Families with relatives in the armed forces face difficulties in all areas of their lives

By Cassie Dugan

Many times, the war in Iraq seems so distant from Carmel that it is often written off as just another issue for the media to scrutinize. However, for senior Curtis Pittman, the war is a constant reminder of who he doesn’t have at home, his older brother and his uncle, who are in the armed forces.

Curtis has been a part of a family with military participants most of his life. “My brother has always been into the military kind of thing, and my uncle started when I was littler,” Curtis said.

Curtis’s uncle, Chad Pittman, is currently serving in his second deployment to Iraq since becoming a member of the Indiana National Guard, while Tyler Pittman, Curtis’s older brother, is serving in his first. This situation has become tough on the Pittman family because Mr. Pittman’s wife, Cristi Pittman, is acting as a single mother to their three children and is currently pregnant with their fourth, expected this fall.

“Chad left the military before we met because he felt like there wasn’t a future in it since they were downsizing,” Mrs. Pittman said, “Then 9/11 happened, and he felt like it was his duty to do something.”

After Mr. and Mrs. Pittman had their second child, the couple had trouble getting pregnant again.

“We adopted Jack, our third child, from Russia and actually received him Thanksgiving day. Chad left for training in December,” Mrs. Pittman said, “But then (Chad) got leave – and I got pregnant.

While ways of communication such as video chat and e-mail are available for the military to keep in touch with their loved ones, access to these luxuries can at most times be restricted.

“Every once in a while (the kids) will be down or something and you’ll ask them why and they’ll say ‘I miss my dad’ and start crying,” Curtis said.

Mrs. Pittman said that there was one point in her husband’s first deployment where they didn’t talk for a full six weeks. She added that he has made a huge effort during the second deployment to stay in contact. However, she said she finds the fact that the kids are at a younger age to be better in the given situation.

As far as security, it’s safe to say any family would be concerned about a relative overseas, and the Pittman family is no different. Both Curtis and Mrs. Pittman said that they try not to dwell on it too much, even though Mr. Pittman’s position puts him in the field.

“Right now they’re doing convoy security so he’s out in a humvee. Basically they are searching for snipers and ambushes and that kind of thing so there have been some close calls.”

The two Pittman families are close both emotionally and physically; Mr. and Mrs. Chad Pittman live in Noblesville. However, Curtis said that this has not taken a toll on him academically.

According to Curtis’s counselor Rebecca “Becky” Stuelpe, this seems fairly normal considering he is the speaker of the House. “I think that the fact Curtis is speaker of the House shows that he has confidence and leadership skills. I think those qualities probably help him cope with a more positive outlook.”

But Curtis cited another approach. “I cope by my trust in God and everything is in God’s plan – but I don’t think it has anything to do with my position in school,” he said.

The families use their Christian faith in order to provide comfort about their relatives overseas. “With prayer I think it makes it a lot easier to deal with (Chad’s) deployment,” Mrs. Pittman said. She also added the fact that they are a religious family with a firm faith allows them to cope more easily.

Around Thanksgiving is when both Mr. Pittman and Tyler are expected to arrive back home. Incidentally, Nov. 25 is when Mrs. Pittman is due to give birth. The timing will be very close, and she said she hopes he is home in time for the delivery of their fourth child together.

Looking into the future, Mr. Pittman’s chances of being redeployed are minimal. He may get called back to duty if the situation is dire, but other than that, his family is expecting him home for good.

“I think that he’ll fit in pretty seamlessly when he comes home,” Mrs. Pittman said, “The kids are really excited for him to come home, and I’m assuming they’ll just start up where they left off. But Jack doesn’t really have a relationship with (Chad) because we had him for two weeks and then Chad left. That will be the relationship we have to build up – basically starting from scratch.”

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