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When US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter invited Corie, as the 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, to join his team on a one-week overseas holiday trip, she eagerly accepted, hoping to gain a better understanding of her husband’s deployment experience and lessen the impact sacred spaces had on her marriage.
Corie didn’t choose the timing or circumstances of her trip with Secretary Carter—Christmastime, in the midst of her family’s second cross-state move in six months—but it seemed the perfect opportunity for Corie and Matt to gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.
Matt experienced life on the home front with new eyes as he moved their household belongings, prepared for the holidays, and settled their two young sons into their new school.
At US military installations and aboard aircraft and aircraft carriers in Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf, Corie spoke with military families stationed overseas and deployed troops on the ground, in the air, and at sea. She paid close attention to her own sensory and emotional reactions to these new environments and recorded her thoughts each day via video log, blog, and social media. She also wrote about the trip for Military Spouse magazine.
While she wanted to inform other military families about her discoveries, Corie deeply hoped the trip would impact her own marriage as well. She didn’t choose the locations the entourage would visit, yet fate landed her in the very place that had changed the trajectory of her life.
As Corie sat in the belly of a C-17, where her husband had said goodbye to the remains of friends and fellow soldiers, as she touched with her own hands the memorial at FOB Fenty and reflected on her grief as a care team member following the battle of COP Keating, Corie realized this journey was about much more than the push-pull of duty away from loved ones.