Jacksonville veterans, families respond to U.S. order to Europe

President Biden announced Wednesday the U.S. is deploying troops to help defend European allies.
Jacksonville veterans, families respond to U.S. order to Europe
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 10:42 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - After President Biden’s announcement to send U.S. troops to Eastern Europe, including those based at Fort Bragg, to help defend NATO allies, the USO observed the mood at Fort Bragg on Wednesday outside the main gates.

“Having driven around the base recently, it’s very interesting to me that the mood is almost business as usual,” southeast region regional communications manager Barry Morris said. “But really not for those families and those who are about to deploy.”

The USO, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting service members in North Carolina, provides services such as preparing small items to give to troops before they leave.

Morris said it’s an effort to remind them of home, and military families in Jacksonville sympathized with those having to say goodbye.

Tricia Dyal, owner of Daddy Dolls, recalled her experience when her husband had to deploy 7 different times.

“We say it all the time that a deployment’s like a pregnancy,” Dyal said. “It’s never the same ... So, I think that probably the unexpected ones are obviously the hardest, but the ones that when they’re deployed in harm’s way, you’re just not sure what’s gonna happen, those seem to be the ones that hit us all the hardest.”

At this time, the Pentagon has not said anyone from Camp LeJeune is deploying, but for troops from the 82nd Airborne Division headed to Europe amid the Ukraine standoff, retired marine Lt. Col. Russell Jamison Jr. expressed his support.

“I have no doubt in my mind that those young professionals will do a magnificent job,” Jamison said. “Whatever they’ve been told to do. With that, we got to make sure that they have all the support and everything they need to succeed.”

Concerns linger after what happened in Afghanistan when the U.S. withdrew its troops.

“My concern after Afghanistan was how would our allies perceive our word?” Jamison said. “Are we sending forces in to do something and then we, all of a sudden pull them out, without the job being done?”

But for parents having to leave their families on short notice, Dyal said they fear losing their connection.

Dyal’s business, Daddy Dolls, aims to make the separation easier for kids by making dolls with a photo of their loved ones.

“The worst thing is the feeling of being forgotten and not knowing who they are when they come back,” Dyal said. “I think that that connection is so important to keep with a family and having something for them to hold on to while they’re gone makes them feel like they’re still part of every day.”

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