Reversing roles: military spouse to military member

Airman 1st Class Mariette M. Adams, a photojournalist with the 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs office, transitioned from an Air Force spouse to an active-duty member on Dec. 29, 2014. Adams’ transition gave her insight into the daily responsibilities of an Airman that she could not grasp as a spouse. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell)

Airman 1st Class Mariette M. Adams, a photojournalist with the 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs office, transitioned from an Air Force spouse to an active-duty member on Dec. 29, 2014. Adams’ transition gave her insight into the daily responsibilities of an Airman that she could not grasp as a spouse. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "It's only two months, I'll be fine. It's such a short time, no need to cry," I kept telling myself over and over again.

I put on a brave face and kept my emotions in check as I gave my fiancé, Landon, one last hug and kiss before he went through airport security to fly out to Air Force basic military training (BMT).

That strong face melted away the very moment I was alone.

All at once the bottled up emotions came spouting out, it was as though someone had punched me, and I couldn't breathe. Gut-wrenching anxiety hit me like a train; paralyzing tears streamed down my face.

I was scared; scared of the unknown, scared of the future and most of all, I was scared that Landon wouldn't be himself after.

The next two months felt like going to hell and back. I had never felt so alone in my life.

Although I had my family and friends, I still felt more alone than ever. I was uncertain about how life would be when Landon came home. All the while I was planning our wedding, I was at a loss.

We both lived by the same motto, "Sunday to Sunday." As we wrote letters back and forth, we counted the days and even down to the seconds till we would be together again.

Eventually, graduation time came and for the first time in eight-and-a-half weeks, I could breathe. I finally felt at ease. All my fears were laid to rest when I saw him and that's when I knew everything would be OK.

Landon continued on to technical training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It became another hurdle for us to conquer. On Dec. 22, 2013, while he was home on Christmas break, we married, and I found myself in a new role; that of a military spouse.

I was uprooted from the only place I knew and called home, Traverse City, Michigan, and started a new home at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

New to the military lifestyle, I knew nothing about the Air Force, Air Mobility Command (AMC) or 6th Air Mobility Wing.  I didn't understand the meaning of unmatched installation support, what the fueling mission was or even what KC-135 Stratotankers do.

The change was challenging at first; change has always been difficult for me.

At the age of 19, I found myself lost; like a small fish in a big ocean, trying to find purpose. I put my education on hold as we moved and settled into Tampa life. 

Even with all the chaos from everything, I was able to find a routine. Landon became busy with a new work schedule and upgrade training, while I found a part-time job. I found myself in a supportive role and tried my best to make sure everything at home was taken care of.

As life began to settle, I was still confused by how the military worked and the terminology of things.

This all changed in May of 2014 when I took an oath to protect and serve this great country.

During the next seven months, I participated in the delayed entry program and waited for my job and leave date. I went back to school and finished my associate's degree.

Exactly one year, four months, and five days later on Dec. 29, 2014, at the age of 20, it was my turn to kiss my husband goodbye and leave for BMT.

The roles then reversed.

I was the one who had to board a plane and leave. My stomach was in knots.

However, this time I felt stronger because I felt as though I needed to be for Landon, like he was for me. So I held back my tears and put on a brave face again.

As I progressed through BMT, I felt a weird sense of déjà vu.

I was connecting what I was experiencing in BMT to how I felt when Landon went through and the memories he shared with me from his experience. I now understood the past memories that once confused me.

Basic military training challenged me both mentally and physically. The motto "Sunday to Sunday" now held a new meaning to me.

When I graduated from basic training, I felt a new sense of pride. Instead of watching from the sidelines, I had earned the right to wear the Air Force uniform and carry my Airman's coin.

After basic training, I transitioned into technical training at Fort Meade, Maryland, and eventually had the opportunity to return to MacDill with Landon.

I took on a new role; the role of an American Airman.

Over the next few months, I started upgrade training and transitioned into my own career field.

As I look back on the last 14 months in the military, I have found strength and surprised myself. I have learned to adapt to change and embrace it. I gained pride as I found my sense of purpose and slowly find my voice.

As I look forward to my next three years, I want to continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone, like I did when I decided to join.

Although I joined for personal growth and financial stability, now it has become more than that. I am proud to be an Airman and live by the oath I took to serve and protect this country.

In a matter of two and a half years, the military has taken me down a unique path for which I am thankful to experience, serving as both a military spouse and an Airman.

I now understand what it means to be an Airman in the Air Force and more specifically in AMC. I am able to be a part of something greater than just one person. As a team, we enable the United States with the ability to respond with might or mercy anywhere on earth in a matter of hours. Without the individual Airmen, the mission would not be possible.