The family that serves together stays together

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 3:31 pm on Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From left, Siera, Terry, Michelle, Chris and Dana Stephens got together before Terry and Chris deployed together with the military in Iraq.

STANTON — Rarely, siblings in the military are deployed together in the same unit.
Very rarely, a parent and child get deployed in the same unit.
The Stephens family of Stanton built the unique bond in 2008, when father Terry Stephens deployed to Iraq with his son, Chris. It was Terry’s third deployment and Chris’ first.
“It brings you together,” said Terry Stephens of his time deployed with his son. “It brings a bond that never goes away.”
Michelle Stephens, Terry’s wife and Chris’ mother, said it was scary having both her husband and son at war at the same time in the same place. But she enjoyed knowing Terry would be there to watch over Chris.
Terry Stephens is currently serving in the National Guard and will be deployed for the fourth time in December with a new unit. Chris will not be coming along.
Terry served in the Army from 1986 to 1992, when he took part in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. He joined the Michigan National Guard after watching the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was deployed again in 2003.
“It never gets easier,” Terry said. “It’s always hard going away and deploying so many times.”
Terry is proud to have a supporting family that is willing and able to manage life while he is deployed. He said this helps him do his job while being deployed because he does not have to worry about home as much.
Michelle takes care of most things while her husband is away, but still makes decisions with Terry every chance she gets.
“If it is an emergency, I’ll take care of it right away,” she said. “If it can wait, I’ll discuss it with him first.”
Michelle and Terry will celebrate their 25th anniversary on Dec. 12. She said the key to their relationship, especially when Terry Stephens gets deployed, is communication.
While Terry is deployed, Michelle said they are always exchanging emails and telephone calls every chance they get. Michelle said the first deployment was rough because they only made contact three times in a six-month period.
She said being married to a serviceman could make or break a relationship. In her case, she said it has made her stronger.
Trust is something Michelle said helps their relationship while he is deployed.
Michelle said the family has a strong military background next to Terry and Chris Stephens.
Michelle and Terry have two daughters, Siera and Dana. Dana is married and her husband is on active duty in Alaska.
Outside of their household, the family has many relatives, including fathers, stepfathers, uncles and cousins, who were or are serving in the military.
Today, Michelle and Terry will be celebrating their silver anniversary at a gathering with friends and family because Terry will be deployed on their actual anniversary.
The couple will be renewing their vows at the celebration, Siera Stephens said.
Michelle and Terry married when Michelle was 15. They moved to Germany at a young age when Terry was stationed there.
Siera said the celebration will give them a chance to  share their special day with everyone.

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