18 and Married

Shelby Ledford, Journalist

   The process of becoming a member of the U.S. Military takes a great deal of maturity, and forces young troops to grow up quickly in many ways, including marriage.

   Almost 43% of active duty members are 25 years old or younger. According to studies, male military members are more likely to get married at a young age than the civilian population. More than half are married in their early 20s.

   Numerous amounts of recruits decide to marry young with good reasons that are often misunderstood; many people tend to believe that young marriage is only going to result in an unhappy relationship and/or divorce.

   However, there are many “young love” stories involving military members that turned out to be successful, such as Michael and Tiffany Hildebrand, who are both PVHS Alumni.

   The Hildebrands met during their sophomore and junior years and maintained a strong and healthy relationship all throughout high school. Michael was recruited into the U.S. Air Force after graduating from PVHS.

   Tiffany spent the majority of her senior year apart from Michael, who at this time was away at BMT (Basic Military Training) in Texas.

   For almost 3 months, their only way of communicating was through handwritten letters or occasional phone calls.

   What several people don’t understand about military couples is how much time they have to spend away from each other, especially in the beginning. They are also unable to live together, unless they are married. These were major attributes that influenced the Hildebrands’ young marriage, aside from their strong love.

   The time spent apart can either ruin or strengthen a couple’s relationship; in Michael and Tiffany’s case, the distance somehow brought them even closer.

   Michael had the chance to return home last Christmas to be with his family, which he also used as an opportunity to surprise his high school sweetheart and propose to her.

   The two were one step closer to finally being together after so much time apart; however, it wasn’t over yet.

   Michael was still finishing up his military training, while Tiffany ended her senior year at PVHS. Unfortunately, her high school graduation was one of the many events he had to miss, but luckily their wedding was scheduled soon after.

   Throughout their entire journey, as well as a wedding and about 5 months of marriage, the Hildebrands learned many things about their lives, and each other.

   Even though their situation is misunderstood and often frowned upon, the amount of maturity, emotionally and mentally, it took the Hildebrands to overcome all of the struggles and stick together through it all at such a young age is admirable.

   They both can agree that after all the time and distance, it was totally worth it in the end.