MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
The Pentagon announced this week that two units will be sent back to Iraq earlier than expected to support the troop increase there. That means they will not have the usual full year at home between deployments. Among them are about 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division who will be sent to Iraq nearly three months early. They should deploy sometime around September. It could be earlier.
The 4th ID is based at Fort Hood, Texas, and today I spoke with two military wives there about how this will affect families.
Diane Hammond is the wife of the division's commanding general, Jeffrey Hammond. Terry Batshelet's husband, Allen, is the 4th ID's chief of staff, and she says they knew another deployment was coming.
Ms. TERRY BATSHELET (Wife): It wasn't a surprise. This is something that we have known that probably was going to happen. Therefore we've actually been ready. So yeah, my feeling about it? Well, it kind of get you in the gut, thinking, okay, it's really going to happen now, so I'm not thrilled about it, but I know that it's what we do. And my children as well, we just - it's a reality of our lives, and so we'll just make the most of every moment that we have while he is, you know, not deployed.
BLOCK: Let's bring Diane Hammond in here. I suppose even if you know deep down that your spouses will be redeploying, you might not have expected that it would've been this soon, and that's got to be hard to take.
Ms. DIANE HAMMOND (Wife): Well, I think it is hard for our families, knowing that they're going back after just returning. But you know what? They're soldiers, and we're very proud of them, and they serve our nation, and we are at war. And you know, it's just a reality.
BLOCK: Terry, you were saying that your family is trying to treasure every moment. I wonder, when soldiers come back, and you may know deep down that they may be sent out again if you have sort of a mental clock going, you know you have so much time and you've sort of scheduled what you want to happen in that time. And now that it's cut short, that pace really has to be speeded up in some way.
Ms. BATSHELET: For my specific family, we have already made our plans, that we will have at least one time during the summer months that we will all be together as a family. In fact, my mother-in-law is coming to visit at the end of April because she'd like to see her son while he is here. And we're not in the last moments of getting ready for deployment, which is generally the busiest time. You know, my daughter will be a senior in high school next year. We've already talked about the things that dad will not be here for. And I think that's a very healthy thing to do, so that she can somewhat prepare it in her mind. My kids deal with it.
Ms. HAMMOND: And with the family time, my husband is trying really hard to protect the weekends now, so that families can do things together, anticipating that they will be gone for a year or so.
Ms. BATSHELET: Well - and this is Terry, again - it makes our family very aware of any moment that we can have to take the time to do something special. So in that regard I see it as a very actually positive thing because all Americans' lives are very busy, and it is hard to make that time for families. So just this past weekend, my husband, you know, took our daughter and they went on a little trip to go see the wildflowers, which are in great bloom here in central Texas. And that was a very great, special time for them.
BLOCK: Diane, when we were at Fort Hood a couple of months ago, I spoke with your husband. And he said that in the past, when he's been deployed, he knows that you will be afraid to answer the phone when it rings at night, because you're fearful of what you might hearing on the other end of that line.
Ms. HAMMOND: Well, I mean, I'm afraid to hear the phone ring at night anytime. But you know, yeah, it is scary. We're losing our treasures, our soldiers, you know, over there. And it's hard. But we're coping.
BLOCK: What have you been told about how long this next deployment will be?
Ms. BATSHELET: Well, we're planning for one year. But whenever we say one year, we really have that with a plus or minus sign on either side.
Ms. HAMMOND: I don't think we have an end date. We just, you know...
Ms. BATSHELET: Yeah, we don't. At this point I don't think it's been announced. But I think that's what most people just internally know.
Ms. HAMMOND: We just - we get to take every day as it comes.
BLOCK: Well, Terry Batshelet and Diane Hammond, thanks very much for talking with us.
Ms. HAMMOND: Okay.
Ms. BATSHELET: Thank you.
Ms. HAMMOND: Thank you.
BLOCK: Terry Batshelet's husband, Colonel Allan Batshelet is the chief of staff for the 4th Infantry Division. Diane Hammond is the wife of Jeffrey Hammond, the 4th ID's commanding general. They spoke with us from Fort Hood, Texas, where about 1,000 soldiers will be heading back to Iraq earlier than planned to support the build-up of troops.
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