KABUL, Afghanistan — For most U.S. service members, deploying entails traveling thousands of miles away from family.
For U.S. Army Master Sgt. Robin Harris and her daughter U.S. Army Spc. Heaven Faison, the experience was quite the opposite.
Harris, of Pittsburgh, was in the middle of a two-year deployment with Task Force Shafafiyat at the International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Kabul when she learned her daughter, Faison of Hinesville, would be deploying to Bagram Air Field as a human-resource specialist with Task Force Talon, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
“I was going to see her at Fort Bragg for my mid-tour leave, but a couple of weeks before I went home, she told me she was coming to Afghanistan,” Harris said. “Instead, I saw her on my way out for leave at her unit at Bagram Air Field.”
Knowing she would be closer to her mother during the deployment made Faison, who was deploying for the first time, feel a little more at home.
“It was better knowing that my mom was out here,” Faison said. “I have somebody in my family I can easily talk to and have access to because I don’t have to worry about the time difference between here and back home. It’s also really nice to spend time with her.”
With help from Task Force Talon, Faison was able to fly to Kabul to meet with her mother a second time at ISAF Headquarters on July 28. During the visit, Faison went to the monthly women’s bazaar at ISAF Headquarters, which her mother has helped coordinate since April 2011, when she arrived in Kabul.
“She [Faison] was supposed to come the week before, but I asked if she could come for the bazaar because I wanted her to interact with the Afghan women and children,” Harris said. “I wanted her to see firsthand that Afghans are warm, welcoming people. Once they know you, they never forget you.”
The visit was enlightening for Faison, who had been a bit apprehensive when her mother first deployed.
“The experience opened my eyes. You have to be here to see,” Faison said. “When my mom deployed, I stopped watching the news completely because I didn’t want to hear anything bad about Afghanistan. But being here, I see how kind the Afghan people are.”
Toward the end of Faison’s visit to ISAF Headquarters, they met with ISAF Commander Gen. John R. Allen, who noted the importance of their dual service.
“It’s my honor to be with you today and celebrate the family tradition of our great United States Army,” Allen said.
“I am a soldier, but I can never stop being a mother,” Harris said. “This is my daughter’s first time to deploy. I was here when she arrived, and she’ll leave before me — I’m not going to leave her behind.”