CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Leaving behind a spouse for a year or more is one of the most challenging and grueling aspects of being deployed for married members in the military.
The promise of returning home, however, and seeing a partner's face again is what helps motivate those in combat to see their mission through.
For two Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Anthony Garcia and Spc. Katherine Garcia, the strain of separation felt by so many others is relieved by two simple facts; they are married and are both assigned to the same brigade while deployed in Iraq.
The couple is part of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and being deployed is almost a blessing in disguise for both, as it means they can share the trials and tribulations of a year in Iraq together.
The couple realizes they are fortunate to be in a position so many others are not, said Anthony Garcia, from Nixon, Texas, the production control non-commissioned officer in charge, Company B, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., Multi-National Division—Baghdad, shortly before a re-enlistment ceremony for he and his wife.
"We have been in the Cav for six years and deployed three times with them," Anthony said, having spent all six years with the 615th ASB. "This is our first deployment as a couple, as we were married in March of 2008 — we are lucky to be together."
Katherine Garcia, from Lancaster, Calif., a supply room clerk, Co. D, 3rd Bn., 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., said the frequent deployments have made the pair very familiar with Iraq.
"This is like another home to us; so very little has changed in our everyday routine," Katherine said.
Anthony also explained that married life has remained relatively unchanged since the start of their current deployment.
"The bills are still there," Katherine chimed in with a grin.
Being close to his wife while in Iraq means a better attitude and improved job performance, Anthony said.
"It's far less stressful than being apart and we are both thankful things have worked out for us," Anthony explained,
The couples reenlistment, June 4, ensured the couple will head to their next duty station together, Fort Campbell, Ky., which they specifically requested.
"My little brother is the reason we decided to choose Fort Campbell," Katherine said. "He has been stationed in Hawaii and just got back from Iraq as an infantryman, so I thought it would be nice to be close."
The couple belongs to the Married Army Couples Program, said Anthony, a program designed to help married couples relocate together.
"With the program's help I re-enlisted for where I wanted to go and they found an open slot for my wife there also," Anthony said.
If there had not been a slot for Katherine they would have stayed at Fort Hood, rather than separate. So far everything has fallen into place for the pair, Anthony said.
"We are just trying to go someplace else and see different stuff," Anthony continued. "Last time we re-enlisted for stabilization and so far haven't had any problems staying together."
Attending the reenlistment ceremony for the Garcia's was Maj. Marcus Gengler, commander, Co. B, 615th ASB, 1st ACB, who viewed the re-enlistment as a positive move for the couple in making the Army a career.
"For them to stay together in this adventure is very exciting to see," Gengler said. "I think the Army realizes one of its most valuable assets in our formation is the families, whether it is the families we leave behind or the ones that deploy with us."
The Army cannot always accommodate everyone, but it does what it can for married couples, Gengler said.
"The Army obviously did help this married couple stay together and serve the military," Gengler continued. "I can't imagine what it must be like to have your spouse with you in a war zone. I definitely wouldn't want my wife here."
The Garcia's, however, are content with their situation — the only thing missed by both being their dog.
"I know she misses us too," Katherine said of her canine family member. "She stopped eating before we deployed and we left her with a friend who is also in the military but did not deploy this time around."
But the couple has plenty to look forward to once this deployment ends and will try to move to Fort Campbell as soon as they arrive back in Texas.
"We might have to wait 90 days or whenever our command tells us we can go, but hopefully it won't take long," Anthony said.
Until then they have the rest of the deployment to spend as a married couple, something which suits Katherine well.
"It's because we're together," she said.
Something which makes being deployed seem that much easier.
This work, Married couple share deployment side by side, by Alun Thomas, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.