Tough times don't last, tough people do
Troops board aircraft for deployment overseas.

FORT McPHERSON, Ga. -- If there is one thing that life in the military has taught my family, it is this: Tough times don't last, tough people do.

In July of 2008 my stepfather, Lt. Col. Jody (Jo) Howell, executive officer for Border Transition Team 4300, Joint Task Force-Drifter, boarded a plane at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to make his way to Kansas for training. Three months later, he would deploy to Iraq to complete his 12-month assignment.

No one associated with military life ever wants to hear the words "orders to Iraq." I know my family didn't. We knew the road ahead of us was going to be difficult and long.

Winter arrived and the holidays were tough.

I can't say Christmas was the best one I've ever had, but after it passed, I could look forward to next year. From late-night phone calls to Web-cam chatting, technology helped fill the void even though it wasn't the same as having Jo home.

Jo decided to take his two weeks of leave at the midpoint of his tour and, as the time drew closer, there was a little pep in everyone's step around the house.

We had a great time when he arrived, although the two weeks went by far too quickly. The next six months lingered on day by day. Fall began and everyone was scurrying to get the house perfect for Jo's return.

However, another obstacle soon presented itself. My brother, Zach, had enlisted with the Army to become a military policeman, following in the footsteps of my mother, father and Jo. Zach left for basic training a week before Jo got home.

When Jo returned, things around the house became simpler, but we had yet another family member to miss.

Thankfully, my brother completed his basic and advanced training and will soon proceed to his duty station at Fort Bragg, N.C.

In December, bad news came knocking at our door again. My mother, Lt. Col. LaDonna Holt, commander of Headquarters Command, U.S. Army Garrison (Fort McPherson), is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in April.

The story will restart for my family all over again. She will go to Hartsfield-Jackson and leave us for 12 months.

It will be tough and it will be long, but if anyone can do it, my family can. It can be hard for a 16-year-old girl to deal with no mother for 12 months.

I've also learned that my best friend is moving to Fort Bragg and that my family may be moving there after my mother's deployment.

These are a lot of changes to deal with, but whatever comes my way, I know I have great and supportive people surrounding me and my family.

There is light at the end of these tunnels.

My tough times won't last, but I will.

Page last updated Thu February 18th, 2010 at 14:53