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For married military couples, being deployed together has its advantages and drawbacks.
BAQUBA , Iraq — Months after U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Yvonne Smith and Staff Sgt. Kevin Smith got married, they deployed to Mosul together as part of the same military unit. At the time, Yvonne worked in the brigade headquarters and her husband, an infantryman, provided security for the headquarters element, so they often went on missions together.
“People used to kid around with us our first deployment that it was a honeymoon in Iraq. We were the biggest novelty: The Smiths in Iraq,” said Yvonne, currently on her second deployment with her husband.
Over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has become increasingly common to find married couples like the Smiths deployed together, often sharing private living quarters and having date nights between busy mission schedules. While repeated deployments have strained a number of military marriages, couples who’ve deployed together say that they’re better able to relate to one another knowing what their partner has been through.
“I would not wish to deploy without him,” said Sfc. Emily Pint, speaking about her husband Master Sgt. Donald Pint. Both work in military intelligence and are currently deployed together in the Diyala Province. “He’s the one who helps me out. If I have problems at work and I need to vent, he’s the one that I go to. It’s not like talking to a girlfriend who doesn’t know what I’m going through. He knows what I’m going through because he’s been in that situation more than likely.”
However, knowing exactly what your spouse is going through can create another type of stress. Soldiers married to civilians have the luxury of sharing varying amounts of information with their spouses. Many try not to worry their spouses by providing only general accounts of life in Iraq or Afghanistan, but those deployed alongside their spouse know all the risks in vivid detail.
For Yvonne Smith, who has been on convoys with her husband when roadside bombs detonated, she says that knowing the risks helped her focus on the bigger picture. “There are so many things that go through your mind, what if it’s the last time [I see him] and I was upset with him because the bed was unmade,” she said. “When you’re here in this environment you start realizing the really important things, the things that matter in life.”
Smith admits, however, that once they return to the United States, she’s not certain how long her Zen attitude toward a messy house will last.
Still for couples who live together in Iraq, many of the domestic chores that can test a marriage are taken care of by base services. The cafeteria prepares meals, there’s no lawn to look after, and there’s a laundry service.
But living together isn’t always a guarantee. Smith’s husband was recently sent to a small base north of hers. They still see one another a few times a month when her husband comes to the base to resupply, but the honeymoon is over, so to speak.