Valley Voices

Military wife to Heather Carr: Deployments aren’t NFL camps

Marine Capt. Brian Hayek meets his daughter, Lynley at 4 months old, when he returned home from an active duty assignment. She now is 6 years old, and he is a reservist.
Marine Capt. Brian Hayek meets his daughter, Lynley at 4 months old, when he returned home from an active duty assignment. She now is 6 years old, and he is a reservist.

I recently read Heather Carr’s Instagram post, as featured in The Bee, about her experience as the wife of an NFL player, Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr. Her post did a great job of capturing the challenge of being married to someone who is on the road.

I’ve always respected Mrs. Carr and her husband for their faith and commitment to one another, and his humility and class as a professional athlete. I can appreciate the hardship of being gone and would like to offer a little different perspective. I am a military wife.

There is no doubt it’s difficult being away from your spouse. While my husband was serving active duty, I tried to not discredit other spouses whose significant others were gone for a week on a business trip. Every situation is relative. I get that.

At the same time, when our husbands or wives leave for their business trips or “work ups,” we know they are putting themselves at great risk. Just look at the helicopter crash that killed 16 service members last month. Or the helicopter that went down recently leaving three missing.

Here is my request for Mrs. Carr:

I ask that when she thinks about her husband being gone for a couple of months, staying in a safe hotel room, she remembers our service members who are standing post in the Middle East and other parts of the world, protecting our families’ freedoms for seven months and longer at a time. And consider the wives, mothers, girlfriends and sisters at home, but not sleeping out of anxiety, nervousness and worry.

When her husband misses a family dinner, please remember some service members miss birthdays, anniversaries and in my family’s case – like many other service members – the birth of our first daughter, Lynley.

After the season is over and her husband goes back to regularly scheduled workouts, she should enjoy their time together. When military spouses come home from deployment, many bring the war home with them. My husband was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. It took over a year to diagnose and longer to get treatment.

Over 20 percent of veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, and that’s just those who have come forward. There is a stigma to PTSD, and many service members won’t get diagnosed at all. Every 65 minutes, a service member commits suicide.

I don’t mean to discredit the sacrifice players’ wives make for their husbands and families. And I am certainly not saying that wives shouldn’t miss their husbands. I hate being away from my husband, and I truly understand. This is a different perspective of what it’s like for military spouses whose husbands are at their “training camp” and on the road.

Our military members don’t fly first class. They don’t make seven-figure salaries. And yes, service is something they’ve chosen. But when people give a shout-out for the players’ wives, how about a little shout-out for those of our military, too?

God bless and Semper Fidelis.

Ashley Hayek grew up in Fresno and attended Clovis West High School. Her husband, Capt. Brian Hayek, has served in the Marine Corps 15 years – as a Marine on active duty, enlisted and officer, for 11 years and now as reservist for the past 4 years. They now live in the San Diego area.