Afghan veteran adjusts to life at home

About a week back from Afghanistan, 1st Lt. Aaron Dunn feed his daughter, Emma, 14 months, as his wife, Leanne, watches, at their home in Fountain. When Dunn returned from Afghanistan he and Emma had not seen each other since she was 5 months old. Emma had little clear memory of her father when he came home, and it has taken some weeks for the child to accept his role as a parent. Enlarge photo

Brennan Linsley/Associated Press

About a week back from Afghanistan, 1st Lt. Aaron Dunn feed his daughter, Emma, 14 months, as his wife, Leanne, watches, at their home in Fountain. When Dunn returned from Afghanistan he and Emma had not seen each other since she was 5 months old. Emma had little clear memory of her father when he came home, and it has taken some weeks for the child to accept his role as a parent.

FOUNTAIN First Lt. Aaron Dunn deployed to Afghanistan in early March 2012. His 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was charged with engaging Taliban fighters in Kunar Province and mentoring Afghan government soldiers.

Upon returning, here are some of his views:

War and coming home are going to mean different things to each soldier. For me, it was God and family. I get my security in life from my hope in God, and my companionship and support from my family. I really didnt worry too much during deployment, because of that faith.

For a lot of soldiers, its the family back home that drives them. Support from family and friends is very important. Support is also important from the American public. Often times a simple thank you is enough.

In my opinion, its tougher on the families, especially after the unit takes a casualty. ... I personally cant imagine waiting, not knowing if your loved one is alive or even all right, and having a panic each time a car drives by your driveway thinking its the military chaplain and escort coming to see you.

A lot of people seem to think that quality time will make up for a long absence. It doesnt. Its quantity time that does that. It is the time spent doing things that are fun, but also the time spent doing the daily chores, and other routines that firmly bring a family together. Emma was 5 months old when I deployed, and 14 months old when I returned. I was able to stay in touch with the family and had the luck to watch Emma begin to crawl via Skype.