Sometimes life isn’t about where you’re going, but about who you’re coming home to.
Sgt. 1st Class Corey Parker was getting ready to come home from a deployment in Kuwait when he was scrolling through a dating app; about four months later, he’d be asking Sarah to marry him.
“We just kept talking for a couple of months, and I just kept talking to her more and more,” he said. “So, I went out to California, that’s where she’s from, and it was nice just talking about life, what we wanted as a couple and from our relationship.”
The couple will be celebrating their fourth anniversary in December, but military life isn’t always easy.
Challenges can spring up from the most unexpected places like when Corey was on another deployment, Sarah was pregnant, and Julian, their son, needed to have surgery.
It was supposed to be a nine-month deployment. Instead, it was only three.
Sarah reached out to the Red Cross, who was able to assist in getting Corey back home to be with his son.
“If we weren’t able to do that, me being by myself for that and me being pregnant…” Sarah said. “That was scary.”
The best advice the Parkers have for other military families is patience.
“Make sure you understand what the person in the military is doing and make sure you have something set up for your spouse and far as something to do if they’re not employed,” Corey said. “If they are employed, just be supportive of each other and make sure you have goals set for the whole entire family.”
Corey was single when he started his military career. After high school, he weighed his options and decided the Army offered him the opportunities he was looking for.
“I thought about joining the Air Force, but after seeing what they do, I was like, ‘I don’t think that would be the best for me,’” he said. “So, I looked at some of the jobs they had in the Army and said ‘that would be cool, something different.’ I talked to my dad about it, and he was like, ‘you know you can get a job, go to college or join the military.’ So, I joined the Army.”
After getting married and having children – he has three children in all, including his oldest Aaliyah, 10; the aforementioned Julian, now 8; and Aanya, 3 – Corey said things changed dramatically.
“I like it though, every bit of it,” he said. “Coming home to someone is very good.”
He’s now in college and expects to earn his bachelor’s degree soon.
Like many military families, the Parkers have lived in multiple places. As a family, they’ve been stationed in Colorado and Huntsville.
Sarah said using the programs offered by Child and Youth Services at Redstone Arsenal helped them adjust to their new home. The programs provided a place for Aanya, who is 3, to play with other children her age and gave Sarah a chance to meet other parents.
“When we got to Colorado, I (used the services provided by the post), and I did it here,” Sarah said. “I typed in Redstone Arsenal and tried to look for moms’ groups and activities. So that’s how I found the CYS and the Christmas tree lighting and the bowling.”
Corey has enjoyed his time in the Army, and Sarah has too.
“For me, it’s exciting because I get to places that I wouldn’t have been able to go to otherwise,” she said.
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles about military families during Military Family Month.