One family's story of dedication and patriotism
June 24, 2013
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (June 25, 2013) -- On any given day, walking into the 864th Engineer Battalion's medical treatment facility on a forward operating base in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, one would find Spc. Tammy Hyden walking around helping patients with anything from a cough to a sprained ankle. If not in the aid station, Spc. Tammy Hyden is walking the deconstruction project sites ready to administer first aid if a Soldier gets hurt while working.
Spc. Tammy Hyden has been serving on active duty in the United States Army as a medic since 2009. However, she is not the only one in her family who is serving on active duty.
According to the DOD, only one-half of one percent of Americans were serving at any point in time over the past ten years of war. Additionally, a report conducted by the Pew Research Center in late 2011 concluded that, after surveying more than 2,000 civilian adults and 1,900 veterans, "only 57 percent of civilian respondents ages 30 to 49 said they had an immediate family member who served." The percentage drops to one-third among respondents aged 18-29.
In Spc. Hyden's family, they can name three, soon to be four, immediate family members who are serving. In fact, after her daughter goes through basic training, all of Spc. Hyden's family will be active duty in the Army. Her husband of 24 years, serving since 2005, is a warrant officer in the Transportation Corps, also currently deployed in Afghanistan. Her son, recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan last year, is a specialist serving as a combat engineer. Her daughter is waiting for her husband to finish the Artillery advance individual training before entering into active duty service in either human resourcing or patient administration within the Army.
While standing in her battalion's trauma room behind a wooden table holding a stretcher, the former 911 dispatcher explained her reasoning for wanting to join the Army.
"It was the change I saw in my husband after he returned from AIT [advanced individual training] that inspired me to join. He seemed, happier, after basic and AIT. I wanted to better myself as well."
Her husband, prior to entering into active duty, was serving in the reserve forces. He enjoyed the military lifestyle so much that he decided that he wanted to go into active service.
"We had a family meeting about his decision to go active duty."
After discussing the lifestyle changes that would occur with switching from reserve to active duty, to include moving her teenage children away from their friends and high school, Spc. Hyden said the conversation ended well.
"We supported his decision knowing how important it was for him," said Spc. Hyden.
Almost eight years after that discussion, Spc. Hyden discussed both the positive and negative aspects to having almost her entire family serving in the Armed Forces.
For herself, one advantage is her working career.
"When we would move around, I would have to start at the bottom [of her job's working structure] every move. Many times, I would have to work nights and I wouldn't get to see him often. Now that I'm serving, I don't have to worry about that anymore. We have the same work schedule now, and the same holidays off!"
Spc. Hyden also discussed how being stationed in different areas has its advantages.
"We have long term connections when we move. We don't have to rely on a stranger telling us the best places to live when we move. It eliminates the unknown of moving."
As with all situations, there are negatives aspects to having most, soon to be all, of her immediate family serving in the Armed Forces.
"Being spread all over the country is difficult. Family time over holidays is limited."
Despite being spread all over the country and the worries that accompany deployments to hazardous areas, the Hyden family remains strong in their commitment to serving their country with plans to serve for years to come.