"I knew I was in a rut and was looking to have a change," says 39-year-old Crystal Gates, a mom of three and Marine wife who works as a Family Readiness Officer at Camp Pendleton. Gates, who has been through seven deployments with her husband, says while it has been a privilege to be married to a Marine for 20 years, they've spent nearly half of that time apart.
"I have learned to be mom and dad at times, deal with electrical issues, water main breaks, gas leaks and mice," says Gates. "The biggest challenge in all of it is keeping a smile when really feeling like falling apart. I love every moment, though, and would not change it for anything."