Miliaresis travels to Twentynine Palms, California to a Marine Corps base in the Mojave Desert. She meets two wives, Brandi Albritton and Denneny Cochran, before their husbands deploy to Iraq.
Twenty-six year old Denneny met her husband, Lance Corporal Jordan Cochran, in college. After September 11th, she supported his decision to leave teaching to join the Marines. She quit her own job as an insurance professional, and sold their house in order to move to his new duty station with their dog Paco.
Brandi, a twenty-four year old mom of two toddlers, faces her husband, Sergeant Aaron Albritton’s second deployment in less than two years. Brandi and Aaron were high school sweethearts from a small town in central Florida.
After months of training and preparation, the day of departure arrives. Standing in a sweltering parking lot, Denneny clutches their Chihuahua, and makes jokes to lighten the situation. Brandi wipes her tears, trying to be strong for her children. Still, two-year old Elijah cries inconsolably for his dad, not wanting him to leave. As the buses pull away, an eerie silence hangs in the air. No one knows if they will ever see their loved ones alive again. Time stops.
A fog of worry and instability characterizes the days that follow. Heartfelt interviews from families describe the fear, the palpable absence. In this emotional chaos, spouses must shoulder the responsibility of the household alone, and, effectively, become single parents. Brandi looks for ways to keep Aaron fresh in the minds of her children. She makes pillowcases for them to sleep on with their daddy’s picture on it.
Work can be a helpful distraction, but over fifty percent of military spouses are unable to find employment. Though a college graduate with work experience, Denneny settles for a job as a lifeguard. She works herself to exhaustion, in the hopes of stuffing down the feelings and making time go by faster.