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Let's stay together

Military families and couples work to maintain bonds during service

By Talee Mabe
On March 28, 2013


Despite a recent tapering off of troop deployments, many couples will spend Easter separated as part of a series of celebrations interrupted by military service.

These occasions can serve to underscore the struggles faced by couples and families to cope with long deployments, during which communication can often be few and far between.

Developments in communication technology have made the struggle of staying in touch "easier and easier," according to Kirkwood Veterans Affairs representative Vicki Terronez. The advent of Skype and other software has been integral to communication.

Terronez recalled her work with an active duty married couple. During one partner's deployment, the couple would Skype. This allowed the pair to speak each night and keep a consistent routine with their children.

However, while a temporary solution, these platforms are often used in conjunction with other methods of communication.

Terronez said that more efforts are often required to cope with deployments that can last more than a year and feel like much longer.

Terronez noted the important placed on the reinforcement of communication by service-related organizations and the military itself.

"The military is all about keeping that connection," said Terronez.

Kaleigh Steege, liberal arts emphasis, is working to stay connected to her fiancé in the Marine Corps, who is currently deployed.

Steege's fiancé's deployment kept them apart during this recent Valentine's Day. Steege regretted that the holiday, which would have been the couple's first Valentine's Day together, couldn't be shared in person. Steege noted, however, that while she misses him during such special occasions, she greatly respects his sacrifice.

Despite the struggles on both of their parts, Steege said the two have grown closer.

Steege said she found other ways to stay connected, including sending a care package to her fiancé. Steege said she made sure to include various comfort foods in her package.

The uncertainties of deployment provide opportunities for loved ones at home to network and share information.

Steege recalled a strengthening of the bonds between herself and others  in a similar position of uncertainty. Steege, who said she anticipates her fiancé's homecoming, appreciates the certainty that comes with the establishment of a return date.

Her fiancé's military service, as well as their separation, has made Steege "more patriotic," she said.

According to Terronez, this feeling is not uncommon among family members and significant others of military personnel in such a position. She said that this results in many family members joining military-related service organizations. 

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