Military Finances: Newlyweds on 2 Separate Continents
Guest Post from Cloe
Real Army Wives: The Mystery Checks
Today’s post is written by a good friend and fellow real Army wife of mine who is the inspiration for the character, Cloe. You can read more about her on this post. When I mentioned this to Alan, he said, “Oh yeah, Rob! That dude had to shave his face twice a day.” Oh, the things you remember…
Early Summer 2003
“What? What do you mean there isn’t enough in the account to cover this withdrawal?”
I stand in front of the bank teller counter confused. I’ve been the only one using the account for three months since my husband left for war. I thought I had a handle on this part of military life, even if I was only 20 years old.
The teller says she can pull the account history. Apparently, several checks just cleared and they were signed in my husband’s name.
I haven’t heard from him since he left- no letter, no email, no phone call. I had written to him at least once a week. Although I was in college, I didn’t know many people since I hadn’t lived near Killeen for long. Writing letters helped me feel closer to him.
I wrote him a different kind of letter this time: expressing my concern of the possibility of fraudulent checks or if it was him- I was really upset he spent that much money without thinking of how I would pay the bills! I had paid the rent by the “skin of my teeth”.
But I kept glancing at the account history and copies of the checks. I even called his dad and asked him to take a look at them.
Somehow each check had the date, amount, and signature written differently. Why were the dates sometimes numbers but others written as words? Some in cursive but others in print letters? Why was the signature not consistent? It made no sense to me.
In the letter I wrote, the first words were “We’ve got a real problem”!
I also sent him the bank paperwork to claim someone had committed check fraud, pretty serious stuff. I believed someone had stolen the few checks he took with him.
A few weeks later he called! I was so nervous to take his call, I had dreamed and wished for so long (3 months) to hear from him and talk gushy sweet nothings as newlyweds . But, it wasn’t the sappy call I was hoping for. He called because his command heard about the potential check fraud paperwork I had sent. His Lieutenant Colonel allowed him to call because they were concerned.
That’s when he breaks the news to me that he had never written a check before.
Seriously, at 20 he hadn’t written a check before???? I couldn’t believe he had actually written those checks. He said he really needed those items he bought at the PX in Kuwait.
I felt sort of bad for him, being in the midst of war and all, but I still asked him to rip up any remaining checks.
It was one of the first financial lessons we learned as a married couple.
–And looking back probably a clue into my love of accounting. To this day we still joke about one item he bought, which was new technology for 2003. It never made it home since within a few days of purchase it “fried” in the intense Iraq summer heat! So much for being “necessary.”
It truly was a struggle trying to manage finances from 2 separate continents. You can’t predict the crazy things that will happen!
Thank you so much for allowing me to post your story, Cloe!
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