CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Deployments are a difficult time for Soldiers and their families. Soldiers miss many family gatherings, holidays, birthdays and other special occasions during the length of their deployments. However, a few Soldiers deployed to Kosovo have loved ones nearby.
While deployments often separate families for a year and sometimes longer, there are rare occasions where family members are deployed together and it helps in creating a stronger bond.
Col. Marta Carcana and her son Spc. Elias Montanez, both of Cayey, Puerto Rico, are able to be close to each other throughout the deployment.
Carcana, military assistant for KFOR chief of staff, and Montanez, government specialist, 192nd Liaison Monitoring Team, Multinational Battle Group East, are members of the Puerto Rico National Guard deployed to Kosovo for the KFOR 13 rotation.
“Every mother dreams her son will follow in her footsteps,” said Carcana, “but I never thought this would happen.”
“It feels less lonely being deployed with him as close as he is,” says Carcana.
Even though they are on separate bases in Kosovo they have a stronger means of communication, said Montanez, who is stationed at Camp Bondsteel.
Every few weeks when their schedules coincide, Carcana drives the hour from Film City, where she is stationed, to see her son at Camp Bondsteel. They attend church services together and then have a family lunch, said Carcana.
“I’m proud of my son, and support him in anything he wants to do,” said Carcana.
It has been said that the LMTs are the link between KFOR and the people living in Kosovo. As an LMT, Montanez really gets to see the pulse of what is happening in Kosovo.
“Without them we wouldn’t know what the biggest issues are,” said Carcana.
“I have another son in the Puerto Rico National Guard who is looking at a deployment in the near future; he wishes he was here with us,” said Carcana.
There are different types of family members deployed with each other to the Balkans for the NATO lead KFOR mission.
Brothers in the Arkansas National Guard are deployed as part of the aviation task force at Camp Bondsteel. A married couple within the Puerto Rico National Guard also shares the deployment.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Milton J. DeJesus and his wife MPI Joan L. Hernandez-Vazquez, both of Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, have been deployed together once before to Kuwait.
“What makes this different is the opportunity to share a room with my wife. For the Kuwait deployment, we were not allowed to share accommodations, due to billeting restrictions,” said DeJesus, property book officer, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 92nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, MNBG E.
“One advantage of having my husband with me is that he is like a rock to me,” said, Hernandez-Vazquez, military police investigator, 544th Military Police Company, MNBG E.
“It definitely reduces the stress and burden of the deployment. Gives you peace of mind having somebody to share your problems and work them out together. In addition, it strengthens the relationship based on shared experiences and accomplishments,” said DeJesus.
Although it is nice to have family near it may makes things a bit harder.
“Like a normal family, we have a house, dogs, responsibilities, the whole nine yards. This continues even in our absence,” said DeJesus.
“We need to rely on our immediate family, our guardians, to keep daily things running smooth,” said DeJesus.
“My son, Luis, was deployed to Iraq when I got my orders for Kosovo. It was really hard for both of us. When he was scheduled to come back home, I was not able to go to his homecoming. As a mother I’m always there for their important events. Also leaving the kids with immediate family to care for is hard, not only to the kids but for my mother too. Christmas was a very hard time for them because they did not have either of us to share this time with, and that kind of events affects our kids’ life drastically,” said Hernandez-Vazquez.
Being separated from family members for a year will almost always make a deployment more difficult. But, in some rare cases, deployments can actually bring at least some family members closer together.