Inside the Gates: How military families cope with deployment
Deployment is one of the biggest hardships military families face. At Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, spouses missing their service members have support to help them through the separation.
The Baker family has been away their airman for the last five months.
Senior Airman Brian Baker is currently deployed in Afghanistan. It’s the first time he’s been away from his wife Megan and two children, Annabelle, age 4, and Brayden, age 14 months.
Megan is left to handle the kids, along with a full time job, all on her own. She said her family had about 10 days to prepare for her husbands departure.
“[It] took us about 60 to 70 days to actually be relaxed with it, but you just have to keep on keeping on.”
Brian missed his son’s first birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The members of his unit currently in Anchorage have been helping Megan. They shoveled the driveway, brought them a turkey dinner and helped with gifts. That doesn’t make the family miss him any less.
“It’s a thirteen and a half hour time difference so you can only do but so much in trying to talk,” said Megan.
Coping with those issues is where the Family Readiness Center comes in. Tech Sgt. Bradley Kecker helps spouses through deployment with resources, connections and support.
“We’re a family. It doesn’t matter if you’re Army or Air Force, we’re here for each other,” said Kecker.
If families need a tangible reminder of their loved one, he does that too. He prints pictures on t-shirts and pillowcases. He made one for 4-year-old Annabelle Baker.
“It’s something that they can look at when they go to bed, when they’re missing their loved one,” said Kecker.
“She was so happy. [She had] the biggest smile on her face,” said Megan. “She ran and gave [Kecker] the biggest hug and was so pleased that she can go to sleep with her dad.”
The Bakers don’t know when Brian will be back home. For now, they’ll keep writing him letters, looking at his pictures and making it work until they can welcome him home once again.
“We’ll be there waiting and we’ll have our welcome home signs,” said Megan.
“Inside the Gates” is a weekly look at military life on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The series will air every Friday at 6 p.m. on KTVA 11 News.