Soldier Loses His Life Saving To Keep Up To His 1st Wife Expenses.
Back in the early 1980’s, I spent 6 years in the US Navy. In 1986 I was recruited to go into the US Army through a program for technical and intelligence experienced military personnel to become Warrant Officers. All the Navy offered me was sea duty and more sea duty. It looked like a real good deal.
I was engaged to a young lady three years my junior and had a bit more than $20,000 in savings. Everything looked promising with a new career and family life. The wedding went off without a hitch. I was looking at a vacation of about 3 months between exiting the Navy and entering training for the Army.
It was when my recruiter contacted me over my security clearance that things went south. My credit report did not match my questionnaire. There was three credit cards with a $14,000 balance I didn’t mention. It was no big deal, they weren’t delinquent, but I needed to amend my answers to account for them.
Turns out my wife had opened up a charge card at our bank, then got a couple of store cards around town. She had purchased some serious clothes and jewelry, but the real kicker was she had bought a horse. She had taken lessons as a child and decided this was going to be her new thing. There was the price of the animal, riding gear, saddle and tack, vet bills, stable fees, yadda yadda yadda. I ended up dumping a big chunk of my savings into paying down these cards, then amending my questionnaire responses.
She was from a very blue collar family. They were very good people who worked hard for everything they had. But I don’t think, credit ratings and compounded interest rates were much discussed at the dinner table. So I explained about credit cards, the huge interest rate, how long it would take to pay one down, then about security clearances and having a huge debt with no job would affect it.
I treated this all as a bump in our relationship, but thing got dark really fast. My ship date was coming up and things had to be done before I started training. I was in good physical shape, but I was facing Boot camp, AIT, Airborne school, ranger school, warrant officer selection and advance training… basically 18 months of utter insanity. I was prepared for what I faced, but there was a lot that could go wrong. If I got through it, I was a Warrant Officer. But if I dropped the ball along the way, I would not only be enlisted, but junior enlisted in a job they would decide for me. In theory, I could end up a line cook in some chow hall at Camp NoWhere.
About a week later, the phone rings. It’s about the horse. No one was taking care of the animal or cleaning the stable, or even feeding the poor thing. The stable had covered down for the sake of the animal, but now were charging $350 a week for the extra services my wife was supposed to be doing. She was leaving our apartment every day, and I assumed it was for riding and care of the animal, and for the first week she was. The second week, she was lawyer shopping. She wanted out. She must have gotten wind of what happened at the stable and didn’t come home that night. The next day I got served with papers.
Total marriage time; 47 days.
So I ended up with an apartment with four months on the lease, no car and a horse. I found a new home for the horse. I had to defer my ship date and it took 14 months to settle the divorce. My security clearance was approved two days after the papers were filed. I shipped the next day.
In the end, I had two pair of pants, three shirts and a pair of shoe that had no business on anyones feet. I was working 2 minimum wage jobs, 14 hours a day, paying down debt, lawyers fees, rent and sometimes eating to get by.
I ended up at Fort Sill, Oklahoma mowing lawns for two months as I shipped without a training slot for boot camp. I wasn’t happy, but I was relieved.
In Airborne school, I met a ROTC cadet who was going to Airborne school over her summer break. She had a year to go before her commission and we hit it off. We’d get together on holidays, between training, long weekends. When I finished training and got my warrant, still a cadet, she flew across the country to give me my first salute. I gave her a silver dollar as per tradition. Two months later, she received her commission, to which I saluted her, and returned the silver dollar. Married that Christmas.
We’ve been together 31 years.