Off Duty

Retired chief master sergeants dish on what it means to be a dual-military couple in the Air Force

Retired Chief Master Sgts. Robinson and Leenette Joseph know a thing or two about being a dual-military couple in the Air Force.

The Josephs, who met when Robinson was a technical sergeant and Leenette was a staff sergeant, were married more than 14 years ago and served together until Oct. 25, when they both retired.

Between the two, they served a total of 52 years in the Air Force, participating in 21 assignments and six deployments.

Although some dual-military couples may prioritize one one spouse’s career over another in order to make things work, that’s not the Josephs’ style.

“I know some couples get competitive,” Robinson said, according to an Air Force news release. “There’s no competition with your spouse. If my wife outranks me, cool. If I outrank my wife, cool. We still have that same name tape on the right. We pushed each other along and enjoyed each other’s success.”

For example, Robinson pointed to when Leenette won an instructor of the year award. Leenette, the former U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Equal Opportunity functional manager, likewise shared a proud moment when Robinson made chief.

“Just seeing his face when he made chief was priceless,” Leenette said.

Chief Master Sgts. Robinson and Leenette Joseph collectively served 52 years in the Air Force. (Screenshot from video by Staff Sgt. Kirsten Brandes/Air Force)
Chief Master Sgts. Robinson and Leenette Joseph collectively served 52 years in the Air Force. (Screenshot from video by Staff Sgt. Kirsten Brandes/Air Force)

Robinson, the former U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa chief enlisted manager for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, also stressed the importance of having one another to rely on during their careers in the service.

“You gotta have support,” Robinson said. “I get a chance to go home and hash out ideas with another chief. When I bring it back to the unit, the ideas are that much better.”

The biggest struggle the Josephs encountered as a dual-military couple was undergoing deployments at the same time, which meant their three children would stay with family members.

“There have been many times when we felt like single parents because one of us was gone,” Leenette said. “I think the most challenging time was when both of us got deployed at the same time.”

Overall, Leenette said she would advise other dual-military families to know that they can’t be a perfect spouse, parent, and airman all at once.

“You’re never going to be perfect at all three things at the same time,” Leenette said. “I say do the best you can with the resources you have, and things will work themselves out. Just take care of yourself.”

Chief Master Sgt. Robinson Joseph, former U.S. Air Forces in Europe–Air Forces Africa chief enlisted manager for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, and his wife, Chief Master Sgt. Leenette Joseph, former USAFE Equal Opportunity functional manager, retired together at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 25. (Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker/Air Force)
Chief Master Sgt. Robinson Joseph, former U.S. Air Forces in Europe–Air Forces Africa chief enlisted manager for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, and his wife, Chief Master Sgt. Leenette Joseph, former USAFE Equal Opportunity functional manager, retired together at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 25. (Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker/Air Force)

The Department of Defense reported in 2016 that 12 percent of military spouses are also active-duty military, according to a 2018 White House report on military spouses in the labor market.

The report also found its not uncommon for married women serving in the military to also be married to another service member. Nearly half of all active-duty women who are married are in dual-military marriages.

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