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Mission: Family: Spouses could benefit from Army wives' advice book

Jan. 17, 2013 - 05:15PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2013 - 05:15PM  |  
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Whether you're a seasoned military spouse or a newbie, you should check out the latest installment of the "Now You Tell Me!" book series: "12 Army Wives Give the Best Advice They Never Got."

It's really 13 wives, because Beth Chiarelli provides personal insights in an 18-page prologue. She lived the military life for more than 40 years before her husband, former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, retired about a year ago.

And if you're of the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard persuasion and think these insights are service-specific … well, you should know better. So many aspects of a military spouse's life — moving, career maintenance, deployments, all while nurturing children — are so similar across the services.

The 196-page book has insights from wives of enlisted members and officers, including the National Guard and reserves.

For example, Chiarelli changed her perspective on unpacking the kitchen first after a move, which most people do.

"After about 10 years, I started doing my bedroom first, because every day you wake up and it's nice. You don't feel so defeated when you wake up," she writes.

Some wives' personal experiences provide insight and tips for dual-career families, parents of soldiers, blended families and families of the wounded.

Nancy Negron, a former Army officer, writes about what helped her cope with the loss of her husband, 1st Lt. Carlos Diaz Santiago, in Iraq.

Danielle Shell, whose husband, Capt. Alvin Shell, was seriously injured in Iraq in 2004, provides tips for being prepared in case of an emergency, and organizing before, during and after a move.

She offers other advice for couples' general well-being: "Nothing is worse than telling too much personal information about your husband to the people with whom he works." Also: "You have to be OK with being a single parent when necessary and not blame your husband for it."

Some of the other nuggets that may strike home:

• "Through all these deployments, I've learned that you can choose to be miserable or be happy." — Frances Sasser, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Sasser Jr.

• "The biggest mistake I made was putting everyone else's needs before mine." — Sasser again.

• "Don't over-identify with what your husband is doing. Let him do his thing and you do yours." — Beth Chiarelli.

And a classic military summation:

• "In the Army, everything is subject to change without notice." — Becky Apel, wife of 1st Sgt. Rob Apel.

"12 Army Wives Give the Best Advice They Never Got" is written by Sheridan Scott, B.K. Sherer and Donna Lyons. It was published in November by Arundel Publishing and retails for $15.95.

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