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The Gomez Family

Aaron Nystrom

Our Parents Are Soldiers

Daniel and Isabella Gomez’s mom and dad are in the Army. What’s life like for the kids when their parents are serving overseas?

In July 2016, 10-year-old Daniel Gomez and his 5-year-old sister, Isabella, said a tearful goodbye to their mom and dad. Their parents, Jose and Elizabeth, are in the U.S. Army. They were being deployed to Kuwait, a country in the Middle East. It’s about 7,000 miles away from their home in El Paso, Texas. They wouldn’t return for nine months. 

“The hardest part about it was that I couldn’t see them in person and I couldn’t hug them,” Daniel says. 

Daniel and Isabella are among the nearly 2 million kids in the U.S. who have at least one parent in the military. While their parents have the difficult job of keeping America safe, these kids often face challenges of their own. 

It was July 2016. Ten-year-old Daniel Gomez and his 5-year-old sister, Isabella, said a tearful goodbye to their mom and dad. Their parents, Jose and Elizabeth, are in the U.S. Army. They were being deployed to Kuwait. That country is in the Middle East. It’s about 7,000 miles away from their home in El Paso, Texas. They wouldn’t return for nine months.

“The hardest part about it was that I couldn’t see them in person and I couldn’t hug them,” Daniel says.

Daniel and Isabella are among the nearly 2 million kids in the U.S. who have at least one parent in the military. Their parents have the difficult job of keeping America safe. Meanwhile, these kids often face challenges of their own. 

Parents On Duty

Last year’s deployment wasn’t the first for either of the Gomezes. In 2010, Elizabeth had been sent to Afghanistan, a country in Asia where U.S. troops have been fighting for the past 16 years (see “Fighting Overseas,” below). Her job is to keep track of everything that her Army unit needs as it moves—such as food, ammunition, supplies, and tanks and other vehicles. 

Jose is an artillery targeting officer. He uses  maps and computers to locate enemy targets and helps commanders come up with a plan of attack. Jose has been deployed overseas five times, including three tours of duty in Afghanistan. 

But last year marked the first time that both parents were sent overseas at the same time. Their Army units were sent to Kuwait in case they needed to assist with military operations in Afghanistan or another nearby country. After a few months, Jose’s unit was moved to Iraq, where the U.S. is helping in the fight against terrorists. 

Last year’s deployment wasn’t the first for either of the Gomezes. In 2010, Elizabeth had been sent to Afghanistan, a country in Asia. U.S. troops have been fighting there for the past 16 years (see “Fighting Overseas,” below). Her job is to keep track of everything that her Army unit needs as it moves. That includes food, ammunition, supplies, and tanks and other vehicles.

Jose is an artillery targeting officer. He uses maps and computers to locate enemy targets and helps commanders come up with a plan of attack. Jose has been deployed overseas five times. That includes three tours of duty in Afghanistan.

But last year marked the first time that both parents were sent overseas at the same time. Their Army units were sent to Kuwait in case they needed to assist with military operations in Afghanistan or another nearby country. After a few months, Jose’s unit was moved to Iraq. In Iraq, the U.S. is helping in the fight against terrorists. 

A World Apart

Daniel and Isabella had to adjust to life without their parents. They went to live with their grandparents in Tampa, Florida. Daniel says he missed going to the movies and playing basketball with his parents. He also missed the feeling of knowing they’d be home to greet him after school. Plus, he sometimes worried for his parents’ safety. 

“I get nervous, like I don’t know what’s going on,” Daniel says.  

Talking to his parents on FaceTime on his smartphone helped him deal with the stress. Daniel and Isabella chatted with their parents every couple of days while they were deployed. Because of the time difference, when it’s morning in Florida, it’s the evening in Kuwait and Iraq. So Daniel and Isabella had to talk with their parents early in the morning or late at night. Daniel treasured those moments. 

“I would tell them that I miss them,” says Daniel. “They calmed me down.”

Still, Daniel says the happiest day of his life was when his mom and dad made a surprise return home last March.

Daniel and Isabella had to adjust to life without their parents. They went to live with their grandparents in Tampa, Florida. Daniel says he missed going to the movies and playing basketball with his parents. He also missed the feeling of knowing they’d be home to greet him after school. Plus, he sometimes worried about his parents’ safety.

“I get nervous, like I don’t know what’s going on,” Daniel says. 

Daniel talked to his parents on FaceTime on his smartphone. That helped him deal with the stress. Daniel and Isabella chatted with their parents every couple of days while they were deployed. Because of the time difference, when it’s morning in Florida, it’s the evening in Kuwait and Iraq. So Daniel and Isabella had to talk with their parents early in the morning or late at night. Daniel treasured those moments.

“I would tell them that I miss them,” says Daniel. “They calmed me down.”

Still, Daniel says the happiest day of his life was when his mom and dad made a surprise return home last March. 

On the Move

For many military kids, life can still be difficult even when their parents aren’t overseas. They have to endure frequent moves when their parents get relocated to different bases in the U.S. In addition to living in Texas and Florida, Daniel has lived in North Carolina and Virginia. 

Daniel’s dad knows what that’s like for his kids. His father was also in the military. 

“You make friends for two or three years, you become comfortable, you know the people, you know the area, and then you just pick up and move and start from scratch,” Jose says.

But Daniel says he has gotten used to the moves and making friends in new places. Despite the difficulties, he’s proud of his parents. He even wants to join the military when he grows up.

“I’m glad they have this job and that they’re serving this country,” says Daniel.

For many military kids, life can still be difficult even when their parents aren’t overseas. They have to endure frequent moves when their parents get relocated to different bases in the U.S. Daniel hasn’t lived only in Texas and Florida. He has also lived in North Carolina and Virginia.

Daniel’s dad knows what that’s like for his kids. His father was also in the military.

“You make friends for two or three years, you become comfortable, you know the people, you know the area, and then you just pick up and move and start from scratch,” Jose says.

But Daniel says he has gotten used to the moves. He’s also gotten used to making friends in new places. Despite the difficulties, he’s proud of his parents. He even wants to join the military when he grows up.

“I’m glad they have this job and that they’re serving this country,” says Daniel.

Thousands of U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here’s why. 

Taking On the Taliban 

Jim McMahon/Mapman®

The war in Afghanistan began in response to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The following month, the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan to hunt down members of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the attacks. The terrorists were being protected by a group called the Taliban that was in control of Afghanistan. 

The U.S. and its allies toppled the Taliban and killed or captured many of the terrorists. But the Taliban have been fighting to regain control of the country ever since. About 11,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in Afghanistan. In August, President Donald Trump announced that he would be sending more U.S. troops there.

In the past 16 years, more than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan and more than 20,000 have been wounded.

The war in Afghanistan began in response to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The following month, the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan to hunt down members of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the attacks. The terrorists were being protected by a group called the Taliban that was in control of Afghanistan. 

The U.S. and its allies toppled the Taliban and killed or captured many of the terrorists. But the Taliban have been fighting to regain control of the country ever since. About 11,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in Afghanistan. In August, President Donald Trump announced that he would be sending more U.S. troops there.

In the past 16 years, more than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan and more than 20,000 have been wounded.

The Fight Against ISIS

The U.S. fought a war in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and American troops are still serving there. 

Now they’re helping Iraqi forces fight a terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The group has been trying to take over Iraq and the neighboring country of Syria. It has also threatened to destroy the U.S. About 6,000 U.S. troops are fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (American troops are also battling ISIS in Afghanistan and other countries.) 

Since 2003, more than 4,500 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

The U.S. fought a war in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and American troops are still serving there. 

Now they’re helping Iraqi forces fight a terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The group has been trying to take over Iraq and the neighboring country of Syria. It has also threatened to destroy the U.S. About 6,000 U.S. troops are fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (American troops are also battling ISIS in Afghanistan and other countries.) 

Since 2003, more than 4,500 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images

A U.S. soldier walks past a tank at a military base in Iraq.

1. Summarize some of the challenges that Daniel and Isabella faced when their parents were deployed last year.

2. What is the section “Parents On Duty” mostly about? How does it differ from the rest of the article? 

3. How does Daniel feel about his parents serving in the military?

4. What is the purpose of the sidebar “Fighting Overseas”? How does it relate to the article?

1. Summarize some of the challenges that Daniel and Isabella faced when their parents were deployed last year.

2. What is the section “Parents On Duty” mostly about? How does it differ from the rest of the article? 

3. How does Daniel feel about his parents serving in the military?

4. What is the purpose of the sidebar “Fighting Overseas”? How does it relate to the article?

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