A year at War: Families Bear Brunt Of Deployment Strains

A year at War: Families Bear Brunt Of Deployment Strains, New York Times, 31 Dec 2010

By James Dao and Catrin Einhorn

Sgt. First Class Brian Eisch embraced his sons, Joey, 8, left; and Isaac, 12, before returning to his deployment in Afghanistan after a two week midtour leave


WAUTOMA, Wis. — Life changed for Shawn Eisch with a phone call last January. His youngest brother, Brian, a soldier and single father, had just received orders to deploy from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Afghanistan and was mulling who might take his two boys for a year. Shawn volunteered.

So began a season of adjustments as the boys came to live in their uncle’s home here. Joey, the 8-year-old, got into fistfights at his new school. His 12-year-old brother, Isaac, rebelled against their uncle’s rules. And Shawn’s three children quietly resented sharing a bedroom, the family computer and, most of all, their parents’ attention with their younger cousins.

The once comfortable Eisch farmhouse suddenly felt crowded.

”It was a lot more traumatic than I ever pictured it, for them,” Shawn, 44, said. ”And it was for me, too.”

The work of war is very much a family affair. Nearly 6 in 10 of the troops deployed today are married, and nearly half have children. Those families — more than a million of them since 2001 — have borne the brunt of the psychological and emotional strain of deployments.

Siblings and grandparents have become surrogate parents. Spouses have struggled with loneliness and stress. Children have felt confused and abandoned during the long separations. All have felt anxieties about the distant dangers of war.

Christina Narewski, 26, thought her husband’s second deployment might be easier for her than his first. But she awoke one night this summer feeling so anxious about his absence that she thought she was having a heart attack and called an ambulance. And she still jumps when the doorbell rings, worried it will be officers bearing unwanted news.

”You’re afraid to answer your door,” she said.


FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/world/asia/31families.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1311686020-DFQfRXdPrGTC+NYYDk9yXw