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Focus on Vt. Guard Families

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Swanton, Vermont - December 4, 2009

Sgt. Robby Hemingway works full time for the Vermont National Guard. But his day doesn't end when he clocks out. In October, Robby suddenly became a single dad of two; 4-year-old Antonio, and 1-year-old Milena. That's when his wife Itzia-- who is also a Sergeant in the Guard-- left for training in Indiana. She's deploying for a year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan.

"I don't think the big stresses have come up yet," he said.

Robby now finds himself being "mister mom." He's adjusting well to running the household; cooking, caring for the kids and cleaning the house; his least favorite new chore, and one he's certain Itzia would love to see him do.

"The man is finally learning to clean up after himself and clean the house. She would be amused to start," he laughed.

Kidding aside, Robby admits he's worried about his wife's safety in Afghanistan. He's a war vet himself having served in Iraq and he knows the dangers.

"It sucks. But it's the life and the profession we've chosen," he said.

His job now is to focus on family at home.

"I know if I am strong here and got a handle on the house, the bills and kids, everything a wife would worry about, she will be fine over there," he said. "If I can relieve that stress from here it is going to help her down range for sure."

For now the Hemingways stay in touch through a web cam service called Skype, talking every day, though occasionally the image freezes. Itzia says it helps her, and all deployed soldiers, to stay in touch with loved ones back home.

"Keep the letters coming. I am the mail lady," she said. "Letters phone calls. Help us stay positive by staying positive."

Exactly what Robby says he needs to do too for his whole family.

Sgt. Itzia Hemingway is hopeful that she can return home for Christmas as part of Holiday Homecoming. It's an effort to bring our troops home by bus from Indiana. If it all works out she will spend a few days with her family before heading back to Indiana and ultimately, Afghanistan.

Darren Perron - WCAX News

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