As I ramble, I sit next to my briefcase and computer in Medford, Oregon. By this time tomorrow night, I will instead sit next to my husband, MAJ Brian Stramel. Grace and I have traveled to Medford and Roseburg this weekend to welcome home – and celebrate with – the 1-186 Infantry Battalion of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Tomorrow, residents of both towns will line the streets with flags and children and tears to welcome home their husbands, fathers, uncles, friends, and neighbors.
Almost thirteen months ago, Brian departed for training before deploying to Iraq, where he served as the Camp Commander for Camp Korean Village. These soldiers sacrifice so much if only in the way they suspend their time with their families and in their civilian careers to go and do what few of us are willing to do. I have always supported Brian’s Army career no matter what because I know from experience that at the end of a deployment, I look back upon the year and see infinite blessings that have come about as a result of the separation that we go through.
I love Paul’s greeting for the Philippians in chapter 1:
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from this first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Grace and I came upon Orenco Church at the tail-end of Brian’s deployment to Afghanistan in 2006. At that time, I recognized that to get through the year I needed to find a support system for myself. It was better late than never. Let this column serve as a small thank you to all of you for your support, help, prayers, and friendship during Brian’s time in Iraq. I could not have raised our three children on my own in this past year without the tremendous amount of support from all of you. You are our extended family. For all of your understanding and prayers – and the joy and blessings you give to all of us – thank you.