'Oprah' looks at life on JBER

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 19:24
New TV show documents military wives
Yolanda and Col. Morris Goins as seen on “Married To The Army: Alaska.”

Ask any service member who’s been deployed what they miss most while overseas — family undoubtedly tops that list.

But what’s life like for that same family still on base?

In just three days, you’ll find out.

Inside of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, cameras followed seven wives of paratroopers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division during their recent deployment to Afghanistan. “Married to the Army: Alaska” premiers Sunday, Nov. 18 on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

“You’re going to see a story of sisterhood and selflessness and sacrifice,” said Yolanda Goins, one of the wives on the show and the spouse of Col. Morris Goins.

Though apprehensive at first, Mrs. Goins said she didn’t notice the cameras after awhile.

“It became second nature,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

The show follows more than just soldiers’ wives, Yolanda Goins said. The soldiers, their children, spouses and friends are all documented, she said.

“It’s also showing Army life as a whole,” she said.

As the brigade commander’s wife, Goins said other spouses often seek her advice.

“In that role, they do look up to you,” she said. “I found that sometimes I would have to be the killer of stress.”

Sara Dunlap is thankful to have Goins’ counsel to rely on.

After a soldier in her husband’s unit was killed in action, a distraught Dunlap turned to Yolanda.

“She knew exactly what to say,” Dunlap said. “Words that coated my soul.”

Dealing with her first deployment was difficult, Dunlap said.

“It got extremely overwhelming at times,” she said. “As a new Army wife, I had no idea the sacrifices that these ladies make.”

The latter is why the show is so important, Dunlap said. Most of the country sees photos of cheerful reunions when soldiers return home, she said, but they never witness life during deployment.

“What you don’t see is the sacrifice of the 10 and 12 months leading up to those reunions,” Dunlap said. “What’s happening behind the scenes.”

Dunlap had the added stress of moving from Texas with two small children right before her husband’s deployment.

“I had to navigate not only the Army and the subculture of that — and Alaska,” she said.

Yolanda Goins has watched her husband go overseas four times.

Because she’s been at different stages in her life, the experience has never been the same, she said. Goins said she has grown in different ways every time.

“Each deployment is different,” she said.

The most recent deployment documented on the show was the first time Goins was left in an empty house.

Growing up in a military family, Goins was prepared for the life when she met her husband.

“I knew what I was getting into,” she said. “I always said I wouldn’t marry someone in the military, but here we are.”

Though many reality shows have negative connotations, Goins said, “Married to the Army: Alaska” is different. It delivers an important message, she said.

“I’m very, very excited to have our story told,” Goins said.

Dunlap agreed.

“I’m so grateful to have been a part of it,” she said. “It’s a story that America needs to see.” alaskastar.com

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