Friends, yoga, a family support group, online courses, a trip to England and a toddler lifted 24-year-old Samantha Windell out of her funk when her husband, Chase, went to war.
“The first few months after my husband deployed were miserable,” Windell admitted from her home in Bamberg, Germany. “I wanted to stay at home the whole time.”
When Spc. Chase Windell deployed to Afghanistan in May 2007, Sam had just arrived in Europe on her first assignment as an Army spouse, if you don’t count basic and advanced individual training.
“Three days after I arrived and joined Chase, he left for a month of field training a month before he deployed,” Sam said. “He’s seen his kid all of two months of his life.”
Damion is Sam and Chase’s 14-month-old son. Dad was there for his birth, however, and he did get to see Damion walking when he returned for rest and recuperation.
“He’s a miniature replica of my husband,” Sam confided. “Every time I look at him, I’m reminded of Chase.”
Mom and son aren’t housebound anymore though. Every other afternoon they head to the home of best friend Lauren Kemp, whose husband also is deployed. While Sam and Lauren release their stress through yoga, Damion plays with Lauren’s 4- and 5-year-olds, Emory and Darby. The families often share grocery expenses and have meals together.
They also travel together. To fight the holiday blues, they found discount flights, and moms and kids visited London for Thanksgiving.
“The biggest change I’ve seen in Sam is that she’s become independent,” said Lauren, whose husband, Spc. Dustin Kemp, is in the same unit as Chase: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The Kemps are experiencing their fourth deployment as a married couple, so Lauren has a veteran’s perspective.
“Sam has learned who she is,” Lauren continued, “outside of being Damion’s mom and Chase’s wife. It’s the most important thing the spouse of a deployed soldier can learn