News: Army couple shares Afghanistan deployment
KABUL, Afghanistan - Ana and Brandon Salah, a married couple deployed out of I Corps, Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash., are sharing their Afghanistan experience.
When asked what they miss during a deployment, most married service members start the list with their spouse. When Sgt. Ana Salah is asked, her husband not only doesn’t top the list - he doesn’t even get mentioned.
This isn’t an insult to Brandon, a staff sergeant and her husband of one year. It is because while most couples are separated by deployments, the Salahs are serving in Afghanistan together.
The two California natives met while on a previous deployment. Both were assigned to I Corps out of Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash., serving in Iraq.
“We got to know each other in Iraq in 2009, then started dating when we got back home,” said Ana.
The two non-commissioned officers received orders to deploy from Lewis-McCord about one month apart.
“When I got my orders we started accepting that we’d be apart for at least a year,” said Brandon. “Then Ana got her orders and we realized that probably wouldn’t be as big an issue as we thought.”
Now the couple is stationed together on New Kabul Compound, one of several military outposts located in the city. They both arrived in June and are assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan – Ana as administrative non-commissioned oficer, and Brandon as a member of the combat drive team.
“There’s a lot of work to do here but it’s good,” said Ana, who handles personnel issues for the unit. “Keeping busy makes the days go by faster.”
The only part of their busy schedule that she does not like is Brandon’s many trips in to the city. As a member of the drive team, he often travels from compound to compound, exposing himself to potential danger.
“I worry when I know he’s on the road all day,” she said, “but he’s careful and he’s good at his job, so I trust that he will make is back safe.”
For Brandon, deploying as half of a couple has been a challenge and a change. “In past deployments I only thought about the mission and my soldiers,” he said. “If I wanted to do something, I just went.
“For example, there was an attack here in September and, as an infantryman, my instinct was to grab my gear and get out there. It wasn’t until I was outside I thought about it and realized my wife would probably want to know what I was doing.”
Parents of four children (Jacob and Chad, 9, Ben, 6, and Roland, 3), being apart from their sons is easily the most difficult part of the deployment for both Ana and Brandon.
“We miss them a lot,” said Brandon. “You miss the little things like coming home and eating dinner together, and all the activity and noise a houseful of boys makes.”
“We tell them that it's part of our job to go and help other people,” added Ana. “They ask sometimes when we are coming home and tell us that they miss us. Of course, we miss them too. I think the older ones understand more now, but it's still hard for all of them. The little one is just enjoying time with grandma and grandpa.”
For Brandon, the difficulty of separation from their kids is made easier by his wife’s presence.
When he first learned they would both deploy, he said his reaction was, “Great. This should be really fun and give us some time for us.”
Now, six months into their deployment, they agree that being here together has made all the difference.
“Everybody here who is married always talks about how much they miss their wife or husband, and how they can’t wait to get home,” said Ana. “We can’t wait to get home too, but having [Brandon] here makes a tough situation a lot better.”
They are now planning their mid-tour leaves. They are working with a select few brothers and sisters to surprise their sons (the kids are currently staying with family in California) and the rest of their families over the New Year’s Day holiday.
Then it will be back to Kabul and back to work. Regardless of what the deployment brings, the Salahs say they are glad they will face it together.
“Having my wife here has made this deployment so much better because I have someone that I can talk to every day about anything,” said Brandon. “I have my best friend here and I know no matter what happens she is there for me.”
Date Posted:12.29.2011 04:27
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