Wives of deployed Marines supporting each other
CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — Wives of deployed Marines usually have the support of their husbands’ battalion to help them make it through the tough times.
For wives of “individual augments,” Marines who do not deploy with their units, it’s a tougher proposition. Many raise several children on their own while their husbands fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Camp Courtney, several of those wives have banded together in mutual support.
“Wives are good support if women would just use them,” said Cathy Kiser, who is going through her first deployment experience since marrying Staff Sgt. Harold Kiser four years ago.
Kiser’s “Brady Bunch-like” marriage has her tending to six children, while working as manager at Camp Courtney’s Tengan Castle.
Other Marines in Staff Sgt. Kiser’s unit help out with chores, Kiser said. But wives can share with each other their feelings about their deployed husbands.
“We talk about if they’re all right and what’s going on with them,” Kiser said. “You can’t help but worry.”
Many of the wives agreed that staying occupied with family and other pursuits is one of the best ways for wives to cope.
“It’s been a blessing to be busy,” said Shirley Wilcox, who has children aged 4, 8 and 11. “I don’t have any down time.”
Shirley Wilcox’s husband, Lt. Andrew Wilcox, has been deployed to Afghanistan for more than seven months.
Other wives and friends of Wilcox’s husband pitch in with errands, such as taking her children to play their baseball games.
“It feels like someone looks out for me all of the time,” she said.
Staying in touch also is key to making the deployment go smoothly, many agreed. With the advent of instant messaging, e-mail and improved phone communications, doing so is easier than ever.
As a military spouse for the past 32 years, Donna Cowdrey remembers when communication was far more spotty, and crying had to take a back seat to the $10-per-minute cost of a phone call. “Keep as informed as you can,” said Cowdrey, wife of Brig. Gen. Christian Cowdrey and guest speaker at an “Unsung Heroes” dinner last week to honor the wives.
Jeanne Brady has been posting photos of her new baby on Snapfish, an Internet photo-sharing service, so her husband, Maj. Richard Brady, can watch their child’s progress.
About six months ago, he deployed to Iraq on two weeks notice, leaving Jeanne on Okinawa with a 2-month-old first child.
She spent several nights up with the baby but other wives gave her some break times in the evenings. “They knew what I was going through,” she said.
Many of the deployed individual augments are slated to return within weeks. With homecoming so near, wives like Kiser say it’s important for others like them to always keep one thing in mind.
“The deployment does end,” she said, “and they will come home.”