From the Mailbag

I received a question from a Navy wife.

Hi Andi, I just stumbled on the Spousebuzz Blog today and I think it’s great! I’m a Navy wife of 7 years dealing with my husband’s selection for an IA.  Has there been much discussion in the blogosphere or your blog about other Navy wives dealing with IA’s?  I’ve been through a few deployments with my husband, however, those were on ships and this IA business is a whole different world to me.  I am just curious as to if there are other Navy wives discussing this IA program and how they are dealing with it.  I know the Navy has recently set up a hotline, which is at least something.

Being an Army wife, I wasn’t sure what IA was, so I checked with a Navy wife who explained:

IA is "Individual Augmentees." It’s where the sailor is mobilized (in the case of reserves) and deployed, or just deployed (in the case of active duty) on his/her own away from his unit and usually given over to another branch. My husband’s unit does this all the time since he does intel. Everyone in his unit gets IA orders to go to the Army. So in the case of a reservist, this means a long deployment– the current IA orders for my husband’s unit to Iraq are at least 15 months, because they need to go to "Army school" to learn army things– like how to shoot a gun, carry a pack, defend themselves, etc.

Earlier this year, Stars & Stripes delved into this topic. 

Sailors know the walk, when it’s from stem to stern. It’s the walking in formation that has some feeling like fish out of water.

With more than 10,000 Navy “individual augmentees” deployed around the world, of which 7,000 are in the U.S. Central Command’s combat zones, the Navy is training its sailors like soldiers more than ever before.

“You take a sailor … who has lived on a 564-foot ship, and all of a sudden, you’re integrating him into a ground combat environment. It’s night and day for us,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Anthony Evangelista, fleet master chief for U.S. Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet.

"Night and day," for sure.

The hotline for questions with respect to IA can be found hereThere is a lot of information on the web about IAs, but I’d bet this wife would be more interested in reading about your personal experience with IA. From the spouse perspective, deployment is stressful enough, but add to it the strange fact that your sailor is suddenly a soldier, the unknowns of how another branch of service operates, not knowing anyone in your spouse’s new unit and, well, you can imagine the anxiety that the spouse must be dealing with.

Any Navy spouses out there who can offer some advice, or share their IA experience with the wife who is about to deal with this? As she wrote in her email, "this IA business is a whole different world to me."

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • US Navy Wife

    My husband is on IA orders right now. As far as the deployment goes… imagine the last deployment without spouse group support. He’s been gone 6 weeks now and I have yet to hear from anyone at his command. (I did get invited to the Christmas party held by the Marine unit he’s attached to — in San Diego! — I’m in Texas.)
    As soon as you know what unit your husband is attached to, find the volunteer network contact and give them your email address. I’ve received a few newsletters, so I feel like I’m not completely isolated.
    Good luck to you!

  • navy wife

    My husband recently recieved IA orders. He hasn’t left yet, but I walked into the family service center on our base and there was a person specifically in charge of IA issues. Go to your FSC and make sure they have an email address for you and phone numbers. The ombudsman at your husband’s original command should be your point of contact. They should be able to hook you up with any family support groups within your command and I’ve heard some FSCs have support groups specifically for IA spouses. Good luck!

  • melissa

    my husband left for IA in november. and like most this is NOT our first deployment; but first IA. This is way different. I went to our ships meeting the other day. and i have nothing in common with the navy wives any more. i feel like IAs and spouses fall through the cracks. Does any one else feel like that????????

  • Jennifer R in VA

    My hubby’s on an IA in Baghdad (after 4 “regular” Navy deployments) for approximately 10 months following 5½ months training. The downside has been the lack of other spouses who are going thru the same things at the same time you are. I have been attending the FSC IA Support Group meetings monthly at our base which are great, but even then the guys are all at different points in their IA orders. The upside has been great communication, email has been so much better than ship deployments and we can even Skype with a webcam sometimes (and the increased pay of course!). I’m sure the quality of communications is different for everybody depending on the location of the IA. I’ve just stayed super busy & taken it a day at a time.
    Good luck & hugs to you!

  • Concerned Navy Wife

    Hi Ladies! I know how you feel. My husband has been in the Navy for 13 years and served on many ships. Now they are sending him on the ground with the Army. They have put him through Army training, given him body armor and weapons. I think all of us in this stuation feel the same, concerned! I know that the Army and Marines do this all the time but this is very new to us as Navy wives. I don’t have a support center anywhere near me so my support comes from within myself. I’m in school and currently doing a research paper on this topic. I want to know why this is happening and how many more of our Sailors are they planning on sticking on the ground and out of their element. I would love to hear from all of you in this situation. Not for my research paper but I think we should create our own support group where we can talk freely about our feelings and help each other get through this difficult time. If any of you are interested in developing our own group for IA support please let me know by sending an email to Maybe if we come together we all won’t feel so alone in this. Good luck to all and God Bless the US and the soldiers protecting it!