Does it ever get easier?
A lot of the questions I get after being in the Army for 15 years are “how can you leave your children?” I must admit this is one to ponder because there are no real wrong answers for this.
How can I? Well first of all, because I have to. Of my 3 children, only one have I deployed from for an extended period of time. I have deployed twice away from Abby, once for 12 months, and once for 15 months. Each time was hard, but the first time was the worst. She was just over a year old and learning so many new things that I knew I would miss. I came home on mid tour leave and my daughter would have nothing to do with me for the first hour. I was upset, and went into her room. I will never forget that I was sitting in her rocker, rocking, when she came in. The recognition in her eyes when she said mommy truly blew me away. She ran up to me, hugged me, and was by my side the entire time I was home. That’s what keeps us going. Those memories are what we have to hold on to while we are away. The second time she was 4 years old and it wasn’t as hard because I wasn’t the center of her world anymore. I was just another person for her to tell her stories to. She was such a character then and even today, it never ceases to amaze me.
The question I had to ask myself, more than once, was “Would it be worth it?” To me, I am fiercely proud to be a Soldier and an American. Of the average American, less than one percent are or have been part of the Armed forces. Whether or not you agree with the politics of the government, we as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are working to protect the freedoms that were hard won. I like the freedoms that our country provides, and when it’s threatened, someone has to protect it, someone has to go, why not me?
The first month of deployment is hard. You miss you kids, your spouse and your life back home. On deployments your time is monitored and used in ways that you probably never expected. It becomes easier to be away because depending upon your mission, you just don’t’ have the time to be sad or miss your family. This is not to say that you don’t, but every single day that you are gone, your life, as well as your Soldiers to the left and right, are potentially in danger. This becomes priority one and well, everything else has to wait.
There are days, weeks where you find time on your hands, but as long as you stay in some kind of continuous contact back home, it doesn’t become debilitating. There are so many things that can happen to change that outcome, but we can only hope for the best.
I called, wrote, and thankfully through the use of the internet, stayed in contact as much as possible. I cherished the videos and pictures that were sent to me. They were all over my wall. I found that surrounding myself with my family helped, especially when there were days that were the worst of the worst. Deployments are hard, truly hard for us and I have discovered that through resilience and training, that people can survive almost anything.
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