Feeling the strain

Carol Watson, February 19, 2004

In order to maintain troop levels in Iraq, stop-loss and stop-movement orders are preventing those who would choose to leave the military from doing so, adding to the strain on families where both husband and wife are soldiers and facing separations of as long as two years.

    Brian Stewmon returned late last month from an 11½-month tour in Iraq. He got home just in time to kiss his wife goodbye and send her off on her own yearlong deployment. “We expected separation, but we never expected two years,” Michelle Stewmon said last week, just after arriving in Kuwait. “People don’t know that it’s going on. They’re shocked this is happening.” The Stewmons are among a small number of dual-military families taking a double-barreled hit from the Army’s supercharged operations tempo the past two years.

    Servicemembers who marry know it’s possible that one or both could be deployed. Most Army families have endured a South Korean or Balkans tour. But Operation Iraqi Freedom, with its one-year tours and large personnel demands, has boosted the burden to something no pre-9/11 soldier could have imagined.
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