FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Like many military spouses, Theresa Scott is no stranger to seeing her husband deploy. She knows what it is like to stay behind, rear a family, pay all the bills and maintain a "normal life" while he travels overseas.Unlike most spouses, however, Scott recently had a chance to experience life on the other end of the spectrum.Scott is the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) family readiness support assistant, and her then boss, Lt. Col Brett Ayvazian, the former Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC commander directed her to go to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait to see firsthand what Soldiers go through on deployments.From June 5 to 20, Scott left her husband Sgt. Andy Scott behind to eat in Army chow halls, sleep in the barracks and travel on military vehicles."Lt. Col. Brett Ayvazian wanted me to go through the entire 'deployment' process so I could relate to Soldiers and their families and speak to them from personal experience," she said.Scott recalled the events from the start of her flight to settling into her barracks at Camp Arifjan.
"Departing to Arifjan felt like any other trip to me," Scott said. "When I got on the plane it felt more real, but it really hit me when we landed in Kuwait. The heat hit me hard, almost taking my breath away!"After catching her breath, Scott exited the plane and got into a huge line of people whose definitions of personal space differ from hers.They pushed forward, trying to make it through the passport checkpoint, she said. Once she made it through, she gathered her belongings and headed for Camp Arifjan."Once you arrive in Kuwait, you get your baggage and sign for your quarters," Scott said. "It was later in the evening so we missed lunch and dinner. I was tired and had been in the same clothes for over 36 hours."Scott said that after a long flight she really wanted to shower and eat dinner."It was hard to find my stuff in the dark in the I-Bay (transient quarters) and then shower, set up my room and go have midnight chow," Scott said.Scott said she knew her family would appreciate a call to know she made it safely to her destination but what she really wanted to do was to go to sleep."When Andy deployed, I wanted him to call me right away and tell me all about his trip and his quarters, but I realize now that is probably the last thing he wanted to do," Scott said. "After several days of travel, all you want to do is sleep, eat and recover."Scott said even though she was exhausted, she had trouble sleeping the first night in a new place because of the open room, the dark, and the sounds of people snoring."Sleeping in the I-Bay was a new experience for me because I never lived in dormitory like quarters before," Scott said. "I had a hard time sleeping with noises. The last week we were there the air conditioning broke, so the heat never seemed to end."In addition to the frustration of trying to get a good night's rest, Scott traveled with Kevlar-protected battle equipment. She found it heavy, awkward and cumbersome. She found hope knowing the life-saving potential it brings, welcoming that thought.Scott said one of the main reasons she went downrange was to check in with the 1st TSC Soldiers who are currently deployed. She said they ensured her success and took care of her while she was there."I was fully welcomed by them upon arrival," Scott said. "I felt a part of the team.""They assisted me with setting up face-to-face meetings with 331st Transportation Company (Causeway) on the Logistics Support Vessel and with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander of the 143rd Sustainment Command -- Expeditionary," Scott said.While there, she met with several senior level officers including Brig. Gen. Deborah L Kotulich, deputy commanding general, 1st Theater Sustainment Command -- OCP, Col. Gary "Eddie" Gillon, chief, strategic operations and plans, and Col. Brian Richie, support operations officer, both of the 1st TSC, to get their perspective on how the Family Readiness Group can better assist the families back home.Her husband Andy, a materiel control accounting specialist, 1st TSC, gave his own perspective on seeing his wife deploy."My work day was normal but my home life was challenging," Andy said. "I worked on keeping my schedule as normal as possible but felt conflicted when trying not to miss my wife's call. I tried to be available for her phone call because I never knew when she could call."Andy waited and wondered when the call from Scott would come. The more time passed the more his stress increased."That was more stressful than I realized," Andy said. "I found maintaining a battle rhythm was hard and sometimes inconvenient. I did miss her call and I felt very guilty."Andy shared his conflicted feelings about knowing what his wife was about to experience.
"I wanted to be supportive but also wanted to cut the emotional umbilical cord to give her a chance to bond with the people on her left and right," Andy said.He added that he learned a lot from the experience."It has given both of us a greater appreciation and understanding of each other's roles and support for one another," Andy said.Scott has two sons, one a veteran, the other active duty. Both of them said it was "weird" seeing their mom deploy because she is not active duty."Nevertheless, they couldn't be more proud of their mom," Scott said.Since returning to Fort Knox, Scott reflected on what a Soldier experiences when they deploy.
"I have a better understanding of the organization, the structure, how best to help families prepare for the deployments, and the stresses that come with the transition," Scott said.Scott said she now feels a closer bond to deploying Soldiers and an even greater passion to assist them and their families."I want to connect with the out-bound teams early on to build bridges of trust and competence in the program," Scott said. "This is a readiness program; therefore, we are taking a readiness approach and working to make the FRG a positive life experience for the unit as a whole."Scott shared advice for families coping with the distance of their loved ones."Stay connected, avoid separation, and share your burdens," Scott said. "There are solutions out there and programs and individuals who want to help you through this transition. It is okay to have others come alongside you to make you stronger."Scott said the 1st TSC Family Readiness Group could not be successful without its volunteers.
"They stepped in while I was away and kept the program going," she said. "The more volunteers you have, handling issues when they come up are much easier. I signed up four volunteers in Kuwait while I was there. This enables us build stronger bonds in the unit with each other and our community."Scott shared one more piece of advice she learned before going to Kuwait."Every person who gave me advice prior to leaving said exactly the same thing about the showers…bring shower shoes!"-30-