EDITOR’S NOTE: Follow the Vetterline family’s preparation for Sgt. Robert Vetterline’s return from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Danielle Vetterline has her hands full.
With three children, three dogs, a cat and a fish, the full-time student has little downtime while her husband is deployed, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m busy, but I like it that way,” Vetterline said.
Together, she and her children are preparing for the return of Sgt. Robert Vetterline, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Afghanistan in a few weeks.
This is the third deployment for the family.
“They’re pros,” Vetterline said of her son, Joseph, 9, and daughters Kendra, 7, and Jillian, 2.
It’s been easier this time around, with the support of a next-door neighbor, but Vetterline eagerly awaits her husband’s return and his helping hands.
“He is the backbone and the disciplinarian,” she said.
Vetterline gave birth to Jillian during the last deployment. Previously, she had one hand for each child, but now she’s outnumbered.
“They know he’s coming home soon but they don’t know exactly when,” she said.
In the coming weeks, preparation includes making signs, cards and a countdown chain as the children grow more excited. This homecoming ceremony will be the first the children will be allowed to attend.
Kendra can’t wait for her father to attend her second dance recital, and Joseph wants to show off the tool box he recently put together.
Jillian is convinced her dad is just out getting dinner.
“That’s her story and she’s sticking to it,” Vetterline said with a laugh. Her youngest child has changed the most during the deployment.
“Dad gets to come back to no more diapers. She wasn’t even using complete sentences when he left, and now she’s repeating everything that comes out of everyone’s mouth.”
Most importantly to them, Dad will get to open all the gifts the three have collected for him over the past nine months, including Valentine’s Day cards, candy and Christmas presents.
The time difference, the children’s school schedule and shaky Internet service has made communication difficult, but soon the family will be reunited.