mornings are spent preparing my kids for school and sending my wife to work before I catch a few hours of sleep. Then, afternoons are for kids’ extra-curricular activities, helping them with their homework, working out, and making dinner. As soon as my family goes to bed, I go back to my online studies and the cycle goes on.

Q: What are the highs and lows of being a male military spouse?
A: One of the highs is knowing that my wife is making a difference, and I am taking the pride in her sacrifices for our freedom. A couple of the lows are the difficulty finding a job every PCS move and the military’s lack of support programs specifically for male military spouses.

Q: How do you deal with long-term deployments that your spouse goes on?
A: Keep the family busy all the time. We hold memberships to theme parks and museums, so I always make sure that our kids are having fun to take their minds away from missing their mom so much. We always go out to the movies or to the beach. I also blog as a form of emotional and intellectual outlet.

Q: How did (does) being a military-spouse dad affect your career/job prior to becoming one?
A: I have never had a job that last longer than three years since I married my wife. With the government sequestration, the local base has stopped hiring for a long time now. This is really difficult, but I make sure I am in school every time I am in between jobs. I am entering a doctoral program this fall.

Q: What kinds of connections do you have with other military spouses in the on-base community and what, if anything, would you like to change?
A: I hope the local base has a support group specifically for male military spouses and partners because they have their distinct needs and challenges compared to our female counterparts. I usually use the blog form to raise awareness to this. I am thankful to Military One Source for featuring some of my blogs.

Q: To date, what is your fondest memory related to being a military spouse?
A: Every time my wife gets advanced or receives a commendation, I cherish that moment and take joy in her accomplishments.

Q: What do you think is the key to being a successful military spouse and why?
A: A lot of understanding, patience, and flexibility.

Q: What advice would you offer to other military-spouse dads?
A: You are not alone. As a military spouse-dad myself, I am thankful and proud for all the sacrifices of the male military spouses out there. Take good care of yourselves, too, by going to school, honing your skills and learning new things. It is also important to have your own support group (of friends and families) to help you especially during deployments.

Eddie Vargas

Eddie Vargas is a retired Marine and a military-spouse dad at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, whose wife, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Sarah C. Vargas, works at Camp Foster. They are the parents of Quinten, 8; Margaret, 6; and Gavin, 2.

Q: As a civilian military-spouse dad, how would you describe your role in the military? 
A: I provide the stability and support that any spouse in my position should. I understand some of the stresses my spouse endures while in the military and sometimes offer my advice on how she should handle certain situations. In most cases, the military member just wants to speak their mind and be understood. I try my best to provide such support for my wife.

Q: When did you realize how A-typical your role as a military-spouse dad was and what was your initial reaction?  
A: I realized it was irregular when I had begun to set up my children’s doctor’s appointments. Although my wife accompanied me at times to the appointments it wasn’t until she couldn’t make them that it kind of threw me for a loop. It’s different now that I’m used to doing it, but in the beginning it felt stressful. 

Q: What’s your typical day like as a military-spouse dad? 
A: I wake up at 0630, and if my wife is home we chat before she leaves. This isn’t usual though because most of the week she’s gone by 0530. I wake my kids up at 0700 to get them ready for school and make them breakfast and their lunch at 0720. By 0745 I have them wash their face, brush their teeth and comb and brush their hair. We’re out the door by 0805 to be dropped off at school if we’re driving. When we walk, the usual time to depart has to be at 0755. 

After me and my youngest arrive home we usually eat breakfast and watch a cartoon or two.  Most of the time with him is spent trying to have him learn his alphabets and numbers. If he feels that he’s had enough, I usually have him play with his toys while I catch up on reading the news on-line or updates on topics I favor.  He goes down for a nap at 1145 until 1345 when I wake him up for lunch.

We also get ready to go pick up his siblings at 1415. We arrive home between 1445 and 1500 – from then we start on homework and reading. When they are done with doing that they can either go play outside or watch a couple of shows before their mother gets home.  I start dinner at 1730-1800 and my wife usually arrives in between that time to help out with dinner or take over. We eat dinner at about 1830 and by 1900 we try to have the kids showered and ready for bed by 2000 or 2030 at the latest.

After we put the children to bed is the time me and my wife spend together either talking or watching a TV show together relaxing. By 2130 I get ready to go to the gym and am out the door by 2200 to weight train. I get home a little pass 2315 and am in bed by 2345. Yeah, this is my usual day or has been since living on Okinawa.”

Q: What are the highs and lows of being a male military spouse? 
A: The highs are seeing your children every day, knowing you’re providing the stability and support needed for them to be raised.  The lows, I don’t think there are any lows that any other military spouse or spouse endures that are different. But most of it consists of how much stress you put on yourself. I try not to stress but when it happens I usually make sure I go weight train that evening.

Q: How do you deal with long-term deployments that your spouse goes on? 
A: I make sure that I don’t stress out too much and try to deal with it by counting down the weeks instead of the days. It’s easier when the children are in school because it keeps everyone busy. I understand what her role is in the military and that we all have to make sacrifices.

Q: How did (does) being a military-spouse dad affect your career/job prior to becoming one?  
A: It’s made me more determined to accomplish my goals in life. This is something I want my children to understand and appreciate when they’ve become adults. I graduated college in a timely manner without having to give up time with my family. They’ve pushed me to become a better person, man and father.

Q: What kinds of connections do you have with other military spouses in the on-base community and what, if anything, would you like to change? 
A: I don’t have any connections with the on-base community, so I wouldn’t know what to change. 

Q: To date, what is your fondest memory related to being a military spouse? 
A: Having both my children’s teachers give me great reports of how they are doing in school.  Another fond memory would be when my kids all ran towards their mother after her deployment. It was the greatest feeling in the world to see them so happy.

Q: What do you think is the key to being a successful military spouse and why? 
A: The key to being a successful military spouse would have to definitely be communication, support and understanding the military member. All three of these helps the family as a whole and also individually. 

Q: What advice would you offer to other military-spouse dads? 
A: Communicate with everyone in your family, when you feel stressed, bench press and, last but not least, make sure that you are the person your children want to imitate. Your family represents you and how well you do with them so make sure you are doing your best.

Tags:
Related Content: What does it take to be a successful military dad?