Illinois Army National Guard Couple Balances Family and Company Commands
SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/17/2017) (readMedia)-- SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Relationships have their challenges, but military relationships can pose unique challenges to couples. 1st Lt. Christopher Roeloffs, commander of Company D, Brigade Support Battalion in Galva, Illinois, and Capt. Kim Roeloffs, commander of Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign, Illinois, said maintaining balance, supporting each other and allowing each other to maintain their individualism has been paramount in their marriage.
"It's all about give or take," said Chris. "Most importantly, we let go of the little things, always keeping in mind the bigger picture of our lives together and our growing family," said Kim.
Chris, a Special Education Teacher at Gresham Elementary in Chicago, originally from Sherman, Illinois and Kim, a nurse, who is originally from Warrenville, Illinois, met in February 2011 at the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. After completing the OCS program they were both assigned to the 3637th Support Maintenance Company based in Springfield, Illinois.
The demand on Army National Guard officers, especially those in command roles, is a tall order but the Roeloffs tackle it together. Both serve as commanders in the 634th Brigade Support Battalion and said they sit down and analyze operational orders from their higher command together.
"I lean heavily on Kim's experience and knowledge because she has nearly completed her first command "said Chris. "Kim understands how many of the new changes in the Army apply at the unit-level."
Kim said the two also have different leadership styles so they will give each other advice on how to approach a certain situation.
"We don't always take each other's advice and that's ok," said Kim. "We always try to remember that we are giving each other advice as peers and not as spouses."
Chris said even though having discussions about their careers together is helpful, maintaining balance and time management is key.
"For as much as they both have on their plates at a given time, they manage to make it all look easy while finding time for fun, one another, as well as friends and family," said 1st Lt. Leslie Zarker of Champaign, Illinois, Battalion Fire Direction Officer for the 2-122 Field Artillery Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company based in Chicago, who has known the Roeloffs since 2011.
Zarker said she thinks the Roeloffs are excellent at making their relationship a partnership.
"They always work together as a team to help each other be successful; as new parents, military professionals, and in their civilian careers," said Zarker.
Capt. Moses Woods of Chicago, Commander of Company G of the 634th Brigade Support Battalion based in Joliet, Illinois, said he met the couple in 2011 toward the end of OCS.
"They may be the best time managers I've ever met," said Woods. "I've witnessed them successfully juggle many responsibilities to include school, military, civilian careers and taking care of their son."
Woods said an aspect of the couple's relationship that stands out to him is they know how to decompress and have fun when necessary.
"They know how to turn up the 'seriousness' when necessary, but also turn it down for the sake of maintaining a sense of normalcy in their personal lives."
Chris said being in command demands a lot of the couple's time and attention away from work, school, children and everyday life.
"We support each other's need for time and help each other as much as possible," said Chris. "It is definitely a challenge at times though."
Chris and Kim said a major contributor to their success is their family support. Chris said the couple has been called to training simultaneously and they have to rely on their parents and siblings to watch their son.
"We are fortunate that both our families are readily willing and volunteer to watch our son, James, and help out when he is sick," said Chris.
Kim said they will be leaning on their family more than ever in the coming months when she transfers units. The couple is also welcoming a new baby girl to their family in June.
Kim said her best advice for military couples is to lean on each other, but remember you are individuals.
"Ask your spouse when they want advice, don't impose it on them," said Kim. "Just as peers/colleagues, don't always expect them to take it."
Kim said to be supportive and proud of your significant other.
"There's no better feeling than knowing with one hundred percent certainty your spouse is proud and stands behind your accomplishments," said Kim. "Make it a priority to be there in the big moments for each other. "
They said couples should also take advantage of Illinois National Guard Strong Bonds events.
Photo Cutline 1: Capt. Kim Roeloffs, commander of Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign, Illinois and 1st Lt. Christopher Roeloffs, commander of Company D, Brigade Support Battalion in Galva, Illinois pose for a photo at 33rd Infantry, Brigade Combat Team Annual Military Ball in August 2016.
Photo Cutline 2: Capt. Kim Roeloffs, commander of Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign, Illinois and 1st Lt. Christopher Roeloffs, commander of Company D, Brigade Support Battalion in Galva, Illinois pose for a photo at 33rd Infantry, Brigade Combat Team Annual Military Ball in August 2016.