Operation Afghanistan: Serving with your spouse
In the military, it's not uncommon to meet a future spouse while on the job. What isn't common, however, is to have a married couple deployed at the same time, same location and housed under the same roof.
From last September to this coming May, three-fourths of JBER's 4-25 Spartan Brigade have been deployed to eastern Afghanistan. Out of the roughly 2,100 soldiers on tour, there are only a few married couples, but only one that managed to be stationed together.
Staff Sgts. Nicole and Charles Detwiler met six years ago, a few weeks before their first deployment. They say it was during that deployment they fell in love, and they married a short time later.
The Detwilers have now been married for about five years, and while they didn't expect to be paired together during their current deployment, they say it's been a blessing.
"I feel like we got lucky," said Staff Sgt. Charles Detwiler. "I didn't have high expectations of us living together because it's usually the unit's discretion on whether or not they want to put you together or have you separate."
Although they say being able to comfort each other, share stories and spend time together daily has made their deployment feel like it's flying by, every day when they walk through the door of their barrack, they're reminded of what they're missing.
"The hardest thing is being away from the kids." said Staff Sgt. Nicole Detwiler. "We're both missing out on moments with our kids due to the fact that we're both in the armed forces."
Their daughters, 9-year-old Khamari and 3-year-old Jordan are back in Jacksonville, Florida being cared for by Charles' father. The Detwilers say, unlike other branches of the military, they didn't have the choice to have one parent stay behind with the kids.
"We definitely have an understanding family." Staff Sgt. Charles Detwiler said. "We call them and say we need you to watch the kids for this time period and they definitely understand, and have no problem doing it."
For the Detwilers, Saturday is their family night. To continue the tradition, they talk to their kids every Saturday on video chat. Although Khamari is used to her parents being away, Nicole says Jordan has had a difficult time adjusting. It's a transition that both Detwilers say has been made easier by the support system they have back home, looking forward to returning home, and being reunited with their girls in the coming months.