Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

February 6, 2013

Families feel weight of troop deployment

By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Journal-Times

Feb. 6, 2013 — Spouses of active duty personnel are no strangers to the heart-wrenching effects of deployment, the separation from husbands or wives for months, or even years.

Those left behind to navigate the waters of everyday life on military bases, however, often have the support of other nearby families who can relate to their struggles.

For spouses of part-time soldiers like the Kentucky Army National Guard, however, dealing with the reality of separation for an extended period of time can be even more difficult.

For Jessica Hanshaw, 19, not yet a month removed from becoming a new mother, her husband's deployment is something that she's been dreading.

“It's going to be hard,” she said. “I'm actually going to stay with my parents in Michigan while my husband is gone. He could be overseas as long as a year, but they told us that it would be no less than nine months.”

Their newborn son, Preston, likely will spend the first year of his life apart from his father, Chase, who is a member of the 149th Vertical Construction Company, scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan later this week.

“It's going to be hard to be away, but at the same time I'm really looking forward to the experience,” said Hanshaw, 22. “I will miss them both but I also want to learn from this and become a better person.”

The young soldier was visibly torn between love of country and devotion to his family during Sunday's deployment ceremony.

Although the prospect of being without a loved one for a year can be daunting, there is help available for local families.

The Family Readiness Group (FRG) is an organization devoted to filling the void left behind by deployed soldiers.

Deborah Colegrove, the FRG director, outlined services that the organization offers.

“We offer support, counseling, help with obtaining military identification, and help with Tricare (military health insurance) issues,” she said. “We also have resources for parental assistance as well.”

Affected families can contact Colegrove directly for assistance by email at deborahcolegrove1983@gmail.com or by telephone at (606) 207-9989.

For most, however, the best news they will receive will be the return of their loved ones.

“I'm praying that Chase will be home by Christmas. That would be the best present we could get this year,” said Jessica.

Joe Lewis can be reached at jlewis@journal-times.com or by telephone at 286-4201.