By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
Master Sgt. Rudy Gamez and his wife, Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez, are documenting their experiences as they serve separate deployments in Afghanistan in the Air Force blog, “Double Duty: Know Before You Go.”
This is the master sergeant’s sixth deployment and his wife’s first. The aim, said Christina, a financial analyst stationed at Lackland Air Force Base,
, is to pass on lessons learned to other service members preparing for their own deployments. Texas
“I want people to understand the emotions of deployments from both sides,” she said. “I've been on the other side -- left at home with a full-time job and then some, with two kids and no family in driving distance.
“Now I see it from the deployed side,” she added. “I understand the need for a stronger emotional toughness so the deployment doesn't destroy you. It can be a helpless feeling over here at times, knowing you can only do so much to take care of the ones you love.”
The couple’s blog posts have run the gamut from dealing with household packing to the pain of family separation to day-to-day life in a combat zone. Christina’s blog posts range from the highly practical –- such as a list of items to pack when flying overseas –- to the whimsical. A recent post, for example, dealt with a conversation she had about fishing with an Afghan interpreter.
“He told us that when the war first kicked off, their version of fishing was throwing a grenade in the water,” she wrote. “The fish would be stunned, so it made it easy to scoop them up.”
Rudy, a communications director on
, touched on attitude in one of his blog posts. Camp Eggers, Afghanistan
“Sometimes our problems aren’t so much the circumstances we’re confronted with, but more the perspective in which we view them,” he wrote.
But most heartfelt are the couple’s posts about their children, 5-year-old Tomas and 3-year-old Eva.
Christina wrote extensively about the day in January when she left for predeployment training. A snowstorm had delayed their arrival at the airport, and she had only about 20 minutes to say goodbye to her family for a year. She clung to her children at the gate, but all too soon the final boarding call came.
“I asked my family to take them and walk away first before I finally turned around to walk down the hall to my plane,” she wrote. “It was, without a doubt, the hardest moment I’ve had as a mom.”
Now stationed in western
, Christina still tears up when recalling that day, which not only is imprinted on her memory, but also is saved for posterity in the blog. Afghanistan
“It was an emotional day from the start, and never seemed to stop,” she wrote.
Her husband, who is on his third deployment in three years, also shared his thoughts about that day in a blog post.
“Today I am heartbroken,” he wrote. “Though I was not there to drop off Tomas and Eva with Grandpa and Grandma, I feel a large emptiness. Our two li’l ones will be without Mom and Dad at their side for quite some time; the hardest fact I’ve had to come to terms with on this deployment.
“It’s not easily done nor accepted as today I am flooded with the emotion of how wrong this may be,” he continued, “and bear an aching heart and a knot the size of Afghanistan in the pit of my stomach.”
The couple plans to continue to blog through their homecoming and reintegration. Rudy will return home a few months before his wife, so he will be writing about life as a temporary single parent, and Christina plans to shed light on the reintegration process.
“It's not all glitz and glamour the pictures portray,” she said. “It's stressful for just about every return. It’s just the part we don't talk about -- maybe [now] now we can more.”
It’s not always easy to bare her emotions for public consumption, Christina said, but she hopes by doing so, she can help herself while helping others.
“I know, if nothing else, that I was able to help a couple of my friends that have been reading it and found out that they are deploying out this way in the next couple of months,” she said.
“It's also been very therapeutic getting it all out; talking about the emotions, the struggles … and the laughs,” she added.
Her husband has found it tougher to pour out his emotions for the world to see. But he also sees the benefits in doing so. The blog, he noted, offers him not only an emotional outlet, but also a way to start a conversation with other service members.
“I’ve talked to young service members about it, so it’s been positive,” he said.