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Spc. Jessica Rohr, 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division PAO
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - April 27, 2010 When Soldiers are deployed, their spouses can be challenged to face new tasks they haven’t handled in the past. Taking care of children and the household alone are a few examples of what spouses face during their loved ones’ deployment.
Sergeant First Class Helen Foster, the noncommissioned officer in charge for human resources, Division Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga., reflects on her Family back home in Apple Valley, Minn., as May 7, Spouse Appreciation Day, nears.
Her husband of 20 years, David Foster, has taken on many new responsibilities. Sergeant First Class Foster makes a conscious effort to communicate with him whenever possible to thank him for his hard work.
“He always wants me to call, e-mail or Skype with him,” said Sgt. 1st Class Foster. “At the beginning part of the deployment I was having a hard time doing that, only because I was wrapped up in work. I am getting a little bit better at [communicating], and I always thank him for what a great job he has been doing. I talk to him about three times a week on the phone, Skype two times a week and I am trying to e-mail him every day [to show my appreciation].”
Showing appreciation almost certainly helps spouses as they take on all the daily household tasks on their own.
Mr. Foster is keeping things in order back home with their two daughters, Kayla, 11, and Elisabeth, 18, while his wife is deployed to Iraq. This is the first time she has been away from her Family for an extended period of time, and Mr. Foster has had to learn some new techniques to manage this increased reasonability.
“Priorities,” said Mr. Foster. “I have to manage it all alone, and I keep it all smooth [by] setting priorities.”
To help alleviate the stress of dealing with the responsibilities alone, neighbors, Becky and Marty Bonnell, have been there to support Mr. Foster. The Bonnell’s take the youngest daughter out to the movies or do “mother-daughter” type activities in Sgt. 1st Class Foster’s absence.
Balancing children, maintaining a full-time job as a warehouse supervisor, cooking dinner, and making time for his wife already consumed Mr. Foster on a normal day. Now, he must accomplish all his wife’s duties, as well.
“There are a lot of role reversals after having been married for almost 20 years,” said Sgt. 1st Class Foster “He’s relied on me to do a lot of this stuff. He’s always let me handle the grocery shopping, or he does the outside housework while I did the inside housework.”
In preparation for her deployment, Sgt. 1st Class Foster taught her husband the basic skills needed to do her share of the chores. On-line bill paying was one of a few important tasks transferred between the two of them.
Mr. Foster had to take on the responsibility of everything, as he listed his daily duties, “My kids, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, household shopping, mail, bills, yard work and a full-time job, just to mention a few.” Sergeant First Class Foster has a new-found appreciation for her husband’s support and willingness to care for their Family.
“I would like to let my husband know that he is doing a terrific job taking care of everything,” she said.
“I appreciate her support,” said Mr. Foster. “I do everything I can to keep things running smooth so she can focus on her mission.” Sergeant First Class Foster feels all spouses are doing an “amazing job” in their partners’ absence by taking care of children, pets, bills and keeping up with the house.
“They are just doing a terrific job taking on all of this - the extra stuff that their spouses normally handle when they are there,” said Sgt. 1st Class Foster.