Story by 2nd Lt. Gregory Maull
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – The hardest part of being deployed is not only the extreme weather or long hours. Often, it is being away from home, friends, and Family.
Leaving behind a spouse for a yearlong deployment can be one of the most challenging aspects married couples face.
Time apart from a civilian or military spouse can be emotionally challenging for both parties. In today’s military, there are a growing number of dual military couples where both spouses serve, leading to some unique challenges and hardships during deployments.
With the Married Army Couples Program, which helps place married servicemembers in proximal units, some couples have the advantage of deploying together.
Inside the 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, there are several examples of this unique status. Three dual military couples within “Dragoon Troop” either have spouses on the installation they are on or deployed to Afghanistan.
Pfcs. Donald and Kristina Schmit, a cavalry scout assigned to Headquarters Troop and a signal support systems specialist assigned to Troop D respectively, are stationed on COB Adder.
Prior to their deployment, the two had spent a year apart conducting training, and they view this deployment as a chance to spend time together.
“Being deployed together has strengthened our relationship, and I am glad to see my husband on a daily basis,” said Kristina.
Sgt. Brian Waltrip and Spc. Kaylynn Waltrip serve in different battalions within 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., but are both stationed together on COB Adder.
Like many dual military couples, the Waltrips were married during their military career. They met while stationed together at Fort Bragg, N.C., during their time in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Brian is a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives noncommissioned officer in Troop D, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg. Kaylynn serves as a health care specialist in Company C, 64th Brigade Support Battalion.
“It is a blessing, and it is hard at the same time. Whenever my wife is on the road, it is like I am out there with her,” said Brian.
For the Padillas, serving in different theaters makes for some challenges. Sgt. 1st Class James Padilla, a maintenance platoon sergeant assigned to Troop D, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., is deployed to Iraq while his wife, Staff Sgt. Monica Padilla, a transportation management coordinator, assigned to the 43rd Sustainment Brigade is serving in Afghanistan.
Though the two are deployed to different countries, they share the same deployment rotation, bringing them home and together at the same time.
“Even though we are not together, we understand each other’s stresses of being deployed and help each other,” said James. “Fortunately, with instant messenger, webcams and phones, we are able to keep in touch even if we are thousands of miles apart.”
Each couple said having a spouse in the military makes serving easier, as there is someone who understands the stress and challenges of a deployment. Even within these distinctive military families, one fact still holds true. It is the support of loved ones that gives soldiers the courage to complete their missions.