ROCHESTER, Ill. – The bond between a mother and her children is one of the most foundational and significant relationships between human beings. This connection is so profound that not even time and distance can separate a mother's love and devotion for her children.
Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Sarah J. Campbell, of Rochester, Ill., is the operations noncommissioned officer with the 633rd Theater Gateway Personnel Accountability Team in Springfield. She was separated from her two children, Austin and Kiana, ages 10 and four, respectively, while deployed to Kuwait from June 2012 to March 2013.
"I tried calling them every chance I got," Campbell said. "It was hard sometimes, hearing them continuing on with their day-to-day life and telling me their stories and what they did that day."
Campbell relied on phone conversations and video conferencing to stay connected. She worked the night shift and was able to make calls on her breaks while it was daytime back home.
Campbell said she tried her best to be there for her children and admits she missed out on some things during her nine-month deployment. The most obvious were the physical and academic growth of her children.
The deployment was not only challenging for Campbell, but also her children.
"I really missed her," Austin said. "But I think it's cool that she's in the Army because she gets to shoot bazookas."
Although being away was difficult, Campbell said, the deployment provided time to reevaluate her priorities.
"I got to reflect a lot about my life," Campbell said. "A lot of my reflection had to do with my children. Sometimes life overwhelms you or kind of throws you off-track and my deployment really helped me reflect on who I want to be as a person, a mother and soldier."
It's difficult to balance the commitments of being a mother and a soldier, Campbell said. Yet, she said, there’s a way to mesh the two. Her motherly instincts compelled her unit to give her the nickname of "mother hen" for the way she took charge during training.
"It is difficult juggling National Guard obligations with the responsibility of being a mother, but I feel they do complement each other at times," Campbell said. "I think being a mother helps me in my role as operations NCO because it's all about taking care of people."
Campbell said she discovered a lot about herself while on deployment. That time, she added, was vital in defining her priorities.
"I would do anything for my children and for the military," Campbell said. "My children will always come first -- no matter what."
It has been said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. In Campbell's case, ruling the world is not an aspiration, nurturing and protecting is. As a mother first and citizen-soldier second, she has already set a solid example of what that looks like.