By Jen Bakken
DELANO For Josie (Matuska) Houghton, being a military wife is both challenging and rewarding.
“We are the ones holding down the fort,” she said. “Married but single parents taking over for months at a time, doing the job of two parents.”
Houghton is a 1993 graduate of Delano High School, and daughter of Barb Matuska of Delano, who met her husband Steven Houghton, while in the Army. They were married in 2001 and have a seven-year-old daughter named Kennedy.
The challenging part of being a military wife is not only having your spouse gone for long periods of time, but also dealing with typical day to day things.
There is yard work to do, appliances to fix, children to raise, pets to care for, vehicles to be maintained, groceries and necessities to purchase, among other necessary tasks.
“We military families tend to be forgotten about,” said Josie Houghton. “Prayers need to be sent up for all these heroes left behind, more blessings to come down. Thank you to all those who do support the military and the family members.”
The Houghtons live in upstate, New York. Steven is serving in the US Army at Fort Bragg, NC since 2003.
In his more than 12 years of service, Steven has served three tours to Iraq and one to Korea. He received a Bronze Star for his many achievements in Iraq May 4, and in June, he will be promoted to sergeant first class.
While serving in Iraq, Steven worked directly under Lt. General Lloyd Austin. Vice President Joe Biden and their wives, visited Ft. Bragg during a welcome home ceremony for the XVIII Airborne Corps.
Dr. Jill Biden, who currently has a son serving in Iraq, and Charlene Austin “Lt. General Lloyd Austin’s wife) requested to speak with some of the wives of deployed soldiers.
“My daughter and I were invited to the meet and greet after the ceremony,” said Josie Houghton. “Kennedy enjoyed speaking with Mrs. Biden. The entire morning was history being made and we were part of it. Truly an experience I will never forget.”
The last tour this military family endured was 15 months long while Steven at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. Though the tour was long, Josie feels it was the least stressful so far.
“This was our fourth deployment, one was to Korea for 12 months,” she said. “By far the least stressful due to the fact that he was for the first time inside a fence rather than driving convoys as he did for his first tour.”
The Houghtons like to spend quality time together on vacations, at the beach, going to movies, or spending time with their family, friends, and pets.
They have a trip to Minnesota planned for June before Steven leaves for Ft. Gordon in Augusta, GA for two months of training.
“We know not to make plans to far out,” she said. “Because things just pop up every now and again.”