Wives of senior naval officers said that one major reason for the Navy's pilot shortage is the changed-value system shared by young military wives.

They reject the traditional notion that the family should sacrifice its interests, including the wife's job in an interesting city, to advance the officer's career.

Vicki Bonnano, 30, wife of Lt. Cmdr. Sammy Bonnano, is a University of Wisconsin graduate, former Navy ensign, Virginia Beach real estate agent and mother of two children.

Her view of Navy life is shared by many young military wives:

"We started talking about Sammy getting out of the Navy after he got to VF43 in Oceana . If Sammy went on five more cruises, the Navy would be better, but what about his family? Who is he more important to? We obviously feel he is more important to us.

"Two years ago, I might have said the Navy is the only way to go because he is so completely satisfied in his job. We only had one child, and he was much younger, and Sammy being gone had not started to affect him. But now our little boy is older 5 and it's starting to affect him. And we've got another new one now.

"The separations are the biggest thing that bothers me. When he was at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk , he was home every night. And we had never had that before. It seems strange to think that was the first time he could come every night from work. But all his other jobs, even shore duty, he had always been gone all the time.

"He'd be home for three weeks; he'd be gone for three weeks. There was alway a det detached duty . There was always a carrier qual qualification which took him out to the boat. There was workups for cruises.

"For those six months when he came home every night from the staff college, I all of a sudden realized that normal people aren't separated all the time. Normal people don't have to do this. And it was fun. I've really looked forward to have my husband come home every night and to having him here on the weekends. So when it's time for him to go away again, it really hurts.

"If the Navy could figure out a way to not make those cruises so long, to make them not so unbearable, it might make a difference. And the workups beforehand, where it's nothing for them to go out for three months at a time. We've had friends who have gone on cruises for seven months and been extended out there for nine months.

"Once they tell you it's going to be so long, and then you sit there with your fingers crossed because you don't know if it's really only going to be seven months. You count the days; you even count the hours.

"But they never shorten the cruises. They only make them longer. They told us years ago that cruises would be no more than five months; no more than six months. They didn't do it then, and they're not going to do it now. They've lost their credibility with me."