From Kindred to Kuwait: Mother, daughter deployed together
KINDRED, N.D. — A deployment of military members overseas almost always means a period of separation for them and their families.
But for a mother and daughter from Kindred, 30 miles southwest of Fargo, it actually means more togetherness.
U.S. Army Maj. Lisa Van Horn and daughter, U.S. Pfc. Jenna Van Horn, are serving in the same Army Reserve unit in the Middle East.
"It's a built-in best friend on your deployment. Not a lot of people get to have that, so I'm very lucky and fortunate to have her with me," said Jenna Van Horn during a recent video call.
The two left earlier this fall to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait with nearly 200 other soldiers from the 452nd Combat Support Hospital out of Milwaukee, Wisc.
Lisa Van Horn is the hospital's chief of patient administration and her daughter is a pharmacy specialist. Their jobs are to tend to the medical needs of fellow service men and women.
Husband and father, Terry Van Horn, a retired military man himself, said it's not unusual for family members to be deployed at the same time. What is odd is that mother and daughter are serving in the same location.
"Together in one unit in a forward deployed area, it's very — it's rare," he said.
The dual deployment was, in fact, a coincidence.
Lisa Van Horn knew eight months beforehand when and where she'd be going.
Jenna Van Horn was still wrapping up her Advanced Individual Training when someone asked if she could fill a vacant pharmacy tech spot on the roster.
It would be her first deployment and her first time traveling overseas. Excited about the possibility, she didn't hesitate to say yes and would go almost straight from graduation to deployment.
Her father wasn't very happy, at first.
"Not for selfish reasons, but you know, just a little worried that both of my girls were going to be in a deployed environment," Terry Van Horn said.
While Lisa Van Horn also has concerns about her daughter being in Kuwait, she said working with the 452nd is a great opportunity.
"For a first deployment for a young soldier, you couldn't ask for a better environment to serve in," she said.
Though they work in different sections of the hospital, mom and daughter see each other often. When not serving other soldiers, they work out, go to movies and eat lunch together almost daily.
Terry Van Horn stays in touch with them almost daily as well, through texts or video calls. He needs to keep an eye on the clock beforehand, because Kuwait is eight hours ahead of Fargo time.
During their most recent video call, they talked about how the heat is finally easing in Kuwait, and his daughter made a plea to her dad to "send more Doritos," prompting a bout of laughter.
Apparently, the Doritos in Kuwait just "don't taste the same."
The two could be gone as long as a year from the time they left. The time is passing quickly, though, because they've been busy.
The family will miss the holiday season together, but military advocates, including the family readiness group, go the extra mile to see that families feel supported.
Mom and daughter are looking forward to meeting the first grandchild and nephew who was born not long after they left, as well as being reunited with the rest of the family after this round of service to their country is over.
"It's rewarding, you know, and I'm very proud of both of them," Terry Van Horn said.