Heart on the homefront

Full story: Chicago Tribune

KABUL , Afghanistan -- In the predawn darkness, Ashley Calhoun's laptop cast a blue glow over her tiny Army National Guard cubicle as she adjusted her Web camera so she could be seen in her living room back home.
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1 - 20 of 28 Comments Last updated Aug 3, 2009
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colleen

Westmont, IL

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#1
Aug 1, 2009
 
Thank you for your many sacrifices in an attempt to keep this country strong. Zoey will one day understand how much her mother and father have truly done for her and be very proud. Stay safe and stay tough.
Fran

Chicago, IL

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#2
Aug 1, 2009
 
God bless you and all you are doing for us. My son is also in the service and currently in Iraq. My daughter-in-law was also in Iraq. While she was deployed we raised their little girl from the time she was 13 months until she was 26 months. My heart just broke for you when I read your story because we lived it 1st hand. I know the depths of your sacrifice and truly appreciate it. I will pray that you return home safely and very soon. I will also pray for your husband and daughter that they remain strong until your return. Thank you for keeping us free.
my 2cents

Wheaton, IL

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#3
Aug 1, 2009
 
For what it's worth, unless trauma is involved, children remember very little of their lives before age 4. As long as the little one is loved and well cared for, she will welcome Mother back and be none the worse for it.
Mom, on the other hand, is having a tough time of it and I feel deeply for her. Firmly believe mothers should NOT be serving in this capacity.
Independent Voter Joliet

Joliet, IL

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#4
Aug 1, 2009
 
I sometimes wonder if technology is always a good thing.. it is wonderful for mother to see her daughter.. but those feelings it brings up can hinder her clear thinking which could be a danger to her and others depending on her.. however the wonderful images she sees of her daughter forever will remain with her.. sometimes good things are two edged swords..
Thank You for your service to our country please keep your head up.. you'll be home soon and this will be a distant memory..
Mom

Forest Park, IL

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#5
Aug 1, 2009
 
"but those feelings it brings up can hinder her clear thinking which could be a danger to her and others depending on her."

Whaaat? I can't believe you just wrote that! Her thinking is clear as a bell.Is there a reason for your doubt? You would NEVER say that about a man.
Independent Voter Joliet

Joliet, IL

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#6
Aug 1, 2009
 
Mom wrote:
"but those feelings it brings up can hinder her clear thinking which could be a danger to her and others depending on her."
Whaaat? I can't believe you just wrote that! Her thinking is clear as a bell.Is there a reason for your doubt? You would NEVER say that about a man.
OH yes I would.. lets face it men and women are individuals.. there are some women who are better than men in a man's world and there are men that suck at it.. and visa versa..
Remember back when they only had still pictures.. it would have been easier in most cases to detach then form seeing a live transmission of where you wish you were at that time.. and try to put your head back to where you are.. it would be harder..
Don't get bent out of shape I am sure that she got her head back where she was but it was HARDER.. If you only want to beleive that I would think it would only happen to a women your wrong a man could have these same feelings too.. it's just seeing things real time as compared to seeing a picture has a bigger impact..
TELL THE TRUTH

United States

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#7
Aug 2, 2009
 
There are literally thousands of people in the U.S. who 'joined' the military for the easyh money associated with national gaurd, who had no intention to EVER actually fight. We were not in conflict so it was a simple and easy way to say "I DID MY SERVICE AREN"T I COOL?", and now that they found themselves deployed we have these bleeding hearts making them into martyrs. The true heroes are those who joined after the conflict started because they WANTED ti make a difference. They are the ones who EARN my sympathy and my respect, they are the ones I salute. They are the ones I cry for at night. I am to old to serve now and when I was of an age to serve the recruiter told me and I qoute, "get a job boy, we are trying to bring men home from Viet-Nam not send them". I grew up just waiting for the day I would be old enough to go and then got turned down just because the military was full and there was no war to fight, go figure.
Wolff

United States

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#8
Aug 2, 2009
 
TELL THE TRUTH wrote:
There are literally thousands of people in the U.S. who 'joined' the military for the easyh money associated with national gaurd, who had no intention to EVER actually fight. We were not in conflict so it was a simple and easy way to say "I DID MY SERVICE AREN"T I COOL?", and now that they found themselves deployed we have these bleeding hearts making them into martyrs. The true heroes are those who joined after the conflict started because they WANTED ti make a difference. They are the ones who EARN my sympathy and my respect, they are the ones I salute. They are the ones I cry for at night. I am to old to serve now and when I was of an age to serve the recruiter told me and I qoute, "get a job boy, we are trying to bring men home from Viet-Nam not send them". I grew up just waiting for the day I would be old enough to go and then got turned down just because the military was full and there was no war to fight, go figure.
regardless of their reasons for joining, they still joined and they are still over there serving and making sacrifices. that does not make them any less heroic. I'm sorry you were never able to realize your own goals of serving, but don't discredit others just because you feel their motives weren't "right." They are still doing the same work, and the same sacrifices.
Sad

Elgin, IL

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#9
Aug 2, 2009
 
I don't know how any mother could be away this long from her child. I could not do it. I would go crazy!!!
My husband was gone when my daughter was young. HE came back when she was 15 months old. She was mad at him for about a year, then they became good buddies.
That guy

Schaumburg, IL

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#10
Aug 2, 2009
 
An excellent exposition of why women do NOT belong in the military. "Mommy" should be at home with her kids, not half a world away doing a man's job.
too old

New Haven, IN

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#11
Aug 2, 2009
 
Mothers should be home with their kids. Period. Once again, the military should be ashamed, and moms need to learn that it's not about them once they have a child. Poor Zoey.
Independent Voter Joliet

Joliet, IL

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#12
Aug 2, 2009
 
That guy wrote:
An excellent exposition of why women do NOT belong in the military. "Mommy" should be at home with her kids, not half a world away doing a man's job.
As sexist as that sounds it would be nice in a perfect world..and I respect each and every person men and women who are serving in our military.. however.. we have so called MEN who wouldn't lift a finger or risk their lives for their families let alone their country.. they are to busy parting and living at home with mom and dad to want to give up the good life.. I would say that mandatory military at age 18 regardless of school would be a good idea for them but we all know that law would only apply to the poor of this nation while the Politicians and elites would make sure that their sons would NOT serve.. as has been proven by the past.. so we have recruiters at schools across the country feeding propaganda to our young women as well as men telling them how great this will be for them.. never telling them that it means lengthy separations from their new born would be so stressful..
Ella

Villa Park, IL

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#13
Aug 2, 2009
 
Independent Voter Joliet wrote:
<quoted text>
As sexist as that sounds it would be nice in a perfect world..and I respect each and every person men and women who are serving in our military.. however.. we have so called MEN who wouldn't lift a finger or risk their lives for their families let alone their country.. they are to busy parting and living at home with mom and dad to want to give up the good life.. I would say that mandatory military at age 18 regardless of school would be a good idea for them but we all know that law would only apply to the poor of this nation while the Politicians and elites would make sure that their sons would NOT serve.. as has been proven by the past.. so we have recruiters at schools across the country feeding propaganda to our young women as well as men telling them how great this will be for them.. never telling them that it means lengthy separations from their new born would be so stressful..
Easy...If you're a woman in the military with the prospect of being activated...DON't get pregnant! I am grateful to all the men and women who serve, but unfortunately, sacrifices are made not only by mothers, but fathers as well.

Also, as far as the "elite" making sure their boys don't serve...this is drivel. Many of the "elite" started in the military. Having 4 sons, I don't agree with a draft. My oldest son wants to fly F-16s and attend the Air Force Academy. My other boys want to do other worthwhile things like engineering and medicine. They're not partying, but they are working hard in school. What a parent teaches their child determines the kind of parent and person they will be in the future. I agree that there are MANY men & women who wouldn't even die for their own child let alone the country. Our government enables this attitude. Why are there so many babies with no fathers? They aren't held accountable. If men were forced to be financially and emotionally involved, as well as be physicially present, they'd watch where they were sticking themselves. These goofs were taught by their own parents (either verbally or through action), that there are no consequences for anything you do. I say, put their butts in the military, and beat the crap out of them regardless of race, religion, sex, etc.
Ella

Villa Park, IL

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#14
Aug 2, 2009
 
too old wrote:
Mothers should be home with their kids. Period. Once again, the military should be ashamed, and moms need to learn that it's not about them once they have a child. Poor Zoey.
Sure, it's the fault of the military. Poor everyone.
Babylonsista

Belleville, IL

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#15
Aug 2, 2009
 
Ella wrote:
<quoted text> Easy...If you're a woman in the military with the prospect of being activated...DON't get pregnant! I am grateful to all the men and women who serve, but unfortunately, sacrifices are made not only by mothers, but fathers as well.
Also, as far as the "elite" making sure their boys don't serve...this is drivel. Many of the "elite" started in the military. Having 4 sons, I don't agree with a draft. My oldest son wants to fly F-16s and attend the Air Force Academy. My other boys want to do other worthwhile things like engineering and medicine. They're not partying, but they are working hard in school. What a parent teaches their child determines the kind of parent and person they will be in the future. I agree that there are MANY men & women who wouldn't even die for their own child let alone the country. Our government enables this attitude. Why are there so many babies with no fathers? They aren't held accountable. If men were forced to be financially and emotionally involved, as well as be physicially present, they'd watch where they were sticking themselves. These goofs were taught by their own parents (either verbally or through action), that there are no consequences for anything you do. I say, put their butts in the military, and beat the crap out of them regardless of race, religion, sex, etc.
elite = Cheney, Bush, most members of Congress, most rich people and their children, etc. but you know this
too old

New Haven, IN

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#16
Aug 2, 2009
 
Independent Voter Joliet wrote:
<quoted text>
As sexist as that sounds it would be nice in a perfect world..and I respect each and every person men and women who are serving in our military.. however.. we have so called MEN who wouldn't lift a finger or risk their lives for their families let alone their country.. they are to busy parting and living at home with mom and dad to want to give up the good life.. I would say that mandatory military at age 18 regardless of school would be a good idea for them but we all know that law would only apply to the poor of this nation while the Politicians and elites would make sure that their sons would NOT serve.. as has been proven by the past.. so we have recruiters at schools across the country feeding propaganda to our young women as well as men telling them how great this will be for them.. never telling them that it means lengthy separations from their new born would be so stressful..
Maybe the poor need the mandatory service. It would keep gang members off the streets and give them a productive outlet. It wouldn't prevent the "elite" from joining, but it would guide some of those who lack the drive and initiative to be productive members of society.
too old

New Haven, IN

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#17
Aug 2, 2009
 
Ella wrote:
<quoted text> Sure, it's the fault of the military. Poor everyone.
Not only the military... the women, too.

The military does not value the American family. It doesn't take into account the years these soldiers are away from their loved ones, and insist that they do more than 2 tours. It's sanctioned abandonment. More soldiers should stand up and fight this, but the military does a great job of brainwashing these soldiers with their "break them down and build them back up (to do what we want)" practices.

As for women in the military... either postpone having kids, or leave before you start your family. It's not fair, and borderline abusive, to have Mom away from her child for so long.

Yes, it's different than having Dad away. It just is. Moms are the nurturers.

(and lest we pull the "sexist male" card, I'm a woman and a mother)
bob1stshirt

Carol Stream, IL

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#18
Aug 2, 2009
 
For those who have served, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.

There are all too few of us who know what it is like to be cold, wet, hungry, afraid... and ten thousand miles from home. But we serve in defense of our people and our way of life.
Mom wrote:
"but those feelings it brings up can hinder her clear thinking which could be a danger to her and others depending on her."
Whaaat? I can't believe you just wrote that! Her thinking is clear as a bell.Is there a reason for your doubt? You would NEVER say that about a man.
Mom, first, and most importantly, this young woman's mind needs to be on her job in Afghanistan. Distractions and a wandering mind can lead her, and those she serves with, to injury or death. That's a fact!

Secondly, don't be so sure that something like this would never be said about, or to, a man. I can personally attest that it has.

Lastly, even taking my first point into consideration, Ms. Calhoun's service and dedication to her country - at the cost of a great burden to herself, her husband, and even her young daughter - are honorable and courageous.

I would counsel young Ashley to seriously consider her re-enlistment. It all counts at twenty; she already has twelve years of service. From personal experience, I can tell you it is much more difficult to perform weekend drills, and go on long term deployments, when your children are 10, 12 or 16.

What you are going through now, as with all things, will pass. But when you're child is twenty and in need of assistance for college, the benefits that go with a military retirement will be very helpful. Under the new GI Bill, Ashley may even be able to transfer some of those benefits to her daughter. AND Ashley and her husband will enjoy her military pension for a good many years while she simultaneously enjoys spending time with her own (grown-up) children and grandchildren.
bob1stshirt

Carol Stream, IL

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#19
Aug 2, 2009
 
too old wrote:
<quoted text>
Not only the military... the women, too.
The military does not value the American family. It doesn't take into account the years these soldiers are away from their loved ones, and insist that they do more than 2 tours. It's sanctioned abandonment. More soldiers should stand up and fight this, but the military does a great job of brainwashing these soldiers with their "break them down and build them back up (to do what we want)" practices.
Oh, PUH-leeeze. Don't let your emotions overrun your intellect. Our society wants its toys - cable TV, text and internet cell phones, fast food, big houses, nice cars, etc., but no on stops to REALLY consider what it takes to make all this happen or what it takes to maintain it. We want what we want but, the vast majority, are unwilling to invest the personal time and sacrifice to protect it all. If anyone's to "blame" for this it is our society.

The military has a job. As a segment of the government, the military is arguably the most effective and efficient at providing what is expected of it.(After forty years of government programs and many billions of dollars, we still have a long way to go to ensure that johnny can read, write, and do 'rithmatic. Ditto for eliminating poverty.)

This is what the military does. Ms. Calhoun knew the job wasn't easy when she took it. She even re-enlisted once. She said she was interested in the retirement benefits... Well, you gotta give up something in order to get something. No free lunch here.
too old wrote:
As for women in the military... either postpone having kids, or leave before you start your family. It's not fair, and borderline abusive, to have Mom away from her child for so long.
Yes, it's different than having Dad away. It just is. Moms are the nurturers.
(and lest we pull the "sexist male" card, I'm a woman and a mother)
Oh, this is sexist to be sure. You're saying that dad doesn't matter. That a child can grow up just fine if dad isn't around. Well, 70% of all black children are born out of wedlock and we need only look at the high crime rate, high drop-out rate, high unemployement rate, and low college graduation rate to see a few problems with fatherless children.

Over two thirds of ALL children who live in fatherless homes live in poverty. A boy without his own father in the home is twice as likely to spend time in jail while still a teenager. A girl without her own father in the home is twice as likely to have an out of wedlock pregnancy. A child, boy or girl, who does not have their own father in the home is MUCH more likely to become the victim of physical or sexual abuse.

Let's make no mistake here, mothers play a VERY important role in raising children but fathers also have a VERY important role to play.
QuigleySouthRule s

Park Hills, MO

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#20
Aug 2, 2009
 
What a sacrifice this young family is making for all of us Americans to have freedom and safety. I wish nothing but the best for this young family and pray that they will be reunited as a family as soon as possible. May the Lord watch over Ashley and keep her out of harms way. Keep up the struggle and hard work raising that little girl Dad, what you are doing is priceless. I will pray for your safety and happiness....

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