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Posted 2/13/2013

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By Jennifer Aldridge
USACE Europe District


WIESBADEN, Germany - Some say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District is like a family. Being in Europe, far from home brings employees together to experience and enjoy life overseas. But for 34 employees here, one of their colleagues actually is family – their spouse.
USACE Europe District is home to 17 married couples. In honor of Valentine’s Day, five brave husbands and wives discuss what it’s like to call their spouse a co-worker.

Trish (systems accountant) and Mike Pearson (contract specialist)

How long have you worked together?

Trish: Seven years -- two here and before that we worked at the Japan District together.

What are the benefits of working for the same organization?

Trish: We can commute to and from work together if we need to. We help each other out since our work tends to cross paths, and it's good to have “in" to the other's office. Plus, I think we have a better understanding of different aspects of the organization and what's going on in the district since we work in different sections (Resource Management and Contracting). Mike's work is project-related, so I learn a lot from him about what the district is actually doing. I work for a support office and focus mainly on CEFMS and financial issues and can help him with those types of things.

Is there a drawback to working together? If so, what?

Trish: For us, no. But I think there could be if we constantly talked about work at home or worked right next to each other. Even though we work on the same floor, we really don't see each other during the day and we try to limit work talk outside of the office. Also, I think we respect each other's work ethic and decisions, which is really important.

Mike: Not really, although when we lived in Japan, we also worked with a Dan Pearson, and people thought he was Trish’s husband.

Who is more driven at work?

Trish: Mike is.

Who is in charge at home?

Trish: It depends. I think we split a lot of the household chores and responsibilities. After almost 10 years of marriage, it sort of happened naturally.

Mike: The dog. I don’t see her picking up after us.

Raquel “Q” (contract specialist) and Thomas Blankenhorn (program manager)

How long have you worked together?

Raquel: We have been working together for four-and-a-half years here, including one year in Afghanistan. We have been married for 24 years. We met at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida -- we both worked in contracting. We have always worked together well.

What are the benefits of working for the same organization?

Raquel: We come and go together. Managing all of our family activities is much easier.

Tom: Communication is easier. I can walk down the hall and speak to Raquel.

Raquel: We have lunch together every day.

Tom: (laughing) This could also be listed as a disadvantage.

Raquel: I feel fortunate to work with Tom on contracting issues because he speaks my language.

Who is more driven at work?

Raquel: (pointing to Tom) He absolutely, definitely is more driven.

Who is in charge at home?

Tom: It depends on what you are asking about. If it’s a meal, it’s Raquel; if it’s a financial matter, it’s me. If it is decorating the house, that’s also me.

(Raquel laughs)

Raquel: I think it’s pretty cool that USACE conscientiously hires couples. Happy couples are happy workers.

Betsy (managerial assistant) and John Walls (operations sergeant)

What are the benefits of working for the same organization?

Betsy: I understand John’s job a lot better. Being here and seeing it -- now I know what he does.

John: I can call her on a DSN line, I only have to dial four numbers.

Is there a drawback to working together? If so, what?

Betsy: We go home and talk about work more than we should.

John: Betsy tells everyone I am nice.

Who is more driven at work?

Betsy: We are both driven in different ways. We strive to work hard.

Who is in charge at home?

John: We are a team.

Nicole (environmental project manager) and Graeme Silva (contract specialist)

What are the benefits of working for the same organization?

Nicole: We have a better understanding of the type of work we are doing and have more developed conversations about work at home. Also, it is cool that our kids can visit the office and it is like one big happy family.

Graeme: We get to eat lunch together.

Who is more driven at work?

Graeme: (points to Nicole)

Who is in charge at home?

Graeme: (points to Nicole again)

Is USACE welcoming to spousal hires?

Nicole: Yes, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have brought a spouse on board.

Graeme: It was a goal of mine living overseas to get a job as a federal civilian, and I’m happy to have achieved that.

Heidi (budget officer) and Ryan Boone (transportation technician)

What are the benefits of working for the same organization?

Heidi: We save on gas.

Ryan: I have a CEFMS guru.

What are the drawbacks?

Heidi: We can talk about work a lot, too much.

Who is more driven at work?

Heidi: Neither or we both are -- Ryan has more customers, more hands-on work. I do more brain work. It’s different.

Who is in charge at home?

Heidi: I used to be in charge before I was pregnant. Now, Ryan does everything.

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