HOME­TOWN HE­ROES

MIL­I­TARY FAM­I­LIES IN BERGEN COUNTY MAKE ENOR­MOUS SAC­RI­FICES FOR THEIR COUN­TRY

201 Family - - SERVICE PARENTS - WRIT­TEN BY JAC­QUE­LINE GOLD­SCHNEI­DER

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.

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