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'Welcome to the Army': A Couple Adjusts

For Tom and Lauren Nelson, being married has been a thrill. But it has also presented challenges, as Tom's Army career has put him in harm's way in Afghanistan.

Tom, 23, is an infantry officer in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. And that has meant that the usual adjustment period for newlyweds also included a four-month deployment in Afghanistan, while Lauren stayed behind in Fort Bragg, N.C.

The couple's wedding and honeymoon were wonderful, they say -- even though the wedding service ended with Lauren being smacked on the rear with a flat sword, and told, "Welcome to the Army, ma'am."

That initiation began what has been a sometimes difficult process. The Nelsons frequently spoke on the phone while Tom was overseas, but there were things he couldn’t tell his new wife at the time -- like the missions that included hostile gunfire.

The experience has forced Lauren and Tom to adjust and change. But they're still happy, and still in love. As Tom says, "When people thank the military soldiers, they should also thank the wives, and the family."

Tom Nelson says he expects to be redeployed to Afghanistan next year.

StoryCorps is the oral history project traveling the country collecting stories of everyday America. The interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And excerpts are played on Morning Edition each Friday.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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