BAGHDAD — They still feel like newlyweds, five years into their marriage. A lucky couple?
No, Nathan and Jennifer Williams just haven't seen much of each other.
Both Army captains, they have each been deployed twice to Iraq on 12-month tours — but in different locations. Back home in North Carolina, they spent at least another year apart because of training commitments.
All told, they've been together for two years of their marriage.
The Williamses are among thousands of military couples whose lives have been disrupted by multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Starting a family is on hold. And time alone together, when it comes, is precious.
Stationed at different outposts in Baghdad just 6 miles apart, Nathan, 28, and Jennifer, 30, rarely see each other in person — just once or twice a month. So every night, they get on the phone to pour out their thoughts about the day.
"I have been here long enough now that I understand his job so that he can kind of talk about his day and I understand everything he is saying," Jennifer said.
Still, the Williamses are luckier than many military couples, particularly those who have lost loved ones in battle. In both of their tours, they've served in the same brigade.
And starting this month, it's a relative honeymoon. Nathan commands an infantry company that moved May 30 from an outpost in north Baghdad to Camp Victory, where Jennifer is stationed. They will be able to see each other for the rest of their 12-month tour, which will end in late September or early October.
Both graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined the Army in 2001 and he followed in 2003. Jennifer grew up in Wilmington, N.C., and is now an intelligence officer. Nathan, from Raleigh, N.C., says leading an infantry company in combat was his main goal when he joined the Army.
As soldiers, they know the dangers they face. "You don't only worry about all the basic things that come with a regular marriage, but you also worry about the dangers and if it's going to be the same person when you return home," Jennifer said.