The other side: a view from the wife of a deployed soldier

Katie Simonet lives in Stillwater with her 14-month-old daughter. Her husband, Braden Simonet, was deployed last September with the National Guard. He is currently stationed in Iraq, and should return this coming Spring.

I don't know many things in life, but this is what I know for sure: being a military wife is nothing like I thought it would be.

What started out as a high school crush turned out to be so much more.

For 12 years I have loved this man and everything about him excites me. Seven years ago when planning a large church wedding my husband and I eloped when he was home on two weeks of leave from Ft. Bragg, NC. That has been one of the most memorable days of my life, but nothing could prepare me for what was coming next. Two weeks later my husband received orders for Kosovo. Suddenly, as a new bride, I found myself living with my parents, anxiously awaiting his return home.

After Kosovo my husband received more orders to Korea, Afghanistan, Kosovo a second time and now Iraq.

All of these deployments were unaccompanied, thus I was not allowed to come along. As a result we have spent less than 600 days together in seven years of marriage and my husband has spent only 166 days with our 14-month-old daughter.

"I am sure you are thinking it is weird that I know exactly how many days we have seen each other, but that is one of the first things I learned as a military wife; you are always counting dates and remembering numbers. I can tell you exactly where I was when my husband delivered the news of his new orders to go overseas, when he is expected back and how many days I waited between phone calls. I also know the number of days between letters received, how many days until our next hug and my least favorite of all - how many times the dates change for him coming home so we never know what is happening next or how to organize our lives.

I believe that this many deployments in such a short period of time is a rarity for one soldier's family to go through, but it has taught us so much.

With numerous opportunities to be independent, I have learned exactly how much work it takes to maintain a household and raise a child without a partner here. I would have never learned how to change a flat tire, snake a drain, spackle a wall or refinish a hardwood floor. I certainly would have never willingly volunteered to clean out clogged rain gutters or put in drain tubing to prevent the basement from flooding in the spring. I also would not have such a vast understanding of military acronyms such as MOS, LES, BDU and MRE, all of which are completely useless unless you are in the military and need to discuss pay stubs, uniforms or food.

My husband is my rock and I would not be able to get through this without him. Still, there are no sleepless nights in our house and no prayers that end without us asking God to keep him and all the other soldiers safe from harm.

My life and our family does not work without him, and I am always worrying that this might be the time he does not make it back. The constant stress of 'what ifs' is what makes military life so difficult for me. I am proud of what my husband and I have accomplished over the years.

Katie Simonet

Stillwater

In a later interview, Simonet was asked what holiday traditions existed in her family.

"We decided that we would create our own family traditions," she said. "He would send an ornament to our daughter from wherever he's deployed, so she'll have a tie-in in the future.

"I'm going to send him something that she made with handprints and footprints. He's also going to videotape himself reading books to her."

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