Our Story: Why My Husband Left the Air Force Academy

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My husband and I have been together for a long time. We met at 14 years old and started dating just before we turned 15. Things took an unexpected turn less than a year into our relationship though. Aaron (my husband) between our freshman and sophomore year of high school had the opportunity to attend a military high school in another state to help his chances of getting into the United States Air Force Academy when he graduated. Before we knew what hit us, we were in a long distance relationship.

If you aren’t already aware, new relationships (especially when you’re a teenager) are very fragile. This made things all the more difficult. Despite my insecurities and the heartache that comes with long distance relationships, we held on for 4 years while he completed high school and a year of junior college at the military school. The next phase of our lives would be when Aaron finally got accepted to USAFA. It was a bittersweet moment. When he got into the academy, I knew that it meant another 4 years apart, but at least now he would only be about an hour away from me. It was an improvement over the 9-ish hour drive it took to see each other for the previous 4 years.

The plan was simple. When Aaron graduated from the academy, we would get married right away and go wherever he was stationed. When you’re accepted into any military academy, you can’t have any legal dependents (wife, kids) for the duration of your time there as a cadet. You are dedicating those years to your training to become an officer in the military. You live, eat, sleep, and learn at the academy. That’s your whole life until you graduate. While Aaron was in school, I was going to work and live with my parents or in an apartment during that time. I couldn’t wait to get married and be a military family when it was all over. I mostly just couldn’t wait to not be separated from Aaron anymore. Our plan was simple, and then everything changed.

A little over a year into Aaron’s time at the academy, we found out that we were pregnant. Now we had both been raised very conservative and so this was not only a big no-no in our families, it meant Aaron could face being kicked out of the academy and his dream would be over if they found out about it. We were terrified, but we told our parents (who thankfully didn’t kill us) and with our families we decided that we could make it work. I would continue to live with my parents and they were going to help me raise the baby while Aaron had to be away until he graduated and we could get married. It could work. It had to.

I stopped visiting Aaron at the academy once my belly was too big to hide the pregnancy and Aaron made it to as many of my doctor’s appointments as he could. When the time came, we chose to have my labor induced one week before the baby’s due date in order for Aaron to be at the birth. The day came and our son Asher was born. Aaron was able to make it to the hospital shortly after I’d been induced and he helped me through labor and the delivery along with my Mom. Only a few hours after the baby was born though, Aaron had to get back to the academy. I’m sure it was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. I’ll never forget that day.

We hid the fact that Aaron had a child for several months. Aaron just started coming home every weekend that he could so that he could be with Asher and I. My parents were amazing and helped me with the baby as much as they possibly could. We were making it work! Just a couple more years of this and we can finally stop hiding, we thought.

The blow came out of nowhere. Aaron was called into the office of his A.O.C. (Air Officer in Command) one day. The officer asked Aaron if he had a child and proceeded to tell him that he shouldn’t deny it because they had received an anonymous phone call from someone (all he told Aaron was that the person was male and probably in his 50s or 60s from the sound of it). The man told them that he had information about a cadet who had a child, and that he thought since that was against the rules something should be done about it. Aaron told the truth and the officer in charge of the situation went on a mission to basically destroy Aaron. He wanted to stick him with an honor violation and a dishonorable discharge that would require him to fulfill his commitment (pay back the government for the education he had received). It was the most stressful time in Aaron’s life. He went a couple of days without sleep and had to go to the infirmary. After working with the on-base lawyers who fought to prevent the worst from happening to Aaron, ultimately the best they could do was give him the option to either disown our son and continue his education, or leave the academy with an honorable discharge. Aaron chose to leave the academy.

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This was 10 years ago. He left the academy in 2007 and we were married in 2008. Though it was devastating at the time and Aaron dealt with a few years of resentment for what had happened and how things were handled, we realize that it gave us the freedom we really wanted. Aaron has a great job and we are very happy. Does Aaron still wish he could have become a pilot? I’m sure he does. At the end of the day though, we know that what happened to us happened for a reason and even without the Air Force Academy, Aaron has made something of himself that we are very proud of. Not to mention Asher came into our lives, which made life so much sweeter. So I guess the point is that sometimes situations that seem horrible at the time are actually for the best. It taught us to accept change in our lives and look for the positive.

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