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'You Realize That You're Not Alone': USO Supports Fort Drum Spouse Through Deployment – and Homecoming

Wednesday, September 03, 2014



Video by Eric Brandner  

FORT DRUM, N.Y.Ashley Sandgren's smiles said as much as her words. Sometimes anxious. Other times confident.

Either way, she knew the wait was almost over.

Just 24 hours away from reuniting with her husband  Army Spc. Jeremy Sandgren  after his nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, the Virginia native talked through the emotions of what it was like to wait out the couple's first overseas deployment.

"I think putting it out of your mind is helpful in some sense, but you shouldn't live your life in denial that they're in danger, because they are," she said. 

Not that she didn't have plenty to do. A trained cosmetologist, Sandgren balanced her work with coordinating an Army Family Readiness Group and volunteering with the USO, where many Fort Drum spouses have found a home away from home while their significant others were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.

"Having USO volunteers that have their soldiers deployed, it's the full gamut," said USO Fort Drum Director Karen Clark. "It's the joys, it's the sorrows, it's the anxiety, it's the happiness. We do it all."

"I think this USO has such a huge heart and that really speaks of Karen, the director," Sandgren said. "I think it's extremely important to have the community and the different groups to lean on when your soldier's deployed. It helps in the sense that you realize that you're not alone."

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