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March 28, 2011

Interview with Tina Sauer

by K. Tsetsi

–by Kristen Tsetsi

Tina Sauer, creator of the facebook page “Screw Prince Charming…I Married a Soldier,” met her husband Henry in early 2008 on the dating website “Hot or Not” while he was deployed to Iraq. They talked for about six months—through and after his deployment—and only finally met in person at the end of 2008.

“When he PCS’d [was moved by the military] to Fort Bragg, we met at the airport the day he flew in and have been together pretty much ever since,” Tina says.

LIFT: What was it like to see him in person for the first time?

TINA: I was definitely nervous! I spent at least two hours figuring out what to wear and how to fix my hair and makeup so he would be impressed with his “first view” of me. (He had seen me plenty of times on webcam and we talked on the phone a lot, but I think your first opinion in person means so much more!)

I arrived at the airport about twenty minutes prior to his flight’s arrival, and then I just hung out around the baggage claim he would be coming to. While waiting, I was texting a friend, telling her how nervous I was and that I hoped he wouldn’t be a jerk in person. (Haha!) Suddenly, in the middle of my texting, this really handsome, tanned guy in ACUs walked up beside me and said, “Hey.” By the New York accent, I could tell it was him without even glancing. My heart literally skipped a beat when I stood up to hug him. (Honestly, it felt like a huge adrenaline rush mixed with weak knees when I stood up.)

LIFT: When was Henry’s most recent deployment?

TINA: His last deployment was to Afghanistan. He left in January 2010 and came home in September 2010 with a hand injury.

LIFT: In what way was his second deployment different for you than his first?

TINA: On his first deployment, there was no emotional connection. We were just friends. By his second deployment, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life as his wife.

LIFT: How, if at all, did the latest deployments affect (either positively or negatively) your relationship with Henry?

TINA: The beginning of the deployment instantly made our relationship stronger. Throughout the deployment, our relationship kept getting stronger and stronger. The saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” is definitely true for us. I can’t begin to describe the difference between the beginning of his deployment until now.

Like most couples, though, we did have our really tough moments. Any time we got really anxious about something or were stressed about the deployment, we would argue. Before he came home for R&R, we argued a little, and we argued a couple of times during R&R. I think most of our arguments happened after R&R, though. We missed each other a lot, and being newlyweds made things even harder.

LIFT: What was Henry’s deployment like for you?

TINA: It definitely shook me up. I hated being without him all the time. I got to talk to him online basically every day, which helped us, but it wasn’t the same. I also got so accustomed to talking to him daily that when a few days went by and we didn’t talk, I ended up having a break down and stressing until I heard from him again.  One thing I can say I learned from that is, “No news is good news.” I tell this to everyone all the time because it honestly is the only thing that you can say and believe in.

As far as sleep goes, I barely slept at all. I can recall being up at 0200 just waiting to see if he would get online that night so I could talk to him. For the longest time, I would catch about an hour or two of sleep and then do whatever needed to be done around the house or with my kids, and then do everything all over again. Some nights I would sit up all night talking to him online, looking at pictures because I couldn’t sleep, or just reading the letters he wrote me and writing him back because I wanted nothing more than to be close to him.

LIFT: What everyday things bothered you the most while he was gone?

TINA: The news is definitely number 1. I refuse to watch the news, because the one time I did, I didn’t hear from my husband for 48 hours and it was the same night a lot of soldiers were killed. I was worried and crying non-stop until he finally called.

Next would be people in general. While my husband was deployed, the last thing I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and their husband. It was bad enough that mine wasn’t there with me, but to see them with theirs…it just really got to me.

LIFT: What impression do you have of what others – civilians with no connection to the military – think of the military family? That is, how do you feel military families/the military community is perceived based on what you see in the media and hear from others?

TINA: From my experience with most civilians with no connection to the military, I get the impression that they think we are rich. I’m not saying that goes for all of them, just many I’ve met or know personally.

LIFT: What do you wish more people understood about the experience of having a loved one go to war?

TINA: I really wish people understood that it’s not the same as having their boyfriend, husband, best friend, or fiancé’ going on a business trip or a vacation. It’s a war zone. Even if their s/o is on a business trip for a year, they don’t worry whether they will come home, get killed, get hurt, or whether they’ll be able to talk to them anytime soon. It’s really tough to deal with deployments; it’s definitely no vacation.

LIFT: It could be argued that people learn a lot about various lifestyles and experiences—or are at least persuaded to look into them more deeply—by watching the news. Do you have an opinion of the media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan?

TINA: I don’t think there is enough coverage, and when there is coverage, it is one-sided. You only hear the bad and nothing about the good. For example, when American troops assist with the building for a water treatment facility that will provide good, clean, potable water to thousands of locals every year, you don’t hear about that.

LIFT: Your experience with Henry’s deployments obviously inspired you to create your facebook page, “Screw Prince Charming…I Married a Soldier.” What function does the page serve?

TINA: It is a support site for wives, girlfriends, and fiancés of any branch of the military. I try to help all of the ladies with any advice, remind them there is a light at the end of the tunnel for deployments, and that I am always there if they need a shoulder to cry on.

LIFT: There are the harder times, like deployments, and then the exciting times, like the homecomings, the opportunity to move around, etc. What elements of being a military family do you most enjoy?

TINA: Basically, everything. I honestly can’t think of anything I hate about it. I just really love that there is so much support for our men and women in uniform.


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