Inside the Gates: Military families say goodbye
For military families, long separations are a reality of life. As 2,100 soldiers with the 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team head to Afghanistan, there are a lot of families missing each other.
The Wegner family is getting ready to be among them. Spc. Nathan Wegner will leave within the week, so he’s checking to make sure he has all the supplies he needs.
"I have re-packed this duffel bag here about 10 times,” said Wegner, looking over his equipment. “I got a couple pictures of the wife and kids in my wallet."
This is his first deployment, so he wants to make sure he has everything he needs to spend nine months in a war zone.
"When I get space, I'll put in like a deck of cards of something, I don't know how much free time I'm going to get,” said Wegner.
It's the not knowing-- first, if he was going to deploy-- then, when he’d be leaving-- that's been hard on this family.
“It's dawning on me that it's more real and it's actually happening now,” said Wegner.
"My brain is not processing, but when the time is coming close, I'm like, 'Oh my God, I'm going to be alone for a long time,'” said his wife, Wilma Wegner.
Wilma is going to school full time and soon, she'll be a single mom to two teenage daughters.
“It is what it is,” she said. “I'm going to try everything I can just keeping my mind occupied."
They're used to the normalcy of family life: meals together, work, school, weekends.
“To not have that for nine months, it just seems so weird to me,” said Wegner.
They're going to be apart for big events, like the holidays.
"It's going to be hard because we're always full, this table, so this year there's going to be one chair empty,” said Wilma.
Wegner said he’ll miss the little moments with his daughters.
“I won't be here to help them with anything or to answer their questions or even pick them up from school,” he said.
Wegner said he’s confident in his training and in his unit and is looking forward to coming home safely next year.