National Military Appreciation Month is about honoring our nation’s bravest—those men and women who have willingly dedicated their lives to serve and protect our country. But we also want to take the time to celebrate their spouses and families for making sacrifices throughout the service member's military career. Military spouses in particular face several challenges while their service member defends our country, and LMI provides a workplace that fits their changing needs. Spouses support our troops by handling everything at home while their service member is deployed and readjust every time they return home.
Military spouses are often the sole caretaker of their family for extended periods of time, making it hard for them to balance their family and work lives. LMI offers the benefit of flexible work hours to allow them to take care of their family, and works with them to scale their workload up or down as needed. Relocations happen frequently for soldiers and their spouses, and LMI provides peace of mind to spouses with job continuity through the ability to work remotely. Our organization is proud to employ over 30 percent veterans and to have been recognized as a top military veteran employer by Military Times for nine consecutive years. We appreciate all that military spouses do and work to accommodate their needs, not just on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, but every day. Today we'd like to share a special story of military spouse and LMIer Julie Kipers and her husband, LTC Jeff Kipers, retired, who served for 26 years in the U.S. Army.
An Unusual Beginning Leading to a Love Story
Sometimes life’s best stories begin with knowing the right connection at the right time. Julie found this to be true when her sister and brother-in-law set her up on a blind date with someone in her brother-in-law’s unit at Fort Eustis, Virginia. The couple met a few weeks before Jeff’s first deployment during Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and kept their long-distance romance alive with 364 days of handwritten letters, which they cherish to this day. While he was away, Julie relied on her sister for news about Jeff’s unit’s but occasionally heard disconcerting news via CNN feature stories.
When Jeff’s unit returned, many of his comrades recognized Julie from photos in Jeff’s office and helped the two find each other quickly. Julie and Jeff married five months later at the chapel on base at Fort Eustis, surrounded by family, friends, and soldiers who deployed with Jeff. The military was Jeff’s life, and it quickly became a part of Julie’s. Weathering a deployment early in their relationship helped her understand what married life would bring.
Not long after they wed, Jeff deployed to Germany, and Julie followed. She quit her job at Bank of America and found a job supporting the Army in a similar field, but found the transition from commercial industry to government difficult. While in Germany, they were stationed at Leighton Barracks in Würzburg followed by Harvey Barracks at Kitzingen Army Airfield. When they returned to the U.S., they spent a short 6 months in Fort Gordon, Georgia. Moving frequently and changing jobs proved to be one of the most challenging aspects for Julie as a military spouse.
In the late 1990’s, Jeff and Julie were stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, where Julie decided to pursue an MBA at the University of Maryland (UMD). Halfway through the program, an LMIer and UMD alum found her résumé and knew that her qualifications would make her a great fit for an internship opportunity. At the time, LMI was a small organization looking to expand. She completed the internship then returned to LMI after graduating. Julie’s transition to LMI was an easy one; many of her new coworkers came from military backgrounds and shared similar experiences, making her feel at home. Julie finally found job continuity at LMI after years of moving and finding new jobs, especially when Jeff got his final station at the Pentagon (though she faced a slightly different commute.)
Julie supported Jeff through many deployments throughout his military career, and the toughest for her was a year and a half deployment following the September 11th terrorist attacks. A new mother, her needs were constantly changing, and LMI allowed her to scale her hours to fit her family’s needs and allowed her to work remotely. Julie was able to pull through Jeff’s multitude of deployments and military life in general because she became part of the military family; you support not only your soldier, but all members of the unit and their families.
A New Perspective
Being a military spouse has given Julie a different perspective when it comes to her consulting work, and she’s able to improve the lives of soldiers and their families through her work at LMI. She has lived the military life and knows what hardships military families go through and applies her firsthand experience to guide solutions. On a particular project for the Defense Commissary Agency, she drew from her experience shopping at the base commissary to help influence the project’s success, as she was able to see it from the eyes of the end user—the military family. With projects like this and many others, she has been able to better understand DoD work, as well as other government agencies LMI supports. Her similar values and experiences allow her to empathize with her clients and suggest new solutions not everyone would be able to provide.
Jeff and Julie’s story is just one example of what makes up our unique workforce—real people experiencing real sacrifice and reward. LMI remains dedicated to those who serve our country, allowing spouses like Julie to support the military in a new way—as a consultant. While our work and client base has expanded over the years, our values still remain heavily dedicated to one thing—our people. Thank you for all that you do for our country and for our organization. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.