Children of local soldiers reflect on affects of deployment on their families, by 8-18 Media

Every day countless stories can be heard concerning the struggles and victories of the more than 100,000 U.S. troops stationed abroad. These reports account skirmishes in such locations as Baghdad or Fallujah and detail the daily life of those in the armed forces. But rarely do they address the affect of the average soldier’s deployment on his or her family.
Kylee Jannausch, fifteen, and Taylor Jannausch, ten, of Ishpeming, are the daughters of Sergeant Bill Jannausch who was deployed last year to Iraq with the local 107th Engineering Battalion. Jannausch serves as a medic and he also teaches classes to his fellow National Guardsmen during his spare time. This is Jannausch’s second tour of duty in Iraq and his redeployment has worried his family; however, the prior experience has helped them cope.
“We were all kind of shocked and surprised (at a second deployment), but we all knew that it’s not any easier for him, so we have to be the strong ones back here,” Kylee said. “Because if we’re not OK, he’s not.”
The deployment of Ishpeming resident Frank Carlson, another sergeant with the 107th Engineering Battalion who serves as a heavy equipment operator, came as a surprise to his family as well, especially to his three sons—Peter, eleven; Derek, fourteen; and Zach, sixteen.
Zach said he had to come to grips with his dad’s deployment.
“At first it was more of a shock, kind of like, ‘Oh, this isn’t true—he can’t be going over,’” Zach said. “But later on, it kind of hit me and I realized that he actually was going over, and I kind of had a feeling like, ‘Why is it him?’ I was extremely sad about it.”
With a projected deployment of sixteen to eighteen months, the absence of a family member can present many hardships for those still in the states. From arranging rides to extracurricular events, to maintaining contact over thousands of miles, problems can arise.
Yet with emerging technology, such as Web cams, even the distance can’t stop families from communicating with loved ones abroad. Such technology is especially important for Derek.
“He calls us sometimes, and we talk to him on the Internet using instant messenger,” Derek said. “And, we have web cams, so we can see him while we talk to him. Usually I’ll wait online and wait for him to come on, and when he does I’ll talk with him for about an hour or hour and a half. It makes me feel good.”
Taylor also makes a habit of corresponding with her father as often as possible.
“Me and my dad e-mail almost every day, and almost every night he calls, but with the time change it’s pretty late when he calls, so I don’t get to talk to him very much,” Taylor said. “But we also get to do Web cam along with IMs, so that’s pretty cool.”
Aside from changes in communication with family members in the armed forces, adjustments must be made to accomplish household tasks. Derek said after his father was deployed, he and his brothers took on additional responsibilities to assist their family.
“He told me not to be worried, and that he’s going to be OK, and to help my brother around the house and stuff, and start fixing more things than I already do,” Derek said.
Although there are many challenges for families of the deployed, a support network of friends and local families exists to assist them in their struggles. Kylee said such people have been of great help.
“My family helps a lot, and talking to my dad helps,” she said. “And just knowing that everybody else is going through it, too. There are a lot of families from around here this time that are going through the same thing. So it helps.”
The Carlson family also has benefited from sharing and uniting with other families of members of the 10th Engineering Battalion.
“Our friends have been supportive with us and they’ve been helping us, and we’ve been sending care packages with their stuff too, so everything is fine,” Zach said. “When it first started out it was a little hectic, but it’s gotten a lot better.”
Derek agrees with his brother that it is important to communicate with and support others dealing with similar difficulties.
“I talk to my friends whose parents have had uncles and aunts that have been deployed, and I try to help them with what they’re doing and what they’re dealing with,” Derek said. “I know it’s hard for them. I just try to be good friends with them.”
Like other local children of deployed National Guardsmen, Kylee and Taylor must deal with the worries associated with the war zone. This is difficult especially since their father was injured during his last deployment when a bomb struck his base. Because of this, they have opted not to watch the news.
“After my dad’s last deployment and his injury, we just stopped watching the news because they usually show all the bad stuff,” Kylee said. “We try not to watch that stuff.”
Zach also worries about the safety of his father during his first tour of duty.
“I’m worried he’s going to get injured,” he said. “Personally I don’t know what would happen to the family if that were to happen. So we’re basically praying that nothing is going to happen to him.”
While most families of the deployed understandably have fears, some find comfort in knowing about the current events in Iraq. For Derek, the news serves as a source of helping him keep up to date with events in Iraq and helps reassure him that his father is all right.
“I usually watch the news for about fifteen minutes when I wake up just so I can get the main stuff on the war and see what’s happening over there,” he said. “I make sure things are going as planned.”
Peter uses the news as well, not for the current events, but to reassure him that his father is out of harm’s way.
“Hopefully I don’t see anything concerning my dad,” Peter said.
Even though Frank Carlson has been in harm’s way and is risking his life serving in Iraq, this doesn’t make his children think of military service in a negative way. In fact, all three boys say they may consider the military in the future. Peter believes that military service is highly important.
“I feel it’s right to protect our country, the same way as my dad does,” he said.
Derek, too, sees the military as a choice, but thinks it may be difficult to leave the local area to go abroad.
“I see it as a possibility of me joining the armed forces or military, and it’ll be a hard decision to make because I’m trying to stay around in town or maybe get a job around here and not have to go overseas or anything,” he said.
Bill Jannausch’s daughters are supportive of military servicemen and women but are not as sure that the military would be a choice for them. Kylee is extremely confident about this.
“I’m really proud of them for what they’re doing, but no thank you,” she said.
Taylor agreed.
“I’m proud of what they’re doing over there and everything, but I don’t see it in my near future,” she said.
After coping with the prolonged absence of a family member, and the worries inherent in military deployment, many children find it hard to agree with peers who seem not to value loved ones. Zach said his father’s tours of duty have made him cherish his time with his father more so than ever before.
“Some of my friends I hear complaining that they don’t get along with their parents, and saying they can’t wait until they’re eighteen to move out,” Zach said. “When I hear that I’m just kind of thinking in my head, cherish it while you can (because) one moment you’ll be with your family and happy, and then the next moment they could be gone.”
Above all, these children of deployed military members hope for the safe return of their loved ones and anticipate once again being able to spend time with them. Yet they know their parents’ experiences while on duty will inevitably change the family. Having lived through such a process before, following her father’s return from Iraq, Kylee is prepared to give him time to become re-accustomed to civilian life. She also understands that after this challenge has been overcome her family will be stronger.
“I’m excited for him to come home, but from what we learned last time it takes them a really long time to get used to going to family functions and being around a lot of people,” she said. “And it takes him a long time to get used to people asking about being in the war and us even asking questions. And it takes at least a year before they really want to talk about what happened over there. So it takes a long time for them to reconnect. But when you do reconnect, you’re a lot closer.”
—8-18 Media

Editor’s Note: This story was written by Pryce Hadley, 18, and Joseph Short, 16, with contributions by Uvie Adah, 12; Afure Adah, 10; and Carlie Coccia, 13.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.