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Dual military spouses: a challenge in itself 
 
Elijah and April Mota 

BAGHDAD – Staff Sgt. April Mota and her husband Spc. Elijah Mota, Manchester, N.H., is one of 5 couples in the 101st Engineer Battalion who are dual military, meaning both spouses serve.  The Motas are deployed together on their first tour and are stationed at Camp Liberty. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy Knowles, 101st Engineer Battalion)

By Sgt. Tracy Knowles, 101st Engineer Battalion 

BAGHDAD
– Planning who will pick up the kids after a Karate practice when both parents are working late can be stressful on any family; planning for a deployment while your spouse is already deployed becomes a whole other story.

Capt. Sean Keegan and his wife, Maj. Kathleen Keegan, are facing these challenges right now.

Both serve in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, but that’s where the similarity ends. Sean serves with 101st Engineer Battalion in Iraq. Kathleen serves with Joint Force Headquarters in Milford, Mass., and is preparing for a deployment in Afghanistan.

The couple met in a fighting position in 1991 during a two-week annual training with 26th Division Support Command.

A simulated attack erupted at 2 a.m. Sean grabbed his weapon and protective mask, ran to his fighting position and started returning fire. Soon after, Kathleen jumped in, shot a couple of rounds and started to leave. When asked where she was going, she stated that she had grabbed her makeup bag instead of her protective mask and would be right back.

“I was dumbfounded, I knew right there I needed to get to know this girl,” said Sean.

The two have been married for 16 years and have two children; Cole, 12, and Quinn, 10. One of the issues they are working through is how best to care for the children during this stressful time of flux.

Sean said communication and compromise must be a part of the equation. In this case, Sean will become the primary caregiver when he returns home so Kathleen can focus on her duties as an officer.

Though these stresses for dual military couples can be great, Sean said the rewards can be even greater and suggests couples should not feel like one should have to leave the service.

“I’m all for it,” Sean said. “If both feel that desire to serve, they should, but [they should] also go in it with eyes wide open.” 

Staff Sgt. April Mota, 101st Engineer Battalion, understands the challenges and rewards of being a dual-military couple. She is currently deployed to Iraq with her husband, Spc. Elijah Mota.

“The military is a whole different lifestyle which most people don’t understand,” said Mota. “We understand each other, we know where each other is coming from, understanding the reasons we do what we do.”

The Keegans and the Motas, like so many dual military couples, use their strengths as Soldiers to overcome hardships, having to adapt to ever-changing schedules.  

One bit of advice has helped Sean over the years: “Try not to be selfish,” he said. “Remember, your spouse is not only doing their job, but also doing yours.”

1/25/2010