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Soldiers and Families Prepare for a One Year Deployment to Afghanistan

In the two wars the U.S. is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the headlines often tell the stories of the men and women serving there. But one aspect of the military often overlooked is the effect their absence has on the loved ones they leave behind. More 300 Missouri National Guard soldiers are currently training at Camp Clark in Nevada, Missouri, for a one year mission to Afghanistan. More than 40 of these soldiers and their families live in Springfield. KSMU’s Matt Evans caught up with the wife of one of the soldiers and files this report.

Christy and Michael Brake were married a little over a year ago. Michael is training at Camp Clark with the 203rd Engineer Battalion, preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan where his unit will be clearing improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, from Afghan roadways. Michael has been with the Missouri National Guard for two years, but previously was with the Army for 14. While with the Army, he was deployed to Iraq and Japan, but this is Christy’s first experience with her soldier going overseas.

“It scares me. I mean, I’m not going to lie. It does scare me because as much as I try not to, I still see little commercials of the news and stuff and it’s not good right now. So, I’m just scared.”

Christy and Michael have two children: Chelsea, who turns four later this month, and Noah, who is almost two. Michael also has 16-year-old son who lives in Protem, in Taney County. This is Michael’s third deployment overseas, but Christy says that doesn’t make it any easier for him.

“He’s pretty stressed out about it. I mean, just the fact that he has to leave his kids and his family here to go over there and there could be a possibility that we won’t see him for at least a year.”

Christy is aware that there is also a possibility that Michael may not be coming home. She says she tries not to think about it, but knows she would have a lot of support from friends and family if he did die in combat.

“The most that I worry about are the kids, because Chelsea is such a daddy’s girl. I mean she is Daddy 24/7 if he could be here.”

Christy doesn’t know if she will get to see Michael before he leaves for Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, on September 20th. If Michael does get to come home before leaving, Christy plans on having Chelsea’s fourth birthday party while he’s here.

Christy said she will miss her husband’s companionship the most while he is gone.

“Having someone here all the time, that’s the part that’s going to be bad too. I mean, I have all kinds of friends and family and they will always be there for me and I understand that, but I’d rather have my husband.”

Michael and the other 300 Missouri National Guard soldiers are scheduled to leave for Afghanistan in late October.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.