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June 7, 2011

We WILL Survive Deployment

by K. Tsetsi

–Submitted by Pam Horton

“Oh my God, Jim, it’s a red message.” I absolutely hate getting these. As the parents of a deployed soldier we know that an email entitled “red message” means that our son’s battalion has lost another soldier, KIA (Killed In Action).

We read the message, hoping it is not a name we recognize, someone who is close to our son. Whew–it’s someone from another company. We breathe a sigh of relief, and with great sadness, we say a prayer for the family of the deceased hero. A family has lost their son/husband/father. Unfortunately, it happens all too often.

Memorial Day was just last week, and I refused to watch any of the many touching videos that were posted on FaceBook, or the commercials on TV. As an Army Brat (my dad was 20 years Army) I learned that I don’t like to cry. It gives me a headache and I am not a cute little boo-hoo crier. When I cry, I wrinkle up my face and sob. So, I avoid crying at all costs. My friends tease me that a day will come. I can only pray that when the flood gates open it is with tears of joy, rather than tears of sadness. I almost lost the tear battle when on my Facebook page appeared a posting from my son’s company that they had posted pictures. I was SO excited to think I might catch a glimpse of the soldier I hadn’t seen since early December. I scoured the pictures, even zoomed them in as much as possible before they started to become blurry. Nope, my boy was not in any of the photos. I was not depressed by this, though, as I know they have a couple hundred guys and everybody is hoping to see their loved one. I continue to have hope that maybe next month they will post pictures, and maybe next month I can see my soldier in them.

The next day my son had the chance to call home!! HOOAH! It is always so nice when we get the chance to hear his voice. “Son, how are you feeling? You alright?” “Yes mom, I’m just tired.” “You sound it!” Our soldier is on a remote combat outpost and they are either busy to the point of exhaustion, or b-o-r-e-d. There isn’t much to do when they aren’t working. Other families get to video message with their soldiers, but these guys don’t have enough bandwidth (or something), so they can’t get a video connection. It was so frustrating when we tried it the first few times that we just quit trying. We are satisfied with the occasional Facebook message (or the coveted “chat” – LOVE those). I don’t even need to hear from him directly. I am happy to see he posted something on someone else’s page. It means he’s still alive.

Being on a remote post means there is no store. Oh, the money we have spent on filling & shipping packages! We (along with my DAR chapter & family members – thank you to all) have willingly taken on what I call “Support A Squad”. We mail enough of whatever we are sending for ten guys. These soldiers may get an opportunity to go to a larger post every once in a while, but when they run out of toothpaste or deodorant – they’re out, until the next time they can get to that bigger base. It’s not like they can run down to WalMart and pick up what they need. We send a least one box a week with toiletry needs, snack food, foot powder, sun block, magazines, movies – and we try to send things they might request, something to keep their spirits up.

This is just me, speaking as a mom of a single soldier. Just a look into how we are dealing with deployment, the thoughts that go through my mind, the craziness I sometimes feel. I continue to pray without ceasing that the “knock on the door” never comes. I look forward, with great expectation, to the joy I will feel seeing my soldier, my son, arrive safely back on American soil.

Please visit on Facebook and “Like” it for TIME.

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