By Captain Monika Comeaux, Public Affairs Officer
NTM-A Deputy Command of Support Operations
13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
Camp Eggers, AFGHANISTAN – Some families have a son, daughter, mother or father deployed, but for some, a deployment is a complete family affair.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Latch, the mobility noncommissioned officer in charge, and Staff Sgt. Carmelita A. Latch, an integrations noncommissioned officer, both work with the Deputy Command of Support Operations under NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan at Camp Eggers. They both deployed from Fort Hood’s 13thExpeditionary Sustainment Command.
Being a married Army couple has both its advantages and disadvantages, but the Latch family seems to latch onto the positives to help them through their second deployment together.
“There is always somebody there to talk to, which is really helpful; it is always nice to have that moral support with you, no matter what,” said Stephen Latch. “We are permanent battle buddies,” he said.
“He is who I vent to,” continued Carmelita A. Latch. The couple began and finished each other’s sentences throughout the entire interview. They are together practically 24/7; being fortunate enough to be housed together. They said if they weren’t on the same camp, they would worry about each other constantly.
“There are times when he gets on my nerves because he picks on me,” she said, ”but as far as us getting mad at each other and have to be away from each other, we have never been like that…we are one of those couples who function better together than apart,” she said.
The couple left three kids back home, who they miss dearly: Lexi who is 20, Rudy who is 19 and Loni who is 11, said Carmelita A. Latch. Lexi and Rudy are both house- sitting family homes in two different states. Lexi attends college full time in Virginia. Rudy has a full time job in Texas. Loni is with her mom and grandparents, the Latches explained. Being the youngest, it is harder for her to deal with her dad being away, but she copes well, said Stephen Latch.
“Really she [Lexi] is a trooper. This is the fourth deployment that I have been on since she has been alive. She is getting kind of in the zone now where she understands… when she does get to missing me a lot, normally I either try send her a necklace or something, she can look at, give her something that she can hold and touch and that helps her a lot,” said Stephen Latch.
The two older kids back in the United States shared their views via e-mail about not having either parent around. “I love them and miss them more than anyone could know, and I can’t wait to see them again,” said Rudy-Allan Kaech Jr., Carmelita A. Latch’s son through an email. “It gives me a sense of independence living on my own, with the sense of security that they will still be there for me… if I need them.”
“Both of my parents being deployed, is very hard. When I need to talk or need anything, they are not here,” said Loni Marie Kaech, Carmelita A. Latch’s daughter, starting her message with how having to talk about her parents being gone actually brings her to tears. She also misses the double dates she used to go on with her husband and parents, she said.
The Latch family set some solid goals during this deployment to make time go by faster. They paid off most of their bills already and are saving up for their mid-tour leave. They have also been working on college courses. “It has been a long deployment,” said Carmelita A. Latch. “We both started college out here. He has done 20 college credits since we have been out here, I will have finished 25 college credits, and I have also raised my General Technical score out here, so I am excited about that. We have accomplished a lot here, and it has been amazing,” she said.
“I had no college at all, it is a really big step for me,” said Stephen Latch.
Loni back home is also working towards a degree using Stephen Latch’s Post 9/11 GI Bill. Her mom set an incentive to inspire her: “I promised my daughter I take her anywhere in the world when she graduated college. Now she wants to go to Greece, so I am trying to save up for that,” said Carmelita A. Latch with a broad smile.
“A little bit of suffering on our part to get her ahead of life. I think it is all worth it,” said Stephen Latch.
The couple will take leave shortly to rest up a bit and enjoy the Texas hunting season. They will keep their eyes on their goals not only for the duration of the deployment but also for their future. “My goal is to retire as a sergeant major… the first female sergeant major of the Army,” said Carmelita A. Latch.
I want her to pass me,” said her husband. “I think personally that she got the potential. Obviously I have a biased opinion, because she is my one of my most favorite noncommissioned officers,” said Stephen Latch. They both agreed that their biggest goal overall is always to safely return to their children.
As for tips how to survive in the military and on deployments as a married couple; they emphasized professionalism, trust, patience and communication.
They also wanted to give a ‘shout out’ to their kids back home: “Will you let Loni, Rudy and Lexi know that mom and dad loves them and we will be home soon!”
NTM-A is a coaltion of 38 troop contributing nations assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country’s security by 2014. For more information about NTM-A, visit www.ntm-a.com
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