823rd ESFS Airmen thank, appreciate the ones left behind

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nathan Carter
  • 823rd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron
(Editor's note: This is a part of the weekly submissions from the 823rd Security Forces Squadron, which is currently providing security at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.)

At the time of this writing, the 28 remaining Jesters who originally deployed with the 823rd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron have been on the ground for more than 90 days at Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport supporting Operation Unified Responses, providing a safe and secure environment for relief agencies and sister services to distribute aid to the people of Haiti.

As one of the first Jesters on the ground, I have seen our mission from its inception to its closing days. As I sit here and think about this mission past, present and future, I also think of my wife and young son back home waiting for my return.

All too often, people forget about the spouses and the children who are left behind and I want to personally thank them for their sacrifices for this unit and our country.

Many will tell you that the hardest job in the military is that of the military spouse. I whole-heartedly believe this to be true. While servicemembers took an oath and signed the dotted line when they joined the military to defend this great country, spouses also enlisted through the the vows they took on their wedding day.

Spouses have their jobs and daily household responsibilities, but when a military member deploys, the spouse's responsibilities double. They continue to have their normal responsibilities, but take on the additional obligations their deployed spouse normally handles as well as becoming the sole caregiver for the children.

Whether it is mowing the lawn, paying the bills or spending much-needed time with young children, these responsibilities still have to be fulfilled.

If the deployed spouse is in a location where communication is limited to only a phone call every few days or few-and-far-between personal letters in the mail, simple questions like "Where is the weed-eater string?" or "Where did the charger for the cordless drill go?" can make handling all the responsibilities a little tougher and more time-consuming. There are so many other things to accomplish on the home front.

As days go by and daily routines get established, the daily chores and duties get easier again, but what of the children? How do they feel when their mother or father left for a long deployment? As a father of a 2-year-old, I have some notion of how he feels and what thoughts might run through his little mind.
My wife tells me he asks for "daddy" continually. I know this question, among others, can add to the emotional stress and responsibilities for my wife at home.

What does a spouse do to occupy the child's time normally spent with the deployed member? Some make special trips to the park for some extra play time or spend time helping the children color pictures to send to their deployed family member.

At the right age, getting them involved in sports is a productive way to keep them occupied. Whatever the method, parents can only hope that it makes the time separated go by that much faster until that deployed member returns.

As the deployment comes to a close, tension around the home will heighten once again. To the spouse, things have to be perfect for when the deployed member gets home.

Making sure the house is spotless, the cars washed, lawn mowed, refrigerator stocked, dog groomed, fresh haircuts and new outfits purchased, anything can easily shake up the daily routine that was established. All of this is a selfless effort to make the transition as smooth as possible for the entire family when the servicemember returns home.

In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the Friday before Mother's Day (this year it is May 9) to be designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Our spouses serve beside those of us in uniform, selflessly relocating our homes and assuming new responsibilities at each assignment.

They understand our long hours, exercises and deployments, and give us unending support and strength to drive on when duty calls.

For the "Mighty 28" here in Haiti, we think it's important to recognize the challenges our families have faced while we've been gone, and let them know how much we appreciate and value what it is they do each and every day so that we can concentrate on what needs to be done here.

So, the next time you thank an Airman, Soldier, Marine, or Sailor for their service, thank their spouse as well.