RICHMOND, Va. — The challenges of being a dual-military couple are balanced by the benefits. On one hand, couples share the experience of military service, which can be a foundation for strength for many. On the other hand, these couples face the challenge of juggling two military careers with the demands of family life.
Staff Sgt. Sara Robichaud and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Robichaud, both serve in the Virginia Army National Guard. They’ve been married for 10 years and serving their country for even longer.
Staff Sgt. Robichaud works as a recruiter for the Virginia Army National Guard, while her husband is assigned to the 29th Infantry Division as a telecommunications operations chief. The demands of their service mean every few months one or the other is leaving for some sort of military training, school or other obligation.
“The biggest difficulty we face as a dual military couple is trying to balance our family life with our military inconsistencies,” Staff Sgt. Robichaud said. “Both of our families are from Michigan, yet we reside in Virginia. That in itself is a challenge as we don’t have the easiest support system when it comes to childcare.”
The Robichaud’s have three daughters between the ages of five and nine years old. Their middle child has high-functioning autism, so the family relies on sitters to fill in the childcare holes.
“I don’t think our families entirely understand what we endure, as we are the only ones that currently serve,” Staff Sgt. Robichaud said. “Our kids are really strong because they don’t mind when we’re on orders, just as long as we are there for the important dates in their lives. They love knowing that we’re helping others.”
The Robichaud’s define themselves as a patriotic household and try to inspire their children to be grateful for those who serve.
“We explain our nation’s history so they understand our roles as service members and our roles as citizens,” Staff Sgt. Robichaud said. “I am hoping they, too, will join to serve their country. How they choose to go about it – we’ll guide them the best that we can.”
Despite the struggles and separation caused by deployments and other military obligations, Staff Sgt. Robichaud says joining the military was one of the best life choices she’s ever made. She says their family has benefited from serving in the National Guard in multiple ways.
“With the money from initial entry training, we were able to purchase our first house,” said Staff Sgt. Robichaud. “My husband and I were also both able to have our bachelor’s degrees paid for. He earned the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and I combined my federal and state benefits.”
In addition to monetary benefits, the Robichauds have enjoyed training opportunities the military has given them, as well as the people they have met and served with over the years, to include each other.
“We met while serving in our military police unit 11 years ago,” Staff Sgt. Robichaud said. “I’d say that was the biggest perk to date.”
Staff Sgt. Robichaud plans to continue her education and is working to become a dentist. Once she achieves that goal, she says she plans to continue her service in the National Guard as a dentist.
“There really isn’t anywhere else you can go that will pay to teach you the very viable skills that the military offers, let alone the opportunity to experience true comradery with those beside you,” Staff Sgt. Robichaud said. “I would do it all over again.”