Deployment Week: A Mom’s Realities

Tracie Ciambotti with her son Joshua Nearhoof, an Army Sergeant out of Fort Carson.

As a military mom, the one thing you don’t want to see or hear the week your son deploys to a war zone is a story of a fallen hero or a wounded warrior.  Unfortunately, I have seen and heard both in the last few days. 

Saturday morning on the front page of the Denver Post was the picture of a mother and a father holding a small child as they sat on a horse-drawn carriage which held the body of their son.  The baby was the ten month old daughter of  Cpl Brandon Kirton who was killed in Afghanistan in May.  Tears streamed down my face as I read the story about this fallen hero.  He had only spent two weeks with his precious baby girl.     

As hard as I try to control my thoughts and emotions, I can’t help but think, this could be me.  This is a reality of life as a military mom, when your child is deployed in a war zone, you know that at any moment on any day you could be the one getting the knock on the door with news that will forever change your life.  It is a constant effort to manage these thoughts and not allow them to take over your day.

Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from a friend who is also a military mom and a member of my Military Families Ministry group in Colorado.  She received a call from her son, who is an Army staff sergeant from Fort Riley, Kansas, and currently deployed in Iraq.  His location was hit by mortar attacks overnight and he was injured in the attack.  He is now in Germany being treated and prepared for transport to the states. We are so thankful that he is alive and was able to make that call home–but we know he has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  He has a wife and two small children, who–along with his parents–wait anxiously to hear where he will be transported to so they can join him.  

These events are harsh reminders of the possibilities that exist this next year as my son serves in Afghanistan.  I could be facing either  of these situations; however, I must choose not to focus on the what-ifs because they are nothing but a trap for fear and heartache .

When War Gets Personal

Private First Class Tyler Smith serving in Afghanistan with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany.

By Tracie Ciambotti

I saw a post on Facebook from Tyler Smith, one of the soldiers supported by our Military Families Ministry group in Pennsylvania.  He posted a link, At Frontline Hospital, Afghan War’s Toll Is Deeply Felt, and a comment, “get well soon brothers, the first round is on the house.”  As I read this story about the increased injuries and casualties with the start of the Afghan’s fighting season, I could feel the emotions rising inside me and tears in my eyes.  By the end of the article I understood Tyler’s comment on his post; the wounded warriors in the story were members of his unit, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany; serving their final weeks of a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. 

My tears were no longer confined to my eyes; they were rolling down my face.  I know Tyler personally; I have exchanged emails with him over the past year during his deployment.  I wrote a “hero spotlight” about him and his mother in our March newsletter.

Tracie Ciambotti's son, Joshua Nearhoof, Army Sergeant out of Fort Carson.

As the mother of a soldier, I rarely can read, hear, or watch anything about war that doesn’t bring tears.  When my son first deployed, I remember praying it wasn’t him each time I saw a news report of a casualty or war injury, but the reality that it is always someone’s child quickly became entrenched.

This particular story is very personal to me; I care for the young man who posted it and my heart breaks for him and those injured, and my son will be deploying to Afghanistan within the next 30-45 days.  As his deployment draws near I know it is time to gather my battle gear and prepare for my own war—the one that starts the day he leaves.

War was never personal to me prior to my son enlisting in the Army; I was always patriotic and grateful for the service and sacrifice of the men and women in our Armed Forces.  Honestly, I had no understanding of the burden placed on military families—until I became part of one.

Tracie’s previous blog post:

An Army Mom Connects Military Families, Churches

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