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Dual Military Couple Prepares for Deployment

     HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Things were a lot different professionally and personally for Lt. Col. Jennifer M. Hoyle, a V Corps G2 staff officer, when she deployed in support of Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1990.  She was a newly-married young officer with no children and no formal family support system functioning to the standard of today’s family readiness groups. 

     “We had a justice of the peace wedding [Stateside] and about two or three days later, I sent her.... to Just Cause,” her husband Philip,  said.  “Sixteen years later, we just celebrated our anniversary and I’m sending her off to war again.”

     Jennifer is preparing to embark on a yearlong deployment to Iraq as the corps returns downrange to serve as the command element of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq.  She now has 18 years of service to her credit; two daughters, Amanda and Lindsay, ages 4 and 2; and her husband Philip, also a lieutenant colonel, commands 43rd Signal Battalion.

     “Having children is what makes this [deployment] different,” Jennifer said.  “Back then [during Just Cause] I was eager to get married, but eager to get back to the task at hand.  It’s a little harder to leave when you’re leaving loved ones that include children, I think.” 

     These Soldier parents have done everything possible to allow for as much normalcy as possible during the deployment.

     “What we’ve told the girls is that Mommy’s going on a really big trip to do a very important mission,” said Jennifer.  “We have a globe at home and we’ve shown Amanda where I’m going.”

     It will take a virtual community to raise this family in the mother’s absence.

     Last May, they hired a full-time live-in nanny in preparation for the deployment.

     Considering the demands on Philip as a commander, the pair said they wanted the nanny to be familiar with their values and things they do so that she could continue with them during Jennifer’s absence.

     “The demands of being a commander are pretty high in terms of being called out at any time or having to go answer the midnight calls,” said Philip.  “By having a nanny in place, she’s really become an extension of our family.”

     Philip said he and Jennifer also get a lot of support from family in the States. 

     “The willingness of both our families to come over here at a moment’s notice is a tremendous comfort,” he said.

     Philip and Jennifer’s families are no strangers to the dedication and sacrifice required of military families.  Both proudly proclaim themselves to be Army brats.  Jennifer is a third-generation service member; her father retired as a colonel.  Philip, who has 20 years of service to his credit, is a second-generation service member; his father retired as a lieutenant colonel.  Additionally, his brother-in-law just returned from Iraq.

     Philip says this deployment is a family effort first.

     The support provided to the Hoyles by family readiness groups underscores his point.  Jennifer has been a key advisor in the 43rd Signal Battalion Family Readiness Group during her husband’s command. 

     Now, she says Philip can tap into two other FRGs to support him through the deployment – the Special Troops Battalion FRG for all corps members and V Corps G2 FRG.

     “In preparation for the deployment, these FRGs have increased their visibility and contact with the Soldiers and their families,” Jennifer said. 

    “They make sure they are informed about what’s going on and know the resources available to the families that remain here.  These organizations have definitely come a long way and their mission has gotten a lot more of the credit that it has deserved for a really long time.”

   Jennifer said she really thinks it’s hitting home to Soldiers, civilians and families how important FRGs and rear detachments are. 

     She said their functions will be the lifeline for a really long time.

     This deployment will be the longest period of time Jennifer has been away from her family.  She is still as eager to get to the task at hand as she was during her younger years, but now with a husband and two young girls at home, she has even more to look forward to returning home to.  She hopes to schedule her rest and recuperation leave to sync with Philip’s change of command in June.

 
 
 
 

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