AUGUSTA, Maine — For most Soldiers, packing up the old olive drab colored duffle bag and preparing for deployment is just a fact of life. Some eagerly throw their packs over their shoulder and never look back, and there are some that do look back and say good-bye to the family they are leaving behind.
When the 488th Military Police Company deploys to Afghanistan this summer, spouses and children will be taking on extra duty and trying to keep their deployed spouse present despite the distance.
Staff Sgt. Angela Baker, training non-commissioned officer for Joint Forces Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, is no stranger to deployment. She left her first child Gavin at eight months old for her first deployment to Iraq in 2004.
Now, she prepares for her husband, Sgt 1st Class Brian Baker’s second deployment away from her and their two year old son Jacob. She plans to help herself get through this one the same way she always has, by staying busy.
“I didn’t spend my day’s home alone worrying, because I was too busy,” said Baker. “Holy crap the kids hungry again. He’s awake, got to get formula. He’s out of diapers. How can he be out of diapers, I just bought diapers?”
“It’s never dull and the kids kept me busy, it made it ok,” said Baker. Part of being busy will include sending emails and using video chat to stay connected to Brian.
Baker wants to use phone and video chat so Brian can see the boys and Jacob doesn’t lose that interaction with his father. “He is at an age where I am not sure what he will do, he knows who his dad is but I would hate for him to lose any recognition.”
Thanks to modern technology Soldiers have an advantage that they haven’t in the past. Families of the 488th will have the chance to video conference the Soldier home for Christmas morning and birthday parties.
Along with on-line chat Sgt. Michael Bachman, senior human resources non-commissioned officer for the MP’s, will use additional resources to make sure his twelve month old Dante, hears and see’s daddy.
“We are getting two flat soldiers.” Torso sized cut-out photos of the deployed Soldier that families can bring to parties, ball games and just have around the house. “We are going to tape videos of me singing lullabies because that’s what my son’s used to, we are recording books and my wife is going to hang a lot of pictures so he remembers my face,” said Bachman.
Communicating with his wife Annette is just as important as his son explained Bachman, “It lets them know they’re still thought of, I am not running away from her or my responsibility as a father. I will let her know that every day.”
The MP’s, known as the Guardians, have made it a priority to have a strong Family Readiness Group to ensure the family left behind is well supported and the unit downrange feels more comfortable.
Sgt. Travis Young, a military police officer with 1st Platoon, 1st Squad is impressed with the unit family support and knows they will be there to assist. “Because we have such a good support group that is going to help our family, it will help me concentrate on the mission and help me get the job that I have to do done.
Having that kind of support is very important for Baker. “The one thing that we share, and say we as the human race, is commonality. When we find people we have something in common with especially during a tough time or a big transition in our lives, we bond together. With the FRG, family days and Yellow Ribbon events, you know you’re not going to go through it alone. The best thing to do is go ahead and make those connections, because if you are feeling it someone else probably is to.
When the Guardians do sling their duffle bags on their shoulders and head overseas they will be far from the house, but still close to home.