The Unsung Hero - the male military spouse
FORT STEWART -- The quintessential Army spouse is female and, according to the Army Wife's Creed, is charged with upholding certain standards for her husband, yet, in one particular Army household, the roles are reversed.
This role reversal sometimes leaves Family Member and Army husband, Jajonelle Dejarnette, a recreational aid and CrossFit guru at Fort Stewart's Jordan Gym, in flux.
Jajonelle's wife, Sgt. Gina Dejarnette, with 2-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, who he describes as a "brainiac," is currently serving in Afghanistan on her first tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He said Stewart is a far cry from his home town of Colorado Springs, Colo., but as a self-described military child, he acclimates easily.
As a husband and wife team for the past 12 years, the Dejarnettes have spent the last three in the military.
Jajonelle proudly explained the depth of him and his wife's love and commitment to one another.
"If I had to say one thing about my wife is her unwavering unconditional ability to love me for me," he said. "She has never shaken from that. She has always been faithful to me; that's what I ask for is loyalty above all other things in our relationship, and she has provided it to me for 12 years."
But, as a male Army spouse, Jajonelle feels as if something is missing.
"I haven't seen one newsletter or one flyer come out that was specifically for men spouses," he said. "I guess we are all expected to grit and bite our lips and go through it just like anybody else would. But that doesn't mean that men don't like to get together. That doesn't mean that men should be a forgotten demographic."
As a member of his Family Readiness Group, Jajonelle said he is informed of the many events that the FRG is involved in throughout the year. He explained he shies away from going to watch intramural games with the FRG or bakes sales et. al., because he doesn't want to do those things alone.
"That is not something specifically set up for men," he said. "I would like to see things sanctioned around the male demographic, to where health is a primary objective. I would like events to be sanctioned around workouts."
He admits to being possibly biased because he is an athlete. But there are other events he thinks would be of interest to not only male spouses but helpful to wives as well.
"If you want to know how to change your oil …there should be an event here on Fort Stewart and [we can] learn how to do that," he said.
However, Jajonelle continues to be resilient during this deployment. Although his motto: Eat, Train, Sleep, keeps him pretty busy preparing as a future American Bobsled Olympian, he still makes time for his wife. The Dejarnettes stay in touch by continuing to rendezvous with one another electronically.
"We do a lot of Skype dates that are set up on the weekends," he said. "It's a set time when she is going to be off…we set a time and a date and I better not be late, that's all I know. It's just like any other date."
He said he and his wife use their dates to stay close and talk their way through any issues that they are experiencing at work, and they also discuss future dreams and plans that they have with one another. Jajonelle said a deployment is not the same for each Family, nor is there any "normal" deployment, but that spouses on the home front should treat deployments as if their spouse is not that far away.
"We actually keep a log, and there is something that we say about each other in that log each day," he said about his wife. "It's helping me to get through as well."
He made clear that he likes being a military spouse, he sees room for growth and he doesn't take the role lightly. Jajonelle explained any change can be challenging, and the first year was the toughest for him.
"I wanted to be the one out there doing the work," he said. "I wanted to be the one out there getting the paycheck. I was used to doing that in our marriage before. You want to be the person out there taking on those physical concerns, but I think that's just one of those things most men would probably be going through."
Overall, male military spouse or not, Jajonelle said a long distance relationship is not going to change he nor his wife's bond in one way or another.