Martin, who also is on his third tour of duty in Iraq, said the deployment probably is more stressful on the families than on the soldiers. “I think it’s a little bit tougher on the families back home, because … their loved ones are deployed to a combat zone,” he said. “The uncertainty, missing all of those special moments with your family, I mean, that takes a toll.”
Martin said the military has tried to do what it can to make the 15-month separations more bearable. Each camp, joint security station and combat outpost has Internet service and phone connectivity. The soldiers receive mail every other day. “The Department of Defense has gone all-out to do the best that we can to maintain good connections between the deployed soldier and the family back home,” Martin said.
This allows soldiers to come back from a hard day or a hard night and send a quick e-mail back home. “Just knowing that their loved one is OK is a great thing,” he said.
The soldiers also can participate in the upcoming presidential election, the colonel noted. Martin said the brigade has a voting officer who coordinates with voting officers at battalion and company level. Each level of command from the Multinational Division Baghdad commander on down to company commanders emphasizes the need for each soldier to have the opportunity to vote.
“Personally, I’ve taken on as a mission that every single soldier will get a ballot,” Martin said. “Whether they choose to vote or not, that’s their call. But it will be in their hand, and then they will have time to vote. And I think they will.”