News: Coping with deployment: Midpoint becomes endpoint
Story by Andrea Stone
FORT CARSON, Colo. - For some family members, the midpoint of a deployment can mark the stage when they’re finally finding their rhythm, adjusting to life without their soldier. For others, the middle can be the time that seems to drag by endlessly.
But for spouses Jamie Pierce and Ali Detamore, the midway point marked the surprise almost-over point for their husbands’ deployments, a deployment that was cut from nine months to about six.
Learning new skills
He’s three for three, but it’s not a positive record. Every time Sgt. Brad Pierce, Forward Support Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, has deployed, he’s lost someone in his family.
“(I) found out his aunt passed away, and he was really close to her. When he called, I had to tell him,” Jamie Pierce said. “The first (death) was his grandmother on his dad’s side, and the second one was his grandmother on his mom’s side. She passed away literally when he was en route to Iraq, and then this time, it’s his aunt. It was really unexpected.”
Normally, he wouldn’t have been able to return, but because his unit was already leaving early, he was able to come back Nov. 4.
“I kind of feel bad, and Brad does too, because there’s people there who lost their grandparents early on, and, of course, they couldn’t go home,” she said.
Even with the deployment cut short, there have been challenges. This is the couple’s first deployment with a baby. Tristan turns 1 next month.
“The other night, Tristan woke up at midnight,” Jamie Pierce said. “My throat hurt so bad. I didn’t feel good, and I couldn’t get him to go back to sleep. I was tired, and then I wake up the next morning, and I can’t swallow. That’s one of the times when I was thinking, I wish Brad was here right now.”
This is also the first deployment Jamie Pierce has not gone home to be with family.
“I feel accomplished that I’ve made it through on my own,” she said. “I thought this was going to be the hardest deployment since we had (Tristan). It’s been the easiest. Time has flown by. I guess because he keeps me so busy. It’s probably been the hardest on Brad though. The easiest on me, but the hardest on him.”
Because she’s chosen to stay at Fort Carson, she’s had to learn to do things she might not have otherwise done. When her husband bought a new Jeep, he asked her to pull the battery out.
“He said, ‘Just ask the neighbor,’ and I (said), ‘No. I don’t need a man. I can do this,’” she said. “(Previous deployments) I went home. So if I had any issues, I’m like, ‘Dad, I need my tire aired up.’ You don’t really think about what you would have to do if you were on your own.”
Staying here has made her appreciate her Army friendships more.
“I have so many good friends here, and everyone’s going through the same thing, so it’s made it a little more bearable,” she said.
Facing a deployment without extended family nearby isn’t for everyone, though.
With her fourth child born less than two months into the deployment, Ali Detamore was feeling overwhelmed.
“I wasn’t quite sure how to cope with things yet,” she said. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot this last year, but at the same time, I still feel like a rookie Army wife because there’s just so much you don’t even understand.”
She decided to go home to Indiana for a few months while she waited for her husband, Pfc. Joel Detamore, FSC, 4th Engineer Battalion, to return.
“It was really good. It was nice to have help with the baby,” she said.
While she had extra help with her children, she still missed the support of Army friends.
“I almost felt like the support system I had here was better because we just know how to take care of each other,” she said. “I kind of knew that, but it didn’t really sink in. Everybody understands it so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed.”
This is the couple’s first deployment and, even though she had some idea what to expect, it’s still been a challenge.
“You know in your head (what to expect), but it’s like getting married or having a kid. You can read about it, but it doesn’t make it real,” she said.
Ali Detamore had only been back at Fort Carson for a few weeks when she found out the deployment was ending months earlier than expected.
“It’s funny because I felt like I’m just kind of getting in the swing of things, and I’m not wanting to die every day. And then he (says), ‘Oh, we’re coming home.’ I’m (excited), but at the same time, I almost feel guilty because I feel like all these other wives who went through all these long deployments, and I get excited that my husband’s got cut short. It’s hard. You don’t want to be too excited because you don’t want to make anybody upset,” she said.
Even with a shorter deployment, he’ll be coming home to some changes. Ali Detamore started a new diet with no dairy, wheat or refined sugar.
“I told him there is no refined sugar in the house, and he said, ‘Well, what am I supposed to put on my Honey Bunches of Oats?’ I said, ‘There aren’t any of those either,’” she said.
With only weeks to go, Ali Detamore is ecstatic, counting down the days.
“It’s close, but it’s still really far,” she said.
“I told Joel, ‘I’m going to be really excited to see you, but please don’t take this the wrong way. It’s going to be so great to have help again, somebody to hold the baby so I can make dinner without hearing crying,” she said. “The last few nights, both the boys have been crying at the same time. You just have to keep telling yourself, it’ll end.”