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President Barack Obama this fall announced that about 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016 — with a smaller group staying even longer. For many of those troops, it won't be their first deployment, or even their second.
America's war in Afghanistan has seen multiple deployments become routine for military families. As many as 700,000 service member have served more than one tour in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Froehlichs, who live at Fort Drum in New York, knows this all too well. They weren't able to spend Christmas together again this year because Wade Froehlich, a chief warrant officer with the Army, was on his third deployment to Afghanistan — and the sixth of his career.
While Wade Froehlich has adjusted to deploying to various parts of the the world, he says, "you never get used to leaving your family, that's the toughest thing." His wife, Holly, has accepted her husband's line of work, but being a mom of two growing boys isn't easy on her own: "It breaks my heart, because, you know, it's hard on them."
There were only nine months between Froehlich's first and second deployments to Iraq, and he described that period as one of his most difficult: "It was very hard for me to understand the family had kind of taken on a life of its own."
The feeling of missing out on the lives of his wife and his growing sons is a common one, and it makes sense considering Froehlich's own calculation that he's been away from home for nine years out of the 19 that he's served in the Army.
Froehlich's priority before his deployment was to squeeze in as much family time as possible. He made sure to make it to his son's football game, to have family dinners and to cherish those small moments that he keeps with him as prepares to head out into a war zone. Yet again.