By Army 1st Lt. Carolyn Frazier
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 21, 2008 - A mother's job is not easy duty, especially for a soldier mom serving in Iraq, thousands of miles away from home. That's why one servicemember looks to her own mother to help with her four children. "She is the love of my life. ... I am very, very close to my mom," said Army Staff Sgt. Tonya Harvey, an automated logistics specialist with the 3rd Infantry Division's 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team. "Without my mom, I wouldn't be able to do it, because she is my backbone."
Harvey is a single mother who said good-bye to her kids in October and has seen them only once in the past 12 months. She has three months remaining before she returns home to them.
By 2 p.m., the days in Iraq turn hot and steamy, and that's when she performs her favorite duty in Iraq: calling her children.
"I try to call every day before they go to school," she said. Her daily phone calls are her time to give encouragement and motivation to Tekera, 14, Tekeyla, 12, Kawania, 10, and Tia, 6. She also chats with them online every evening to hear about their day and to make sure they are all right, but most importantly, she said, so they know she is with them, no matter the distance.
Harvey said she could not serve her country without the help of her mother, Connie, a single mom herself.
Harvey's children stay in Chauncey, Ga., with their grandmother, who also took care of them during two previous deployments to Iraq and while Harvey served in South Korea in 2004. She has had Tia since the child was 6 months old, when Harvey deployed to Iraq for the first time.
"When I came back, [Tia] didn't know who I was," Harvey said. But by the time she returned from Iraq and Tia was beginning to get used to her, it was time to move to South Korea. She took her oldest three children with her and left Tia with her mother. It was a tough time, Harvey said, and one of the many trials of being a mother in the military.
Harvey said she realizes her children are getting older, and her concerns grow as they enter their teen years.
"It's time to be home and focused," she said.
With their grandmother's help, Harvey's children are involved with church activities. All the children participate in the choir, while Tekeyla and Tekera also are on the church's dance team. In addition, Tekeyla is on the cheerleading squad, Tekera runs track and Kawania plays football and basketball. Harvey's ex-husband is stationed in Charlotte, N.C., so her children see him often.
In Iraq, Harvey serves as the material handling supervisor in Company A's Supply Support Activity platoon. She manages four soldiers from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. to ensure operations run smoothly during the mid-shift hours. The SSA receives and stores equipment and supplies for more than 120 supporting units throughout the Vanguard area of operations, from bottled water to packaged meals and other equipment.
No matter what she does or where she goes, Harvey said, the support and strength she gets from her mother inspire her to drive on.
(Army 1st Lt. Carolyn Frazier serves in the 3rd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)