4th of July an emotional time for military families dealing with long separations


Military families often spend long periods of time apart. Eyewitness News’ Jay Leonardi sat down with his two morning cohorts, Meteorologist Kristin Cwynar and producer Alicia Souvannasane, who both know the situation all too well – and the uncertainly that follows.

The long goodbye is something that Kristin is all-too familiar with. Her husband, John, is serving his second tour in the Middle East as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Navy. He’s in charge of an auxiliary division on the USS Iwo Jima, a WASP-class amphibious assault ship.

“I know my husband is in the Middle East, but I have no idea where he really is,” she said. “So, you get this really scared feeling, but, of course, you don’t want to let them know that, of how scared you really are.”

As each day passes on, it becomes one step closer to them being reunited again. Kristin says pictures of her husband help to keep her strong.

“A lot of people, even say now, well, it can’t be that bad because you have Skype and you have this and that and while I’m so thankful that, at times, my husband has internet, we don’t get to Skype. Our phone calls are timed,” she said.

Those calls can be, at most, only ten minutes long.

Kristin says the Fourth of July is an emotional holiday for her, as America celebrates its independence, thanks to the service men and women who fought for our freedom.

“When you see those fireworks go off, it kind of brings that same feeling back from when he left for deployment, that overwhelming sense of pride that you get from what that person is doing, and what they are sacrificing for their country, to be away from their friends and family for so long,” she said.

Morning show producer and reporter Alicia Souvannasane faces a unique set of challenges, being a mother to 9-year-old Isabella while serving in the US Army National Guard.

Alicia has served for the last five years, her most recent deployment to Puerto Rico to assist local authorities and residents who lost everything in hurricanes Maria and Irma, last year.

That deployment lasted almost two months, and that doesn’t include several weekends throughout the year for training at Fort Sheridan in Lake County.

As a television journalist, a service member, and a mother, giving back to her country is the example Alicia wants to set for her daughter.

“It is hard when I leave, but she always tells everyone ‘my mommy is a soldier.’ Just hearing her talk about that to her friends, it just makes me feel like I’m doing something right,” Alicia said.

She says juggling her military career and being a mother is no easy task.

“The older she gets, I feel like it’s hard to leave her,” she said. “Kids, as they get older, you think they would need less, but they need you more.”

Isabella said, “I feel really sad and I feel really anxious and eager for her to come back. And, when she does come back, we spend lots of time together.”

Kristin’s husband’s deployment ends this August. Alicia will continue her service to the National Guard for the next two years.

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