Over the last couple of decades, almost three million service members have served on more than five million deployments across the world. Currently, about 170,000 of the US military active-duty personnel are serving outside the United States and its territories, having left their families behind for an unknown amount of time.
For those women whose husbands have been deployed at least once, the feeling of loneliness is something they are experiencing on a daily basis. When they have to bring up their children alone, deal with anything- from minor to major family crises- on their own, or when they hate weekends because they envy other families that do things together and they are missing the good old times. When they crumble and get emotional or cry over anything, anywhere, and are treated like spoilsports who just can’t handle the situation.
That’s how Amy Reed, 24, of Central Florida, was feeling when her soldier husband was deployed in Afghanistan. She was very vulnerable, lonely and at the same time bringing up their toddler daughter, while he was on a mission. That October she knew he was about to come back home- only she didn’t know when.
Her father arranged everything behind her back so he could surprise her, and on one October evening, he gave her the best gift she could ask for. As per their weekly habit, Amy’s family went to Eustis Chick-Fil-A for dinner. According to the Reeds family, Tuesday family dinners helped Amy survive her husband, Chris’, third deployment.
While they were sitting there waiting for their order, which was supposed to be delivered by one of the waiters, Amy saw her husband walking towards her with the tray in his hands. Amy screamed so hard and got so emotional that the whole place burst into applause and customers couldn’t hold back their tears.
“I was in shock,” Amy confessed later on during an interview. “I was so speechless I was just screaming.” By then, she thought she was dreaming. “I thought, if I screamed, then I would wake up!”
Things for this Florida couple worked out pretty smoothly it seems. After three deployments, Chris Reed and his family were transferred to Missouri and after army life was over they could get back to their normal lives in Central Florida, where they come from.
Although this couple was happily reunited and returned to what can be called “normality”, let’s not forget that military trauma affects both sides, the deployed soldier and their family, often causing mental health problems to either. According to research, 20% of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan experience acute stress, depression, and/or anxiety, while children in military families tend to feel sad or hopeless, and nearly 25% of them reported that they have considered attempting suicide.
Let’s not forget about the people sacrificing their lives or part of them for our country and let’s keep in mind that both them and their families need support and encouragement to keep going.
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