Staff Sergeant Jamie J. Rae
Family: Husband, Tyson; son, Aiden, 15 months
THE RAE FAMILY (l to r): Aiden, Tyson and Jamie
Jamie joined the Marines for opportunity and adventure and found both. She deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a radio repair specialist. She married high school sweetheart, Tyson, the same year he became a Marine officer.
Tyson received orders to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and left days after Jamie found out they were expecting. She restationed to Hawaii with a newborn during her eight-week maternity leave. Just months later, Jamie and Aiden said goodbye to Dad for seven months as he deployed to Afghanistan. She’s a financial management resource analyst for the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific and, for the moment, the family is living in the same place.
You endured major life changes concurrently. How challenging were your son’s first months?
JR: I was pretty stressed. I like everything a certain way. For the first time in my life I couldn’t control everything because there’s a baby!
The hardest part was being so exhausted, having to take care of my son and only having a certain amount of time in the Marine Corps to get the baby weight off.
I was at a new job, and when you are a Marine you are being judged constantly. As a female, that judgment is based on physical appearance and physical abilities. I was hormonal, stressed out and pumping milk a couple times a day. To get the weight off, my dieting affected my milk production, but I nursed 13 months … As for being a mom, I absolutely loved it. It was and is worth all the exhaustion and effort.
Where did you find support during that time?
JR: My sister is my best friend. Talking to her with a five-hour time difference is hard, but we share everything … I had to move two times here when they were redoing base housing. The ladies I lived next to in the second house are friends I have today. One husband was deployed six times; the other’s was deployed for the first time. We had the same kinds of challenges at the same time.
When you wear both hats of Marine and Marine spouse, is it hard to find where you fit?
JR: As far as I know, I’m the only one in my husband’s unit who is a military spouse. Some do work. I have been told twice, by a male Marine and by the wife of a Marine that I am not a good mom because I’m in the Marine Corps.
I think if you love your child and are doing what’s best for him, your work is your business. I have my days that daycare bothers me, but I see how happy and well-developed he is, and he knows his mom and dad love him.
Does being a mom make you a better Marine, or being a Marine make you a better mom?
JR: They both make you prioritize things. You have to have yourself together to do either, and to do both together. Motherhood is more natural for me. And being a Marine is something my personality fits well with.
A mom is all emotions. As a Marine, I’m not supposed to have emotions. So I guess I have to be one person at work and one person at home. When I’m at work, I concentrate on that and I get my job done. I know that everything I’m doing as a Marine is to be the best I can for my son.
Jamie is taking advantage of her tropical digs to run races year-round. She attends Marine Corps Base Hawaii Chapel Evening MOPS.