Julie Alvarez

Spouse of Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Albert Alvarez

EOD Mobile Unit 2

Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek

When Julie Alvarez married her husband, Albert, 10 years ago, he was an aviation electronics technician.

“He was in a squadron and got to come home a lot. He deployed, but not as often,” she said.

Then somewhere along the line, Albert decided to join the elite ranks of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), a very demanding community. He’s now attached to Mobile Unit 2, based out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek.

“I supported him when he wanted to go EOD,” Julie said, who now lives in Hampton. “He went to Eglin Air Force Base for training. I support him in everything he does. But now he deploys about every six months.”

It’s a considerably more dangerous job and in high demand in Iraq and Afghanistan. EODs defuse and dispose of the improvised bombs set by terrorists. Sometimes, EODs are killed, as were two EOD technicians from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek just recently. It was Julie Alvaraz – along with other EOD spouses — who helped coordinate a memorial and the luncheon afterward for the fallen heroes.

Julie even stayed a few nights with one of the widows.

“If someone needs me, I’m there, that’s just the kind of the way I am,” Julie said.

Yet she often doesn’t take a dose of her own medicine. While begging military spouses to utilize the help available to them, when Julie felt ill following the memorial service, she drove herself to Portsmouth Medical Center where she was diagnosed with appendicitis. The command had to call around to find out she was OK.

“I’ll tell people I’ll call, I’ll call (for help), but I never do,” she laughed.

Julie currently serves as the command’s ombudsman. She set up the first-ever EOD spouses Web site <<A target="_blank" href="http://eodmu2omb.tripod.com">http://eodmu2omb.tripod.com> that she updates and runs by herself.

“She answers her phone, e-mail, cell phone 24/7 to any of us who may run into trouble or just need a shoulder to cry on,” wrote the anonymous person who nominated her. “She is a huge strength to us all and … I don’t think she really knows how much the command and spouses appreciate it.”

When Julie isn’t doing her ombudsmen duty, she’s caring for the family’s three children: Josh, 16; Isabel, 7, and 6-year-old Austin, who has a hearing impairment. She also volunteers with her children’s classes and helps out with soccer, cheerleading and karate.

“Josh is my lifesaver,” Julie said. “When I have to do things for the command, he helps out with the little ones. I don’t know what I’d do without Josh.”

Julie advises new military spouses to take advantage of what their command or station has to offer.

“We want to help, but we can’t help unless they tell us,” Julie said. “Don’t be afraid to ask. A lot of military wives are afraid asking will get their husbands into trouble. There are people just like me who are there to help you, and I’m not going to tell anyone.”

Despite the challenges, Julie has gained from the experience of being a military spouse.

“I can take on a lot more than I originally thought I could,” Julie said. “I might have a day where I have to scream, but I’m stronger than I thought I could be.”