Every day Cpl. Adam Galvez was in Iraq, the first thought in the morning and last thought in the evening for his mother, Amy Galvez, was about her son but her boy, a Marine, would not make it back home alive.
"I felt like I was in this war, as well," Galvez said during a panel discussion Friday at the University of Utah. The topic was how families of deployed loved ones also serve. "A big part of my heart was there I felt like I had been deployed as well."
Jeanine Lundell faced raising her four children alone when her husband, 2nd Lt. Scott Lundell, left for Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard. What was supposed to be a temporary reality, however, became permanent last year when she was informed her husband had been killed by the Taliban.
"There's a void in your life," Lundell thought when her husband was first deployed. "I was responsible for everything. It was huge deployment is very, very hard on families."
Now the Galvez and Lundell families say they have inherited a much larger military family that over the past year has helped them with questions about their loved ones and how to cope with their losses.
"You have a million questions," Lundell said. "You want to know it all, the little details, because it's healing."
But it's not only death that forces families to employ coping mechanisms.
Recently retired Col. Linda Higgins, also a panelist, talked about how her children coped during separate deployments for her and her husband, Lynn, who is also in the Guard and was gone for almost 2 1/2 years straight. With one daughter, for example, Lynn was usually the "bad cop" while Mom and daughter had more of a "best friends" relationship but that had to change.
"When he left I had to do it all," Higgins said. And her daughter "didn't like it."
While Higgins was in Bosnia 10 years ago, she made sure there were small gifts for her children that her husband secretly put into the mailbox on Fridays to let them know she was thinking of them. And the coping, Higgins explained, doesn't end when the deployment is over.
She said the military needs to continue supporting families impacted by a military member's post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, failing marriages or otherwise "poor choices" some are making as they have trouble readjusting to civilian life.
"That's hard for me, because they've given a lot," Higgins said about veterans who experience such problems back home.
Panelists Maj. Gen. Peter S. Cooke, current commander of the 96th Regional Readiness Command, and Utah Guard commander Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet have time and again watched how hard deployment is on the faces of family members as they say goodbye to loved ones. Cooke said he has seen "fear" in those faces. Tarbet recalled somber, "prayerful" looks."It's a very, very difficult thing to watch," Tarbet said. "You just sit and watch it's very sobering."