FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan – On Dec. 26, Spc. Brendon Brown stepped off his Stryker at Combat Outpost Talukan, looking for a familiar face.
After talking to a few soldiers on the COP, he made his way to a group of parked Strykers.
Out of one of the top hatches of a Mobile Gun System Stryker popped a petite redhead. She diligently climbed off the Stryker and into the arms of Brown, her husband.
If it weren’t for him being on the Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division) commander’s personal security detachment, Brown might never have seen his wife, Spc. Stacia Brown, a preventative medicine specialist, during the deployment, he said.
The couple, who married in Sept. 2010, met in an airport in Korea when they were on their way to their first duty stations after graduating from Advanced Individual Training, which is where soldiers learn their specific military jobs.
Since being married, this is their first deployment together.
Being able to see each other during deployment is a welcomed experience for both soldiers.
“It definitely gives me something to look forward to,” said Brendon, explaining that the little chances he gets to talk to his wife remind him he’s still a husband, not just a soldier.
Stacia said her reaction when she gets to see her husband is always the same.
“I see him and I always jump on him almost every single time,” said Stacia. “It’s kind of overwhelming.”
Two months into the deployment, the couple has been able to see each other at least once a month, but there is never a guarantee that that pattern will continue throughout the next seven months.
Having each other in the same time zone is comforting for the couple, however, that means they are both in a combat zone as well.
“I think it makes it a little bit worse than him being home, because he’s in immediate danger too and knowing that kind of makes it a little more stressful,” said Stacia.
Brendon said he feels a similar worry about his spouse.
“It’s stressful knowing she’s in a danger zone, and I’m not there to make sure she’s OK and protect her like a husband’s supposed to,” he said.
In preparation for the deployment, the Browns had to leave behind their only son, Gauge, with Stacia’s family.
Gauge was born prematurely nearly a year after Brendon and Stacia married. Now, a year later, they both missed their son’s first birthday, Dec. 21. In an effort to cope, they lean on each other for support and do whatever they can to stay close.
The Browns said they try to talk every night, whether it is through video chat or email.
Communicating daily is one of the pieces of advice Stacia gives to other couples who are deployed, but not in the same area.
“Stay focused, but definitely take advantage of your amenities,” she said. “If you do have the Internet, you know, whenever you do have your time to yourself, do check it because you are on the same time and everything.”
“Even if he’s not on, I always leave him a message letting him know that I’m OK and he does the same thing too,” she added.
Communication is one of Brendon’s top three things he said are needed for dual military couples deployed together. The other two things are trust and understanding.
The Browns have a good understanding, said Brendon.
“It’s the understanding that we have something that takes priority over our marriage right now and that’s our job,” he said.
That advice resonates for at least four couples in Brendon’s company alone who are toughing out a deployment whether they’re on the same base as their spouse or in different provinces.