FORT POLK, La. — As Maj. Kelly Morales grabs her uniform and gets ready for work, her son, Anton, rummages through her closet.
He searches for an outfit for her to wear, but even if the 3-year-old finds the perfect one, Morales can’t wear it.
“My oldest son hates this uniform,” said Morales, who was reassigned from her job as a doctor at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston and to 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, about a month ago. “He knows when mommy puts it on that means mommy can’t play.”
After 12 years in the military and tours in Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Haiti, Morales is deploying for nine months to a combat zone, Afghanistan, for the first time this summer with about 3,200 Black Jack Brigade soldiers.
“I’ve done the austere environment,” she said. “I just haven’t done the people shooting at you while you’re in the austere environment.”
Morales got a glimpse of what life will be like without seeing her sons Anton and 5-month-old Enzo, every day during the brigade’s nearly 30-day rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
“It’s hard not to think of things I’m going to miss, like (Enzo’s) first step or first words, so I just have to get filled in by my husband,” she said. “It’s hard. Right now (my husband) sends me pictures and videos every day so I kind of get an idea of what’s going on.”
Since she’s been at the center, Morales missed seeing Enzo sitting up more and turning over for the first time as well as Anton talking more.
“In just the two and a half weeks that we’ve been here, they’re making strides and they’re growing,” she said.
At JRTC, she continued to lose 600 calories a day just by pumping breast milk.
“That definitely helps you lose some of that baby weight so I’m going to keep pumping until I can pump no longer,” Morales said.
She said the military makes it easy for women to be pregnant in the military and said her pregnancy felt the same as she imagines it would be if she weren’t in the Army.
Morales, an obstetrician and gynecologist by practice, said her skills may be helpful if there are any women’s health issues that need to be addressed overseas. Although she’s scared of the injuries she may encounter, she’s also excited about the opportunity to help others downrange.
Morales, who linked up with the unit for the first time at JRTC, said they’ve surprised her. “They are a truly gifted, talented, eager bunch,” she said. “They really seem to have trained really well. They know what they’re doing and they’re ready to help out.”
Anton will get to pick out Morales’ clothes for a while longer when she returns from JRTC next week. Then, she’ll put her uniform on and see him in nine months. “My husband’s a stay-at-home dad,” she said. “I know they’re in good hands.”