Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
Bryan Tolley and his 18-month-old son, Ryan. While deployed, Tolley
would see children that would remind him of Ryan and immediately call
Last year, members of the 182nd National Guard
regiment marked Father's Day far away from their loved ones. This year,
they're home with their kids after a year in Afghanistan.
Bryan Tolley, 29, knows the challenges of being both a soldier and a
dad. His son, Ryan, is a shy, blonde 18-month-old who happily clings to
"Seeing his face light up when he
sees Dada come through his bedroom door instead of Mama because he's so
used to his mother — it's awesome. I love it," Tolley says.
from Plymouth, Mass., and at a Guard event in the state, he meets up
with his friends from deployment. They take turns playing with Ryan.
"I wouldn't trade being a father for the world. It's one of the coolest feelings in the world — it really is," Tolley says.
Ryan was just a newborn when Tolley was told he was shipping out to Afghanistan.
was tough at first. It's one thing to be prepared for a deployment.
It's another to know that you're going to be leaving a baby behind," he
says. "When we found out we were pregnant, it was the coolest feeling in
the world. But that was quickly shadowed by the fact that I was leaving
in a few months."
Like other soldiers who have to leave behind families, he missed a lot of "firsts."
"First steps, first time eating solid food by himself. He started talking while I was gone too," Tolley says.
was his first deployment overseas. Tolley's unit was in Zabul Province,
which is relatively stable. Tolley says the nights over there were
still, most of the time.
"I've learned a whole new definition of quiet, the creepy quiet," he says.
Now, "quiet" has another new definition.
"It's the good kind of quiet, the quiet when he's sleeping," Tolley says.
Tom Dreisbach/NPR Sgt.
Michael Clark and his fiancee, Kaitlin Forant, hold their son, Michael
Clark Jr. It took time for the 18-month-old to recognize his father
after Clark's deployment.
At the same Guard event, Sgt. Michael Clark
holds his son, Michael Clark Jr., who tries to squirm free. The meet-up
is a chance for Clark to reunite with the guys from his unit. He was
deployed to Nangarhar Province near the Pakistani border. Now,
Afghanistan seems a long ways away.
gonna see a lot of love, a lot of handshakes, hugs," he says. "It's a
big family, basically a big group of kids all in uniform. But we do love
each other, and I'm glad everyone came back safe."
He's right. Most of these soldiers are really young. Many, if not most of them, have kids of their own.
and fatherhood have forced them to grow up quickly. Sometimes, the
stress of those responsibilities can be overwhelming. Clark says it was
tough when he first came home to his family. They had changed, and he
had missed it.
"Overnight, your lives have
changed. Your family has gone on one more year," he says. "Your son has
grown up one more year, and you kinda have to catch up."
what these soldiers are doing. Yes, there is a lot of stress. Many of
them are now looking for regular civilian jobs. Some are dealing with
injuries, even post-traumatic stress disorder. And a lot of them, like
Tolley, are learning to be fathers for the first time
But unlike soldiering, this is a role that requires strength, endurance and sometimes complete surrender.
one thing I think is wicked cute is [Ryan] will actually blow kisses,
and he'll make the noise to go along with it," Tolley says. "He's always
laughing. He's always got a smile on his face."
So does his dad.