The second in a series of stories on life in a military family.
Having a parent deployed can be extremely tough on military families, but what about when mom or dad has an assignment at home? It must be a whole lot easier just because she or he isn’t overseas, right? Not necessarily!
Chris Flint, SFC in the US Army, and his family have experienced their fair share of military life during deployment. In his 16 years of service, including 11 years with the US Army Special Operations Aviation Unit as a helicopter gunner, he has been deployed 15 times. After being away for what totals more than three years, Chris is currently stationed at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona. And while he is thrilled to be home with his wife Megan and their three young children, he’s discovering it comes with its own set of challenges.
Being stationed stateside doesn’t mean a 9 to 5 job. Chris heads to work at 4:00 in the morning, and gets home after 6:00 at night…often six days a week. It’s exhausting for him, as well as the whole family. Cody (10), Madeleine (8), and Samantha (4) are excited to spend time with their dad after his long day, but Chris has only about an hour between when he gets home and when he needs to go to bed.
“I just want to grab something to eat and go to sleep.”
Chris says being at home is actually more difficult in many ways than being deployed. You quickly get used to and comfortable with the one-task nature and focus of deployment. At home, it’s all about multi-tasking.
“When you’re deployed, you’re very single-mission-focused. You workout, do your job, and go to bed…that’s it. At home, you have to be husband, father, employee…it’s more stressful.”
Megan says she has always adapted to Chris’ job, and has stayed at home since Cody was born. She agrees the hours on the job are the biggest challenge.
“It’s tough when people write things on Facebook…’Oh, my husband works 8-5!’ In the military you have to work as long as the job demands, whether it’s 8, 12, or more hours a day.”
That kind of schedule means that Megan is in charge of just about everything – meals, homework, bath time.
“I do the home stuff and he works. We just make it work.”
Communication is key to making it work, the Flints say, with both each other, and their children. They are open with the kids, as much as they can be, about what their dad does and how long he’ll be gone – both when he was deployed and now that he’s home and working long hours.
“We talk to them…we visit him at work. It’s important to see what he does, and they learn his purpose.”
Megan says growing up in a military family has made their children accustomed to constant change and adapting. It’s all they’ve ever known.
“The kids are used to saying hi to Daddy quickly, or goodbye to Daddy quickly. They don’t complain about it.”
Flexibility — it’s one of the beneficial byproducts for families with a military mom or dad. There are many other benefits too, Megan says. Between deployments, they traveled a lot, enjoying time together as a family.
“We’ve seen different countries in the world, met different friends, and been given a lot of different opportunities. We’ve had a good life in the military.”
After years of military life, moving from base to base and managing during deployments, the Flints are glad to be settled for a while in Arizona. They will happily put up with all of the challenges of a stateside assignment because it comes with another very important benefit… even after the long hours, Chris comes home every night safe and sound.