Veterans Day: A family's point of view
This is the story of service, love and family, from Erich and Hurley’s point of view — Erich is in the United States Army and they have a little girl. Veterans Day is meaningful for all Americans, but none know the true meaning like a military family.
Military life is nothing new for Hurley, the mother of a little girl nicknamed Turtle — she grew up in a military family and her husband is in the Army. This Veterans Day takes on extra meaning for her and her family, as they share a little bit of their life with us.
A love story
SK: How did you meet Erich?
Hurley: We met through a mutual friend and we barely talked at first, but then our friend died and we only had each other to talk to about it. Eventually we had gotten to know each other really well and we just never really left each other.
SK: What was your wedding like?
Hurley: Fast, very fast. We had all of two hours to go to the courthouse because it was the day he graduated boot camp and he had to go back to formation after that two hours was up. We managed to get married and have dinner. Then I didn't see him for four months. This was also the day he first met and held our daughter. She was five weeks old.
SK: How did you and Erich react when you found out you were expecting?
Hurley: Scared. We had a miscarriage a few months before so we were walking on eggshells the first trimester. It wasn't until we found out the sex that he got attached.
SK: How did it change your lives — besides the hopes, dreams and planning a new baby entails?
Hurley: We knew it was time to get a better income, one that wouldn’t have us living paycheck to paycheck. He signed up for the army, and once we got stationed and we were back together, it was all so easy. We have definitely grown up. No more super late nights or going out a ton. I quit smoking and he got way more responsible.
SK: When did Erich sign up for the military?
Hurley: I think it was about August 2009, and then he left in January 2010, a month before Annaliese was born.
SK: What were his reasons?
Hurley: To have a better income, a definite place to live and to allow us to be self-sufficient and not rely on family helping us.
SK: How did you feel about it?
Hurley: I was happy, I grew up in a military family so it wasn’t anything new. I was glad we were going to be able to see the world a little bit and have that dependable income.
SK: Tell us about the process Erich went through to become a soldier?
Hurley: He went to boot camp first. That was two and a half months, then he went off to AIT, which is like job training for four months. Then he got a two-week break at home with me before we moved to his first duty station in Alaska.
SK: How well did you deal with it?
Hurley: It was harder while he was in boot camp because the only way we could communicate was letters and I didn’t exactly have all the time in the world to sit and write a letter with a newborn baby. And him missing the birth of her to begin with was hard. All I wanted was for him to be there encouraging me through labor, and helping me with the new baby. I did everything on my own.
When he deployed I started sewing to pass the time. It helped a lot to have something to work toward. And it also was better than going out and getting a part-time job because I could still spend all day with Annaliese.
Along comes a Turtle
SK: Tell us about your pregnancy and birth?
Hurley: I had a high-risk pregnancy so we were always so worried. I went to the doctor more and had more tests than normal. I did kick counts religiously for fear that one day she wouldn’t move anymore. The labor was long and drawn out. Not how I had planned it to be because I was induced and I would have preferred her to come on her own — then I was in labor for two days.
They broke my water on day two and I was minutes away from a C-section by the time I was ready to push. My mom and Erich's stepmom were with me, holding my hands. Erich found that Annaliese was born two days later. I had to put in a Red Cross message just so he could call me for 30 minutes.
SK: What kinds of challenges have you faced as a military family?
Hurley: Being apart is the No. 1 challenge. I would say the second would be how difficult it is to travel or see family while living so far away. Plane tickets are outrageous so we only get to travel maybe once a year.
SK: What strategies or tools have you used to make it through the hard times?
Hurley: Skype! It was the only way we could talk while he was deployed. We have money saving strategies so we can afford those crazy plane tickets and if bills are higher (like in the winter).
SK: What does Veterans Day mean to you?
Hurley: It's a day to honor all the military service members, past and present, that have fought for their country. They made a huge sacrifice and they deserve to have a day where everyone respects that.
SK: What are you most thankful for this year as Veterans Day rolls around?
Hurley: My husband and my family. He made it home from Afghanistan and is home with me and Annaliese. I'm incredibly thankful for that.