I wrote a headline earlier this week that the “military continues to pay the price for 9/11.” Not all of that cost is in blood, the price also is exacted in how military families live their lives.
“You deploy for a year, then you come back, you have another honeymoon, then you deploy for another year,” said Master SG Milt Nation, a military policeman who joined the Army in 1989. He joined because he always wanted to be a cop. He’s deployed a lot to Bosnia and Croatia “but those were peacetime deployments.”
Nation has deployed five times since 9-11, three times to Iraq, once to Afghanistan and once to Qatar. He’s currently assigned to U.S. Central Command Headquarters at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. I met him at the CENTCOM 9/11 ceremony on Friday.
With so many deployments I asked how that affects his family. He pulled out a photograph of his daughter, Alexandria.
“She turned 8 years old, but I’ve only known her four years of her life with all the deployments that I’ve gone on,” Nation said. “I’m just actually balancing it out right now, to know her, to see her and be a dad. So, I have fun.”
“All soldiers know they’re going to have to deploy to one of those two places (Afghanistan or Iraq) and they expect that and the leadership expects that,” Nation said adding that today’s soldier is different, “I joined a long time ago in ’89 for a different reason, for college and for an experience to be a police officer. But they joined just to help out our country combat on terrorism and I thought that was very honorable, it surprised me just young kids just joined to come over and deploy
He said families learn to deal with deployments taking it day-to-day and technology has been a great help – with the internet and phones – keeping families connected. But he added that it’s important they don’t get distracted.
“Sometimes you’ve got to stay focused about what’s happening with the mission and the families they have to focus what’s going on at school or with the kids,” Nation said. “At the end you’ve got to have that relationship where you come back and try to bond with each other again.”
Nation has two Purple Hearts from his deployments in Iraq and he still loves what he does being a military policeman.
Filed under: Deployment, Military families, U.S. Army | Tagged: Afghanistan, Croatia, Iraq, MacDill Air Force Base, military families, multiple deployments, postaday2011, Purple Heart, Tampa Florida, United States Central Command |