Military Families Face Longer Separations Since 9/11
The aftermath of 9/11 has taken a significant toll on the lives of military families trying to cope with long periods of separation.
Gerilyn Yoder knows all about military life and the difficulties families face with longer and more frequent deployments.
"I was in the Navy for just over six years, and that's how me and my husband met, here in San Diego," said Yoder.
That was 11 years ago she now lives in Ramona in San Diego's East County. Yoder remembers 9/11, very clearly.
She was pregnant with twins and her husband Nigel, a Navy officer, had just deployed to the Western Pacific the day before.
"I saw everything on the news. The planes crashing into the twin towers, people in tears, the firefighters and the tickers scrolling across the screen. I just froze. Being in the Navy I immediately thought this is going to change lots of things, and I probably won't hear from my husband for quite some time," Yoder recalled. I got lots and lots of phone calls from my husband's siblings and his parents being concerned for him and me being pregnant. But again I had not heard anything from my husband and didn't know when I would hear from him."
She did eventually hear from him, but feared he wouldn't be home for the birth of their sons, Kaleb and Adon, who are now 9.
"I ended up having my boys six weeks early, but he still made it home," said Yoder.
The 36-year-old former sailor says before 9/11 the average Navy deployment was about four to five months, but today its seven months or longer.
"Because of 9/11, our military deployments, no matter what branch of service, are longer and more frequent. Meaning our sailors are coming home and maybe home for only two or three months and they turn right back around and deploy again," Yoder said. My husband has deployed lots, my boys turned 9 this year and my husband has deployed five times since their birth, meaning most of their life he's been gone," said Yoder.
Today the family stays in touch by using a DVD. Her husband Nigel records a private video message onto a DVD and mails it to the family.
He reads books to the boys and sends love messages to his wife.
"Even though I'm not there just know that I love you and I'm thinking about you all the time," said Nigel Yoder on one of his recent recordings.
Gerilyn says its great. "Its on DVD so we can play it when ever they want and when ever they're missing their father the most. They're getting to the age now where they definitely need that male role model in their life and they're becoming more active in sports and those types of things," said Yoder.