Face of Defense: Husband, Wife Become Citizen-Soldiers Together

Irene and Nate Miller met through mutual friends in their picturesque home town of Chagrin Falls in northeast Ohio’s Geauga County and have been married for four years. They’re best friends and, according to Irene, do everything together — including joining the Ohio Army National Guard at the same time.

They said they each have wanted to join the military since they were young, and recently started to look at putting the idea into action. They were hesitant to go on active duty because they didn’t want to move far from work, school and family.

“We had endless conversations about every possible angle, and eventually decided to check out the guard, since we would be able to have one foot in the civilian world while still serving our country, Irene said.

Nate added, “We can continue to live where we do and we will have more time to see each other than if we went active duty.

Dual-Military Families

Statistics aren’t kept on the number of married spouses entering service at the same time, but dual-military marriages are rare. Although the Army National Guard does not track dual-military marriages, a 2015 report by the Defense Department put the figure at 2.6 percent among the National Guard and Reserve.

“I’ve talked with our recruiters in other parts of the state and no one can remember a recent case where a married couple joined together, said the Millers’ recruiter, Army Sgt. Noah Siegner, with the Ohio Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

“They’re an awesome couple and I think they’ll be very successful in the Ohio Army National Guard,” Siegner said.

The Millers, both 27 years old, raised their right hands at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Cleveland on May 25 to take their oaths in the Ohio Army National Guard. They’re scheduled to go to basic training in October, and will be assigned to the 1484th Transportation Company, based in North Canton, Ohio. Irene will train to be a human resources specialist while Nate will train to be a motor transport operator.

While the Millers can’t wait to get started, each said they understand it will be challenging balancing a military commitment and a marriage.

“The biggest challenge will be [to be] separated for almost six months while we go through basic and advanced individual training, but we’re committed to making our relationship the first priority,” Nate said.

“We are both going to be busy with our separate commitments, and taking the time to just enjoy each other’s company could be a challenge, Irene said. “If possible, we’ll try to go on a date once a week and keep those communication lines open.”