BAGHDAD—For a deployed service member, being away from a spouse can be stressful, but what if your spouse was deployed with you? That is exactly the case for two Soldiers deployed to Iraq with 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center.
Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, a supply sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. and a Mobile, Ala., native, is married to Staff Sgt. Tanoka Johnson, a supply sergeant with Company F, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. and a Champaign, Ill. native.
Tanoka said that on working in the same field as her spouse can help them in their daily tasks.
“We find work simpler with both of us as (supply sergeants),” Tanoka said. “If we have questions we can call each other, discuss the problem and we understand what the other is dealing with.”
Jeremiah is on his third deployment and Tanoka is on her second. This is the second deployment the two have experienced together but their first as a married couple.
“(On our) last deployment we were at Kirkuk Air Base (Iraq), and the challenge of being together and not married (placed) limitations on time we could spend together,” Jeremiah said.
Tanoka agreed that the previous deployment had been a challenge.
Being married, they can spend time together, in turn providing moral support and encouragement for each other, she said.
Jeremiah said it’s easier than having a spouse in the U.S. For Soldiers with spouses at home, they might not be available right away when something troubling happens. He and Tanoka do not have that problem.
The couple said they relate well with each other, being dual-military and deployed, but every day brings new challenges. Some nights the units work late and this can cause conflicts in the couple’s schedule.
“If he has to stay late for a meeting, he may not be home until after I’m asleep,” Tanoka said.
They get around this by making time for each other, they said. Each day the Johnsons coordinate at least one meal together—after their morning exercise, before heading to their offices.
Jeremiah said their schedules are not too different than back in the states, except the concerns about rushing home to take care of children has been put to rest knowing that they are being cared for by Family back home.
They said their children wished they had one parent home through the deployment, but understand the Family’s goals.
“We explained to them that we are saving to buy a new home and we could deploy separately (one after the other) or together now,” Tanoka said.
Tanoka was a single mother in the military for seven years before she was married.
“Sometimes we want to do what is easy, but you have to stick with it so you can be proud of yourself and your Family will be proud of you also,” she said.
The Johnsons’ respective Families love that they are together—especially their mothers, who encourage them to take care of each other.
The Johnsons plan to stay in the military until they retire, and both have reenlisted for the final time. “It is a blessing to be going through this together,” Jeremiah said. “Having my support element here with me, I have benefited every step of the way.”