CAMP TAJI, IRAQ
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – “Having him deployed is very emotional for me, I’m so used to having him around, and he normally helps with our son [two-year-old Julian Verduzco] and helps around the house,” said Kendy Verduzco, wife of Spc. Rosario Verduzco who is deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq, with the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade. “So, having him away, it’s really hard. I know when I see him on the unit’s Facebook page, I always get super emotional and when I see his pictures there, I just tear up.”
When people think of those who serve our country, they often think of soldiers in uniform, but seldom think about the spouses, children and other family members that those service members leave behind when they deploy.
“It’s our first deployment together, but we’ve been together ever since he joined the military, so this deployment is kind of like when he has to go away for training every year, it really doesn’t feel like he’s half a world away, except I can’t go and see him when he’s done for the day,” said Brisa Frost, wife of Spc. Jason Frost who also is deployed to Camp Taji with the 40th CAB. “But during those training events he didn’t have Skype, and he didn’t have good cell phone reception, so we actually talk more with him there [in Iraq] than we did when he was training back home. The only time it’s really difficult is at night, but that’s mainly because of the baby (newborn Margaret Frost).”
Deployed soldiers deal with stress on a daily basis, but the families back home go through just as much, if not more, stress than the soldiers themselves.
“This is my fifth deployment in 20 years, but it’s my first deployment as a married person. There are a lot more stresses that are involved when you are leaving your family behind, and we’re finding those out as we go along,” said Capt. Yusef Parker, a nightshift battle captain who is deployed to Camp Taji with the 40th CAB. “It’s another hurdle we have to overcome as a family, and I think we are doing just fine.”
The families of the 40th CAB are helping themselves and their soldiers alleviate stress by finding ways to send a piece of home to their deployed soldier.
“The family sends me care packages; the first one they sent was very emotional, on the inside flaps of the box, my kids and wife each drew pictures there and colored it. I ended up cutting the pictures out and now have them on the wall along with the picture of the family they sent me,” said Parker. “This last one I just received had a bunch of letters from my daughter’s 3rd grade class, and she insisted I read hers last. Hers was very emotional because some of the things she said. Also, a lot of her friends said she’s sad some days because her dad’s away, but she can’t wait for me to get home so we can go to Hawaii.”
“Of all the things that my family does to stay in contact, I have to say my favorite thing to receive is the hand-written letters; they are just so personal,” said Spc. Adrienne Thomas, paralegal specialist with the 40th CAB. “It shows that they took the time out of their day to sit down and handwrite that letter; it just means much more to me than an email; because, you can e-mail anybody, including your bank, but a letter shows a level of caring that emails don’t.”
The 40th CAB soldiers have passed the halfway point in their deployment to Iraq. Some of the soldiers have already gone on their two weeks of R&R leave and others are still looking foreword to it.
“He’s already come home for his leave, and while he was here, he got to see the birth of our child [Margaret],” said Brisa. “But when he got home we just picked up and carried on like he never left, the only real big change was that we were in a new apartment and our car broke down. It was exactly like life before, except we now have a baby.”
“There is no way to prepare yourself completely for a deployment, until you’re in that situation,” said Kendy. “You just have to make the best of it and know people change through the experience. I just can’t wait ‘til he comes back home, I’m so proud of him and what he does.”
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This work, Families serve along with deployed soldiers, by Darriel Swatts, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.