Becoming GI Jane


A few weeks ago on a blazing hot and humid North Carolina morning I joined about 80 other wives from my husband’s unit for GI Jane Day…a day for all of the unit spouses to try some of the demanding challenges our husbands do as part of their military training.

The day started with a run.  Carrying giant water bottles.  Through the mud. We were divided into teams so our team of 8 had four big water bottles to carry, which was great because we could trade off.  Let me tell you-those things were heavy!


After the run we had an obstacle course complete with barbed-wire low crawling.  Yeah that’s red clay I’m scootching through.  My husband thought this was hilarious as I’m not a “get in the dirt” kinda gal.  The entire time I was trying to do this I could hear him yelling from the side “get your head down Melissa!”  And I kept thinking “I am NOT putting my face in the dirt!”  This even gave me an awesome set of scabbed up elbows as a souvenir too.


We also got to try to shoot a few different types of weapons.  (Shooting blanks of course) It was loud.  Very loud.  Even with ear protection.  And those guns spew out blazing hot shells as you shoot.  And apparently when I shoot a gun laying down I have to go all Superman and lift my feet up…not sure what that’s all about!

jump tower collage

The last event of the day was the biggie-the jump tower.  The guys are in an Airborne unit so jumping out of the jump tower is about as close as we can get to seeing what they go through.  They walked us through mock airplanes and taught us about the jumping procedure, then we were rigged up and marched to the top of a 34 foot tower to practice jumping, just like the guys do when they are going through Airborne school.

Back-story here: when I was dating my husband and we lived in Italy his unit there did a family day where I had the chance to jump out of the same type of tower and I totally chickened out.  I was so mad at myself afterwards and for the past seven years have been angry that I didn’t try it.  This time when we were given the chance, I volunteered to go first! Less time to chicken out!


It was seriously scary (I’m a little afraid of heights) but I could see my boys and my husband below and I just kept telling myself it was just like ziplining (it wasn’t though!) I was so proud of myself for doing it and I know my hubby was proud too that I stepped up and went first.

I think the best part of the entire experience was bonding with the other spouses.  Many of us have been through multiple years of having our spouses deployed-we know what each other have been through, and we know it can and most likely will happen again. By growing our friendships with each other we build the foundation of a support system that no military spouse should be without. And really, what better way to grow a friendship than by sporting matching scraped elbows?


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  1. Oldmurse says

    Way to go! Congratulations on overcoming your fears. What a great experience. Thank you and your family for their sacrifices to keep us safe.

    • Melissa Riker says

      Thanks!! It was pretty exhilarating to finally jump the tower after all those years of being mad at myself!

  2. says

    Omg! Army Wives rock! Don’t you just love having awesome opportunities to spend the day with other amazing spouses! How fun! I’m sure your hubs was really proud, I would love to e able to ride and shoot from a tank!

      • says

        Heck no! Fun events like that were not done when I was a younger wife! Instead we attended events that reminded me of a sorority that taught us the proper etiquette for being a military wife and give the army wives handbook to read! Haha
        The only fun even I ever went to that could even compare is when I attended my very first coffee as a new bride and the battalion commanders wife and XO wife got into a squabble when too much wine was involved! Funniest event ever!! Lol

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