FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The war in Iraq has come to a close and an end to combat operations in Afghanistan is in sight, but for thousands of Americans the war abroad is ongoing and Families at home are striving to remain strong through long separations.
Spc. Flavia Veiga, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, holds her phone to display a photo of she and her husband, Staff Sgt. Sanel Klebic, a supply sergeant with the 20th Engineer Brigade, Oct. 3, at Fort Bragg. Klebic has been deployed to Afghanistan since January, and Veiga said she looks at the photos of her husband on her phone whenever she misses him. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary S. Katzenberger/1st BCT, 82nd Abn.)
Spc. Flavia Veiga, a human resources specialist with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, and her husband, Staff Sgt. Sanel Klebic, a supply sergeant with the 20th Engineer Brigade, are one of many couples here who have been working on remaining resilient and cultivating a marriage while being separated by distance and duty.
While Klebic has been engaged clearing routes of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan since January, Veiga has been balancing the tasks of taking care of fellow paratroopers in her office on Ardennes street with jumping out of airplanes and completing college classes.
When asked how she has remained strong during her husband’s absence, Veiga said it has boiled down to keeping busy and engaging in frequent, honest communication with her spouse.
Like many paratroopers, Veiga leaves home for work in the early hours of the mornning and leaves work late in the evening. Once home the human resources specialist studies and completes homework for classes she is taking towards earning a bachelor’s degree.
Veiga said because her work days are long and all of her free time is devoted to study, she isn’t left with much time to dwell on missing her soul mate. That doesn’t mean it has been an easy time, however.
“He tries to call me at least once every two days,” Veiga said. “He tells me everything that’s going on — the frustrations of stupid things that are going on and the great things — so it’s almost like he’s here but I can’t see him.”
The human resources specialist said communicating so openly about everything that’s happened in Afghanistan has been like a double-edged sword. She said one part of her has wanted to know the ins and outs of her husband’s missions, but the other part of her hasn’t wanted to know about the dangers or close calls Klebic has experienced on route clearance patrols.
Veiga said because she’s a paratrooper herself, even though she hasn’t deployed, it has been easy to relate to one another through the fog of war. She said besides phone calls she and her husband have shared emails, letters and photos.
Their most recent conversation has been her husband’s homecoming, slated for this month.
Veiga said she’s excited to get back into a routine with her husband where they have dinner together every night and talk about their days.
“He’s wonderful, he’s a great husband,” she said of Klebic. “There’s something we say to each other: I make him feel that he needs to do better and the same thing with me. That’s really what it is.”
Staff Sgt. Mary S. Katzenberger, 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. PAO