‘GMA”s Operation Homecoming: Soldiers, Wives Reveal Loneliness of Deployment

By ABC News

Nov 7, 2013 7:56am

ABC News’ James Wang, Bartley Price and Rich McHugh report:

When Brittany Lotts’ husband of three years was deployed in Afghanistan, where he was responsible for clearing improvised explosive devices from the most dangerous roads there, she prayed for him every day.

U.S. Army Capt. William Lotts deployed on his mission when his wife was 5 months pregnant. He missed the birth of their first child, daughter, Finley.

While Jennifer Stewart’s husband, Army Maj. Mike Stewart, 37, was stationed in Ghazi, she ran a tight ship at home, taking care of the couple’s children, 2-year-old Patrick and 6-year-old Izzy.

Jesse Fuller and her husband, Michael, a specialist in the Army, had a baby boy, Brantlee, in December. Two weeks later, Michael was deployed to Afghanistan, leaving her to care for their newborn son.

For the three women, it’s been hard.

“The feedings, and the diapers, and the teething,” Fuller said. “So it’s a little bit overwhelming. …”

Lotts says it can get very lonely.

“No one is there to break up your day or your weekend or, you know, going to church by yourself – just, you think about them a lot,” she said.

Stewart, 37, can relate. This deployment, now that she and her husband have two kids, has been especially hard on her.

“Going to bed alone, when I know that I’ve married someone to kind of make sure that doesn’t happen, is the hardest,” she said. “So I tend to fall asleep on the couch a lot.”

The women are getting ready to see their spouses again after the difficult separation, and “GMA”‘s Josh Elliott traveled to Afghanistan to meet with three husbands as they got ready for their long-awaited homecoming.

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The men were keenly aware of the danger they faced on deployment.

“It hits home,” Stewart told Elliott. “I saw the body of a captain, and I said ‘that could have been me.’”

For Fuller, having bunkers outside his door was a sobering reminder of the perils of his posting.

“It’s your protection,” he said. “I mean – you’ve got to trust it.”

Lotts, who missed the birth of his first child, said he thinks about the danger every day.

“Anywhere you go in Afghanistan, there’s people trying to kill you. …”

Knowing he wouldn’t be there for his daughter’s birth was hard, Lotts added.

“You only have the birth of your first child once, and you know, I had to miss it, but you know, America says I need to be over here so, you know, they wouldn’t call it service if it was easy,” he said.

The men became emotional when Elliott showed them special messages that their loved had sent from home. Lotts’ wife told him she was “counting down the hours” until they would watch football and eat chili together. For his 37th birthday, Stewart – who called his wife “an incredible woman” – watched as she and their daughter told him they loved him, and Fuller laughed when the son who was born just two weeks before he was deployed got out a “Hi, Daddy.”

The men, all of whom are attached to Fort Drum, N.Y., were thrilled when they boarded a plane and left Afghanistan. Thousands of miles away, their wives could barely hold back their excitement as they got dressed and put on their makeup to go and meet their spouses after so long.

“I have not seen my husband in nine months. My fingers are tingly,” Stewart said.

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As Lotts drove to the stadium where she would be reunited with her husband, she, too, started to get emotional.

“I’m getting kind of nervous. … I didn’t think I would, but I am just so excited to see him,” she said.

Stewart is really looking forward to giving her husband a special message.

“I can’t wait to tell him how absolutely certain and unquestionably thankful I am to have found the person that I am supposed to be with,” she said. “And sometimes you don’t know that until that person isn’t close enough to tell. And so I can’t wait until things are quiet and I can just let him know that we are, we are good, we are good. And there is no one I would rather be with in this entire world.”

Watch “Good Morning America” on Friday, Nov. 7, 2013, to see the three couples reunite.

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