When her husband was called up by the D.C. National Guard to fulfill his wartime obligation, wife Cindy was left to take on the family business, continue her nursing career and be the mother to three children who are away at college.
It wasn't a hard choice for Cindy. She stepped up and did what she had to do.
"From Day 1, I don't really have a choice," she said. "I'm not the kind of person to say, 'I can't do this.' It's been going fine."
From her Rolling Valley home, Cindy, who wanted to go by only her first name for security reasons, runs the family's insurance business. In the past, her husband, Bob, ran the business by himself, while she put in mornings as a nurse with Kaiser-Permanente. In the afternoons, Cindy would help around the office in their den. On a whim, she got her insurance license just in case. The "just in case" came when Bob was deployed on Jan. 21.
"This is the insurance business right here," she said, pointing to the office. "I went and took the test [insurance] for a rainy day. I never knew when I might need it."
At Kaiser-Permanente, Cindy has gained a certain amount of seniority and took a temporary leave of absence to get used to the insurance business. But soon she will have to either put in some hours there or give up her seniority.
"I'm pretty high on the seniority list," she said.
Financially, Cindy is making it, which is her goal.
"That's my goal, to keep the business income up. I'm still eating," she said. The family also receives income from the National Guard.
For the past few weeks, each of Cindy and Bob's children has been on spring break from school. One daughter even helped out in the office.
"She helped me a little with secretarial work," Cindy said.
The neighbors know about the situation and are supportive.
"My neighbors are great," Cindy said. "They invite me to supper because they know I'm here by myself."
CINDY'S HUSBAND is away at Fort Sill, Okla., where he flies a medevac helicopter in support of troop training. The regular pilots have been shipped away to the war in Iraq, and he is filling in on the domestic side. His orders say one year, but his return could be sooner or later than that. He and Cindy keep in touch by e-mail on a daily basis. When she has an insurance question, which happens occasionally, Bob's only a phone call away. It happened the other day.
"I didn't know the answer, so I called him," she said.
That would be more difficult if he were actually in the Middle East.
"He's not overseas," Cindy said. "It's a huge relief. Being in the military, you can't just tell them you're not going to go," she said.
Cindy's son Eric, 18, is a freshman at West Virginia University. He was home for spring break but still talks to his father by phone while at school.
"He calls every now and then when I'm at school. He monitors my grades," Eric said.
Eric hasn't seen any anti-war movement at school, but some students know his father was called up.
"They're like 'Oh, that's cool.' We don't really talk about it much," he said.
Cindy realized that her husband fulfilled his desire to keep flying in the reserves. He's been a reservist for over 14 years. Although he's over 50, he can still go when his country calls.
"There's always the possibility you could get called up," Cindy said. "They pay you every month to do that." There are other men in his reserve unit that are that age, as well.
"They stayed reservists because they love to fly," Cindy said.
A total of 500 D.C. National Guard personnel mobilized, and 161 were sent overseas for the conflict in Iraq, said Sgt. Sophia Piellusch, a guard spokesperson. The deployments are initially for two years, but the last time they were called into action was in the early 1990s. "That war did not last two years," Piellusch said, so they were sent home early.