“You’re Involved in Something Bigger Than Yourself”
As the war in Afghanistan heats up, a Marine’s wife talks about her love for her husband and her pride in his service to the country
Kathy Roth-Duquet is a lawyer, the author of two books, AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes From the Military, and How Free People Move Mountains, and was an advisor to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. In addition, Kathy, 45, has been married to Greg, a Marine Corps officer, for the past 12 years. On Sept. 11 of this year – the 8th anniversary of the horrific terror attacks that plunged the United States into two wars – he left on his third deployment, this time to the city of Kabul in Afghanistan. While he takes part in a military campaign that is essential to the U.S. war on terrorism, Kathy and the couple’s children, 11-year-old Sophie and 7-year-old Charley, remain on the Parris Island, S.C. Marine base. Kathy talked to BettyConfidential about the lessons she’s learned from being a soldier’s wife:
What was it like for you during your husband’s first deployment?
Incredibly shocking. He was deployed at the end of 2002, before the war [in Iraq] started… and he came back in the summer of ’03. He was on the Kuwaiti border. I felt enormously unprepared facing that level of hardship. I had a 4-year-old and an infant. At a certain point, I figured out you just don’t watch TV. I learned that I couldn’t do a deployment [if I was] afraid. It didn’t work for me or my kids.
When did your husband return to the Middle East?
The second deployment was in 2005. My husband was commanding officer of a squadron. I learned how to cultivate a face that everything is going to be okay. I felt like my job was to keep everyone else strong –my husband and my kids. I was writing my book [AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes From the Military] and I enjoyed writing it. Without [the deployment], I might not have written it. And because the topic was related to my experience in the military, it was very therapeutic.
How did you react to the news of your husband’s third deployment?
He left on 9/11. We had a week’s notice. At first I was very upset. [But] I believe my family can handle this, and if he’s being asked to do something important, we can do that. We took a beachside vacation for one night. I made a full Thanksgiving dinner another night. We celebrated his birthday with cake and presents another night. And had a goodbye party…and he was gone. It was a real whirlwind. Not knowing [ahead of time] was great, actually, because we had no dread. We started him going in a good emotional state with our tanks full.