MILITARY FAMILIES IN BERGEN COUNTY MAKE ENORMOUS SACRIFICES FOR THEIR COUNTRY
THE SAVITSKY FAMIL
Matthew Savitsky watched nervously on a grainy screen as his first child was born. But when his Skype connection went black, he resumed his duties as a soldier 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. His wife, Samantha, started life as a new parent alone in her Cresskill home. That’s the the type of sacrifice the Savitskys and other local military families have made.
“Matt left that January for training and only came home twice before going to Afghanistan in June for four months, and I was pregnant the whole time,” Samantha says of the 2013 deployment. “We tried to speak twice a day, and I’d spend the rest of the day praying that nothing happened to him.”
With a newborn at home, Samantha had to care for their son, Brody, while managing the stress of being a military wife. “I felt like I could have died from all the fear and anxiety. Your heart just feels so heavy,” she says.
Fortunately, her family lived in nearby Demarest and her mother stayed with her regularly until Matthew’s return. “The few times she left I asked her to come right back because I couldn’t handle it alone,” Samantha says.
She also found support in other military wives. “Being a military family is so different than being a civilian family, so we were able to really comfort each other,” she says.
Samantha relied on that support when Matthew’s base in Ghazni was attacked by suicide bombers, killing several troops. “Matt called and said something happened on base and we’re going into blackout for a while,” she says. “So there was zero communication, which was awful.”
Samantha made sure Brody heard his father’s voice constantly through both the phone and recordings he’d made. “Matt recorded stories, so every night I’d open the pages for Brody and he heard his dad read to him,” she says. By the time he held his son for the first time, Brody knew his father’s voice.
Though his military commitment ended and Matthew is now a municipal police officer in Bergen County, Samantha still chokes up remembering those days. “Sometimes I wish it didn’t happen but we grew so much from it,” she tearfully recalls. “And we’re so lucky. He came home in one piece, and I’m so thankful for that.”
SOLDIERING ON It’s tough for soldiers to leave their families, but Matt Savitsky had the friendship of his unit in Afghanistan.