Soldiers and families say deployment never gets easier

Fort Sill_Some spouses of deployed Fort Sill soldiers say it's tough moving through life alone while their husband or wife is away - especially when they have children.  More than 90 Fort Sill soldiers said goodbye to their families on Monday as they headed off to Iraq.  For some, it's their second or even third tour.

The soldiers of Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 5th Artillery say that while each deployment becomes easier as they become more familiar with what to expect, they say it never gets easier to leave their families behind.  So, they're recruiting other family members to help while their soldier is away from home.  "I'm not glad that he's going at all, but he signed up wanting to go, so he's doing what he wants," said C. Beck, whose son is deploying.  "I stand behind him for that."

For families left behind, the next year may prove to be a juggling act as they balance work, childcare, and stress about their deployed loved one.  It can often feel like too much stress for one person to handle.  One soldier's mother moved all the way from Florida to help her daughter-in-law.  "It's such a hard time," she said.  "She's got two other children under four years old, so she's got three babies on the floor.  I came up here - I moved up here - to help her take care of the babies."

Although it isn't Specialist Nicholas Andrade's first tour, he says it's much harder for him this time than last since the birth of his son.  "Oh I'll definitely miss my family," he said.  "[On my] first one [tour], I didn't have him, so, definitely, I'll miss him."  Andrade's wife Heather said she already has made arrangements with her family to help with the baby while he is away.  "I've got family moving here from Florida, so they're going to help out a lot," she said.

The soldiers will be in Iraq for one year, so they'll be missing holidays and birthdays, but Heather said she doesn't intend for Nicholas to miss much.  The family plans on using both email and MySpace correspondence to keep up with important milestones.  "We upgraded our camera, so we got a new camera and video camera," she said.