Dealing with Deployment--Part I

Jodi Powell
Jodi Powell

Right now, thousands of men and women from right here are far from home, fighting the war on terror. For generations, families have been sending their loved ones off to war. While the times, fashions, and technology may change, the emotional goodbyes are very much the same.

Fortunately, many are using technology to ease that separation and keep their deployed soldiers close to home.

In many ways, Jodi Powell is a typical mom, taking her son, Cole, to school. But her life has been full of surprises. The Army has taken her and her husband, Lance, and Cole, around the country and to places like Japan.

Staff Sgt. Lance Powell sings and plays in the Third ID band, but even band members get called to war. On January 24, Staff Sgt. Powell answered that call as he left for his first deployment. That same day, Jodi learned she would be undertaking a new mission of her own.

"We took a pregnancy test because it was the last one we had and we thought, why not? It came back positive," she said. "I thought it was a bad test and just too old. So Lance goes out and buys three more different brands and they were all the same, they all came out positive. It was a huge shock."

As Jodi and her husband said their goodbyes, they looked at the positive side of this "positive" news. "That was really a good gift to send him off with, that he had another little person to come home to, in addition to his son," Jodi said.

But spending at least a year apart means missing milestones. "He was with me the first time we were pregnant, so we were together," said Jodi. "He got to see all the changes, the mood swings, the happiness, the sadness. All that."

Family support is critical, and Jodi knows she's more fortunate than most. "It's been difficult, but it's also been really good because we are both from Hinesville. I've got my family support, I've got his family support. Also the support from his unit and we have church support."

Phone calls help. Jodi also sends copies of her sonograms overseas. And unlike the spouses left behind in wars past, they have the internet to keep them connected.

"I check email, I would say, at least three to four times a day," Jodi noted. "I always tell him when the next T-ball game is. He's still pretty involved in everything that's going on here at home which helps. He's not left out on anything."

They've even managed to see each other on THE News. When WTOC went to Kuwait, Mike Manhatton spoke with Staff Sgt. Powell. "The minute I saw it, I started crying, which could have been my hormones being all messed up, but that was like, so good, being able to see he was okay."

We were able to return the favor for Staff Sgt. Powell, and thanks to the internet he was able to see it. "Once I was interviewed, I told him about the website," Jodi said. "He went and looked it up and he was able to see me."

It all helps Cole, too. "He writes letters to his dad. He draws pictures. They make things at school. It's almost like he's here."

But Cole will have two birthdays before his father finally comes home from Iraq. And as far as their new addition, Jodi told us, "We'll take pictures and we'll send pictures through the internet, if he doesn't make it in time and hopefully he'll just have those to go on."

In the last two weeks, the Powells got another surprise. After two sonograms they were convinced they were having a boy. Now they've learned the baby is actually a girl.

Coming up tomorrow on THE News at 5, a military wife from Richmond Hill--who will be the first to tell you she was blessed with the gift of gab--is putting it to use helping other spouses deal with deployment and military life.

Reported by: Liz Flynn,