CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Kleve is one of many military spouses who have bore the brunt of taking care of the family while their service member deployed to combat.
Kleve, a hospital corpsman and the administration chief for 2nd Medical Logistics Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, is also part of a smaller group of women who serve alongside their husbands in the military. Being a mother and wife in a military family is tough, but doing it while serving adds a different level of difficulty.
During her and her husband’s deployments throughout their 10-year marriage, Kleve wore many hats as a sailor, leader, wife, mother, friend, daughter, and a student. Amazingly, she still found time to give back to her community through her volunteer work with Hearts Desire Equine Rescue, Inc., an organization that cares for and provides temporary shelter to abused and abandoned horses. Kleve said it takes a lot of work to “do it all” but somehow she manages to find balance.
“There are times when I get frustrated because I cannot take care of everything on my ‘to do’ list,” she said. “As long as I give it all I’ve got and take care of my family first, the rest will fall into place.”
When Kleve joined the Navy nearly 14 years ago, she did not imagine she would have the hectic, but fulfilling life she lives today. During that time, the U.S. was not involved in major combat operations in Iraq or Afganistan and Kleve’s priorities as a new military member were different. Prior to joining the Navy, she attended the University of Idaho, so she was a bit more mature than the average recruit entering military life.
“I wanted to get some medical experience and serve my country at the same time. I [am proud] that I get to do my part as an American citizen and love the camaraderie, traditions and sense of belonging in the Navy. It’s like a huge family,” she explained.
As she developed her military career, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Currently, Kleve is a working toward attaining her master’s degree in Public Health at Touro University International. Her strong character and drive to succeed, she noted, was shaped by her mother.
Kleve remembered on one particular occasion, when her mother visited her while she was stationed in Washington, D.C., and they came across a homeless woman who begged for money and food.
“I tried to walk around (the homeless woman) and not catch her eye so she wouldn’t ask me for money. My mother stopped and asked if she could buy her something to eat. We all walked to the local fast food restaurant and my mother bought the woman a meal.”
It was that kind of selflessness that Kleve hopes she can pass on to her son.
Kleve’s husband, Christopher, is a staff sergeant in the Marines who has endured several deployments during their marriage. He said he appreciated his wife’s accomplishments even more when she returned from her most recent deployment to Afghanistan.
“She is a great mom and a positive role model for our son,” he said. “It’s nice to have someone [in your life] you can count on and trust when things do or don’t go as planned.”
Upon her retirement from the Navy, Kleve hopes to work as a medical administrator.