From the beginning of President Barack Obama's administration, first lady Michelle Obama has shown a deep concern for military families, and indeed has made it a main platform for her tenure in the White House.
OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by military wives in “Married to the Army: Alaska,” premiering Sunday, Nov. 18 at 10 p.m.
The eight-part "docu-series" follows the wives of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, including Yolanda, Traci, Sara, Rynn, Lindsay, Salina and Blair, all stationed at Ft. Richardson, Alaska.
According to the network, Alaska is home to more than 10,000 active-duty soldiers, about 7,000 whom were deployed to Afghanistan over the past two years. The war in Iraq may be over, but it continues in Afghanistan, and for those families whose loved ones are still gone, life during deployment is challenging, especially in Alaska, an assignment the military considers as demanding as a overseas post.
For the men and women whose spouses serve in the U.S. Army, deployment is not just an abstract word heard on the evening news. Military wives find themselves in a unique sisterhood. The tightest bonds are formed over fears of deployment, realities of Army life and the "emotional rollercoaster" of homecomings - all set against the backdrop of the rugged, demanding and extreme conditions of Alaska.
In December 2011, the moment that they have all been dreading comes to pass. The husbands are deployed to Afghanistan, leaving the wives to cope with the kids, the house, the wildlife and the elements on their own. Fortunately, they have each other.
"We are the only ones who understand what each other is going through. We all have a common story - our husbands are in harm's way," said Yolanda. Salina, who is expecting, added, "I want America to see that we go to work like you do. We raise families like you do."
In the premiere episode titled "The Hooters Comment was Offensive," the wives (who thankfully, are actually married) are introduced to viewers. While Yolanda, the Brigade Commander's wife, tries to promote sisterhood among the battalion wives, Traci and Lindsey battle over Army wife etiquette, and Sara's housewarming takes a troubling turn after the women hear news of a communications blackout down range. During a blackout, the Army disables all communication between soldiers and their families to prevent improper notifications in reaching those with wounded or fallen soldiers.
In the second episode titled “Have You Ever Been in a Turkish Prison?” airing at 10 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19, Lindsey struggles with an emotionally distracted husband during R&R (rest and relaxation), Blair's pre-R&R lingerie shopping is disrupted by an upsetting phone call, and a pregnant Salina rushes to the hospital with abdominal pains.