My name is Kim Mills and the army has been a part of my entire adult life. My husband, Nathan, enlisted in 1999 when he was 17, making him the 5th generation in his family to do so. I had just turned 20 and Nathan was 19 when we were married in 2001. Since then, we’ve had three children and have been through almost two years of deployment to Afghanistan.
We have managed to spend all of his 11-year military career at the same posting, and because of that have managed to make amazing connections and friends both within his regiment, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and the community where we live. We have a supportive church that has made up for physical distance between us and our extended families, and a strong faith that has held us together in the hardest of times.My husband’s first tour was only months after 9/11 and weeks after we found out we were expecting our first child. Since then he has returned twice to Afghanistan, to Kabul in 2004-05 and back to Kandahar in 2007-08, returning home just 20 hours before our third child was born.
After over nine years of marriage, I’ve stopped adding up how many of those years we have spent apart. I have learned that love is worth missing sometimes. My kids miss their daddy every time he leaves, but they cherish their time with him all the more when he is home.
Though the youngest, Jonas (almost three) and Ivy, 5, are still not able to really understand, my oldest son, eight-year-old Caleb, beams with pride when he sees his dad, and proudly identifies himself as an “army brat.” It can be hard on them, but they are resilient and have a very special bond with their dad that never fades despite their time apart.
My husband has spent two Remembrance Days in Afghanistan. Though he is not a chaplain, he was privileged to help lead a Remembrance Day service at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan 2007. And through it all, Remembrance Day has grown in meaning for our whole family.
I can still remember the challenges of Nathan’s first tour. I recall getting a phone call from a friend late at night, asking me whether I had heard from my husband. She told me that she heard that something terrible had happened and quickly felt guilty when she realized I had not heard. At the time, the army wasn’t ready for the speed of the media when the news stations began to announce that four soldiers had been killed in Kandahar. No names were released. In a panic, I called the family support unit at my husband’s regiment but they couldn’t confirm whether my husband was alive or dead….
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