Amy Schultze (Military Spouse Feature)
FOR: R&R Pacific
12 Mar 12
BY: Stephanie Lundberg
Military spouses hold a distinctive – and sometimes difficult – place in military life; not only do they take care of their spouses and families, but they also support the unit. They become counselors, networkers, organizers, and leaders to an ever expanding and evolving community. As many commanders have noted over the years, when a person marries an Airman, a Soldier, a Seaman, or a Marine, that person joins the service, too.
To highlight the lives and work of the extraordinary spouses who enhance the Guam military community, R&R Pacific is introducing a new feature: Serving Spouses will focus on the unique qualities, skills, and hopes of one outstanding military spouse in the Marianas region.
Amy Schultze has been dancing since she was a little girl. “I think I was four years old. That’s what my mom says – I don’t remember. The only thing I remember when I was younger was that I saw [Mikhail] Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland on TV in The Nutcracker and I was like, ‘I want to be a ballerina!’ So then I just stuck in ballet classes forever,” she says. “I went to Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA and graduated high school there. And after that [I] went on to dance professionally.”
And she has – Schultze has taught dance professionally with the Orlando Ballet, the Charleston Ballet Theatre, the Roanoke Ballet Theatre, and the Northwest Florida Ballet and Academy.
She and her husband Jeff, a photojournalist, met while Schultze was in Virginia. “We met online! It’s kind of embarrassing.” Her admission is followed by a lot of laughter. “It wasn’t like a dating [site] – it was on MySpace, which is really – I wish it was Facebook at least!’ I’m like, ‘gah, Myspace? Reallly,” she jokes.
Although her husband wasn’t in the military at the time, they had a whirlwind romance that may be familiar to many military families, marring within months of meeting each other. Jeff Schultze joined the Air Force two years into their marriage, and Andersen Air Force Base is their first assignment.
Like many spouses dealing with their first change of station, Guam was an adjustment for Amy, especially when she and her husband started a family here. “I loved it when we first got here. Then I got pregnant and I was very sick the first trimester, so I was on the couch and throwing up every day. So I hated it – I was craving food that I couldn’t get. I was like, ‘oh, I miss my family’ and my sister was pregnant at the same time.”
And then, not long after their daughter Lena was born, her husband received deployment orders. “When he went, it was kind of an open-ended thing just because it was at [Joint Base] Balad in Iraq and they were closing it down, so they didn’t know if he would be there five months or eight months or ten,” she says.
Schultze temporarily moved back to Virginia to be with her family while her husband was away, and found herself facing another challenge. “I didn’t realize when I was here [in Guam], I didn’t realize until I got back to the States and my mom was really persistent about me seeing someone, that I had postpartum depression. And so things were pretty difficult, but I was staying at my mom’s, and I was getting treatment for postpartum depression, and so I had the help of her and the support of my family.”
Schultze says that that support and treatment helped her get better, and hopes that sharing her experience will encourage other mothers to seek help as well. “It is a medical condition that a lot of women struggle with, and I think that the stigma needs to be lifted. I think a lot of people are afraid of getting help or admitting that, you know, ‘I’m having trouble with this,’ when it’s not necessarily just being a new mom but that there’s other things going on, like hormonal or neurological or whatever is going on.”
Her husband’s deployment was ultimately only five months, and they returned to Guam shortly after it ended. Schultze says life has been a different experience since then. “We got back and [Lena’s] older, it’s been awesome…I’m in love with it again. We’re going out and we’re doing hiking things, we’re going to the beach, we’re doing a lot of fun stuff. So it’s good. It’s really cool, there’s a lot of stuff to do on Guam. I think I’m really going to miss it when we leave, because it’s such a unique, quirky place.”
When asked what’s next for her and her family, Schultze says she isn’t sure. She’s talking with the Youth Center on Andersen about starting some dance classes, and the family is enjoying Guam’s charms. They are also set to end their assignment later this year, although they don’t know where they’re going yet.
Schultze is hopeful, though, and seems to only want to be close to the same kind of vibrant culture she’s experienced on Guam. “I think as long as we’re somewhere that has a lot of museums or festivals or farmer’s markets – a lot of things going on – I think we’ll be happy.”