For 2-year-old Aidan Gates, “Daddy” was just a voice over the phone and a picture in a frame. He was a little more than 1 year old when his father left for a deployment in Afghanistan. Now Aidan is celebrating his father’s return home.
“This deployment [was] easier than the first one,” said Tammie Gates, wife of Maj. Ted Gates. “Having Aidan made it easier because when you have a child, you’re too busy to think about it.”
So busy, in fact, that Gates and several other military wives said they hadn’t gotten dolled up in the seven months that their husbands were away. When Bang Salon & Spa got wind of their husbands’ impending arrival, the salon offered to give the five women free make-overs at its U Street location.
Two weeks before the husbands’ recent arrival, Bang Salon stylists pampered the women with a hair wash and style while a makeup artist applied a fresh look and gave beauty tips.
“I’ve had no reason to get pretty in the past seven months,” said Sarah Ramirez, wife of Sgt. Walter Ramirez. “Being a military wife is still a new concept for me.” She and her husband were married only a few months when her husband left for Afghanistan last August.
“I [was] anxious and excited for him to come home,” said the newlywed who added that the most difficult part of the deployment was the infrequency of communication — sometimes going one month without contact.
Bang Salon’s general manager Patrick Guarniere was familiar with the challenges some military wives face and wanted to help. His former employee, Jessica Erfer, is the wife of a Marine.
“We were looking for something to do in the community and we found out her husband would be coming back soon,” said Guarniere.
Erfer gathered fellow wives whose husbands served with her husband, and organized the make-over with the salon.
“I wanted to make sure they could get as ready as possible,” said Erfer, wife of Cpl. Michael Gonan. “As military wives, sometimes we tend to forget to take care of ourselves.”
With glossed lips and shiny hair, the women chatted over cookies and pastries after their make-overs. They laughed about how they had neglected themselves by not working out.
Guarniere says the salon does four charitable events each year. He encourages the stylists to form relationships with clients and to support their needs.
“I’ve had clients for six or seven years, so you learn a lot about their lives and what their needs are,” Guarniere said.
The salon supports cancer charities, including the American Cancer Society, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
“When my husband left, Aidan was a little boy,” said Gates. “So I [kept] a picture at eye level so he [could] remember him ... We put it away now because he doesn’t need the picture. He’s got the real thing now.”