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Breaking the Mold

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – What’s a military spouse? The term is used very loosely in conversation but when asked, it is perceived with a very general portrayal.
“A ‘typical’ military spouse is a woman that is generally a stay-at-home mother in order to support her husband due to the nature of his career field,” said Toccara Jacobs, a San Antonio, Texas, native and a test score technician at the Military Entrance Processing Station, MEPS, in Seattle.
“A woman married to a man in the military that supports her husband no matter what, and understands the sacrifices she must make because of this career field”, said Jasmine Jones, a Columbus, Ohio, native and a former military spouse.
“Most military spouses are strong women that take care of the home front, and some are students in school finishing up their college degrees,” said Army Spc. Samuel Barry, a Fredericksburg Va. Native and satellite communications systems operator and maintainer, Company C, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps.
The term military spouse has a very strong stigma attached to it. Most people equate a military spouse as being a stay at home mother, while that’s still a very demanding job to take on, it’s not necessarily true for all or even most military spouses nowadays.
Christiana Harrell is a military spouse that is breaking the mold to the stereotypical roles that have been established throughout history. The three time best selling author has been paving her way into the literary scene from the tender age of six when she wrote her very first fiction story ”The Talking Pumpkin.”
In first grade, Harrell was tasked with the assignment to write a fiction story, so she decided to write about a house in her neighborhood that was rumored by the neighborhood kids to be haunted.
“I let my imagination take wind, and low and behold, I found that writing was something I loved,” said Harrell.
Harrell has proceeded to write 10 published books starting with her first book “Girl” in 2009, a collection of short stories. She also writes under the pseudonym Lee Miller, which is the name of her great aunt, who is her oldest living relative.
“I wrote under her name because at that time African American woman didn’t have many opportunities to make a name for their selves,” said Harrell as a smile swept across her face. “I just wanted to leave her something behind and give her name meaning so I wrote a book, ‘Almost Impossible’ by Lee Miller.”
Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, Harrell characterized her writing as a passion and means of escaping life thru expression, but never realized that her books would reach people across the entire country nevertheless the world.
“I began reading books by her [Harrell] while I was in Afghanistan, said Sgt. Patricia Parish, a Dumfries, Virginia, native and radio operator and maintainer with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 31st Air Defense Artillery brigade. “They were a distraction for me when I was over there, a constant feed for my appetite to read.”
Harrell, noticeably modest about her accomplishments, went on to be nominated for the 26th Lambda Literary awards for her book “Cream” in 2014.
“I was supposed to go to New York for the nomination but I chose to go to my best friend’s graduation because that only happens once,” said Harrell in the most humbling manner. “I was just so excited that I was nominated for an award, but friends and family come first.”
Today Harrell in still writing and will soon come out with another book to add to her collection, but she is also adjusting to her life as a military spouse.
“Being married to someone in the Army has given me the chance to move around and see new things,” said Harrell. “I like to incorporate those things in my writing, but it’s also hard leaving things that I am familiar and comfortable with behind.”
The title Army spouse comes with a stigma attached to it, but this stigma has changed dramatically throughout the years. Army spouses are no longer just women standing behind the scenes supporting their husbands. In fact, in many cases, the gender roles have completely switched and the husbands are the stay at home dads while the wife goes on to work as the Soldier in the battlefield, and in Harrell’s case things are also a little different.
“I am proud to have Tiana [Christiana] as my wife,” said Parrish “She supports me in my career and I support her in hers. As individuals, I am the Soldier and she is the author, but together we are a [same-sex] married couple; a powerful force; we break the mold!”
A military spouse can hold different meaning to different people, and Harrell went on to express her views as well.
“They can be anything,” said Harrell. “People tend to forget about the people behind the scenes in the military, but we are just as important. From housewife to author, we all have careers, but not only that, we have to be understanding and have patience in this lifestyle. Because whether you are a woman married to man in the military, vise versa or even in a same sex marriage, to be a military spouse takes a strong person that loves his or her Soldier. I know I love mine!”

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