War on Terrorism

Friday, February 03, 2012

Kuwait: Tennessee Guard mother, daughter duo serving up smiles

By Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Regina Machine
Tennessee National Guard

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (2/3/12) – Deploying with a family member can usually ease the stress of being away from home. For two service members, being deployed with a family member is a delightful recipe for a successful deployment.

 Army Spc. Theresa Stoner and Spc. Crystal Stoner, mother and daughter respectively, are food service specialists assigned to 230th Engineer Battalion, Tennessee National Guard, working together at the dining facility here.

The Stoners, however, are no strangers to deployment. Crystal’s father, an infantryman, had just returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq during the summer of 2010. They spent two weeks together before Crystal left for her six-month advanced individual training.

Crystal, who graduated Dec. 2010 and has dreams of being a personal chef one day, was in AIT when her mother informed her they would be deploying together to Kuwait.

“It was during one of those five minute phone conversations,” Crystal said, “and I said ‘Oh that’s cool.’”

Theresa had doubts initially about the both of them being deployed together.

“At first, I had to admit it scared me,” Theresa said, “but now I don’t know how I could do this without her. She keeps me balanced. I have this sense of family here.”

Crystal agreed about the importance of deploying with family. She recently volunteered to join her brother on his upcoming deployment next year.

“I am young and single with no dependents, and I know my brother,” Crystal said. “I want to be there for him.”

Theresa reflected on her daughter’s decision to deploy with her brother next year. “Deployments are always rough, and it helps to have a family member around and to have someone volunteer to go really takes the edge off.”

For Crystal, being deployed with her mom also comes with challenges.

“Because I am the child, sometimes people will say to me you have your mom here and give me a hard time when I go out to the movies,” Crystal said. “Once the movie is over, my friends ask me if I need to get back home to my mom.”

There is also an issue of not having enough time to spend with each other. They work different shifts, and at times, they only see each other long enough to say goodnight.

“Because I have a family member with me during this deployment, I want to make time for her,” Crystal said, “but there are time restraints because we work two different shifts, and I take online courses. We see each other one full day a week.”

Thoughts do drift to home often, and Theresa knows her husband can now truly understand what it is like to be at home and vice versa.

“I just appreciate all of the support,” Theresa said. “My husband is doing such a great job with the kids; it amazes me. I did not realize he could take on my responsibilities at home as well as he has. He understands me a little bit better, I think, because he has to do what I did all those years. He’s taken to the role of being the sole-caregiver, and I am proud of him.”

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