Although Army Major Jared Auchey is 6,000 miles away from his Glenside, Pa. home, he knows his kids -- 5-year-old Owen and 3-year-old Leila -- are only a phone call away.
Auchey wakes up at 2 a.m. Afghanistan time every night to tuck his two small children into bed. He does so by using Facetime on his phone from the U.S. Army base in Kabul.
"It’s almost like I’m there to read them a story and talk with them before going to bed so they can have that comfort. For me, it’s getting up a little earlier and going back to bed. We find ways to get through it," said Auchey.
Even though the military man interrupts his sleep nightly, he takes no credit for his efforts. Instead he praises his wife and children.
"A lot of times people are thanking me for my service, but they don’t realize it’s my wife’s service and my family’s service. This is the second year she’ll have to be a single parent," said Auchey. "She has to take care of our kids and make sure they are happy even though I’m gone. I can’t put into words to how much I adore and respect her for doing that."
Not only do they improve their dad's morale, his wife and kids help his fellow officers. Owen and Leila's daycare, Ardsley Day Care of Glenside, adopted the unit which is based out of Fort Knox and sent supplies in April.
Auchey was deployed for a second time to Afghanistan on April 5 and is scheduled to return home late this year.
Despite his time away, technology and social media help him stay connected to home-- a change to the deployment experience the whole family has noticed in recent years since military service is in Auchey's blood. His father has given 35 years to government service and his eight uncles were also in the military.
"It’s so different than it was, getting one letter in the mail once a month. We are all very lucky to have so much communication with the soldiers over there," said Auchey's wife, Erin. "We are very proud of him."
When his family heads down the Jersey Shore or attends Phillies games, he goes along too -- thanks to Skype and Facetime phone calls from the Philadelphia region.
He attributes his family and the Philadelphia-area community for helping him get through the demands of working in a war zone -- which can often remind him of home.
One such reminder was an interaction with local Afghan children.
As Auchey spoke of a chance meeting with a group of small boys the same age his son, he became teary-eyed. They said to him, "Thank you, American." A reminder for Auchey that children are the same and innocent all over the world.
"I feel honored to be able to give back to our nation," said Auchey.