FORWARD OPERATING BASE APACHE, Afghanistan, March 18, 2013 - When soldiers deploy, it means months of separation from family members, loved ones and friends. One of the hardest separations anyone can face is leaving behind a child.
Army Staff Sgt. Bonnie Clark doesn't have time to anguish over missing her children while she's deployed here. A human resources specialist assigned to 3rd Infantry Division's Command Group, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Combined Task Force Raider, Clark chooses to use this time apart in a positive manner.
"I stay active in my children's lives, even while deployed," said Clark, a Belmont, Miss., native and the proud mother of three young boys. "I could get upset, but that's not going to accomplish anything. Instead, I stay as active in my kids' lives as possible, like emailing their teachers weekly and being involved in every decision which affects them."
Clark's children appear to thrive on their mother's attention and affections back at their home in Hinesville, Ga., excelling in their academics and extracurricular activities.
"My oldest son, Dominique, is maintaining a straight 'A' average in school, and I have next to no discipline problems with any of them," the single mother said. "It's the little things you do to stay connected with them that makes the difference -- the phone calls, sending pictures and just letting them know they are loved, no matter what, and not forgotten."
Dominique, 7, earned the 2012 Young Georgia Authors Award for penning a story titled "Sam and the Three Hats." He beat out several hundred children in his age group to take the title -- a fact not lost on his mother.
"I'm still so proud of him," she said. "The YGAA award is a great honor, but I would be proud of him even if he didn't win it. All my children just want to please me, but as a mother, I love them no matter what they do."
Clark is equally proud of her other two boys, Demonte, 4, and Triston, 9 months.
"Demonte is outgoing and brave, and the baby, Triston is a very happy and well adjusted," said a teary-eyed Clark. "My boys are very well-behaved and well-mannered. I couldn't be more proud of them."