Living and working in Wiesbaden and traveling throughout Europe has literally been a dream come true.
As a lifelong Navy brat, I’ve lived many places with my family — but never abroad, on my own, for more than a few months. For me, it has always been the ultimate challenge: to adapt, maybe even thrive, in a foreign culture.
I got my chance after working at IMCOM Headquarters in San Antonio for a few years. My seasoned colleagues urged me to get what they called “garrison experience.”
Furthermore, I suddenly and traumatically lost someone very close to me. It was the kind of event that makes you want to live your best life immediately. So when the opportunity to work not only at a garrison, but one overseas arose, I jumped — and was lucky enough to land here, at the award-winning U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office.
I arrived on a typical German winter day with my cat, an overstuffed suitcase and pitifully insufficient shoes for winter. Despite the bitterly cold weather, my reception at the garrison PAO was the direct opposite: warm, bright and promising.
What a ride it’s been. From sipping Riesling in the vineyards of Hochheim, to watching flamenco dancers stomp out a song right in front of me in Barcelona, to walking the same footsteps as Romans centuries ago, Europe has exhilarated me.
Work was an adventure, too. Witnessing the jaegerschlag, or “knighting” of newly-minted hunters in the community, and capturing the joy on children’s faces when Soldiers brought them Christmas presents in the hospital, were just a few of the highlights.
And what my seasoned colleagues meant by “garrison experience,” as I’ve come to learn, is working with a close-knit team of dedicated professionals who care deeply about providing a home for Soldiers and Families, first and foremost.
In almost two years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting some of the most interesting, hard-working, kind and talented people with all sorts of roles: Soldier, Civilian, Spouse, Veteran, Local National and even “military brats” like me. Every single one has taught me something invaluable about what it means to be a part of this Army family, especially over here. Relationships matter.
Not long ago, I added another name to my treasure chest of relationships: fiancé. It’s time for me to embark on the greatest adventure of all. Side note: Spouses, I am in awe of you. Out of all the roles, this one will be quite hard to live up to.
So, Wiesbaden: I owe you a huge danke schön for the lessons, memories and the help when I needed it (which was often). Travel far and often, and I hope our paths cross again. In the words of my favorite German DJ: Tschüssadoo!
(Editor’s note: Shayna Brouker will be sorely missed. The Public Affairs Office thanks her for two years of hardwork, tight deadlines and great memories. Auf wiedersehen, Shayna).