Is your love like a Holliday?

Katie Sheafer

Couple deepens relationship after deployment.

Adam and Devon

 

Adam Holliday spent his one-year wedding anniversary in 2008 going to class and studying. His wife Devon spent it thousands of miles away — serving with the Army in Iraq.

 

They look like the average college-aged married couple, sitting together in Kent State’s Student Center browsing on their laptops and studying for classes. But Adam, 22, and Devon, 25, have a unique bond that few can understand.

 

Both have served for the U.S. Army in Iraq, and both have felt the immediate impact America’s war can have on families.

 

A Quick Beginning

 

Adam and Devon’s story is one of chance, irony and great timing. Before meeting, both spent the majority of 2006 in Iraq with the Army. Adam was stationed near Hawijah, establishing intelligence patterns, which helped to capture high-ranking officials.

 

About an hour east of her future husband, Devon was stationed in Kirkuk, gathering intelligence to send to other officials in Iraq.

 

A few times, their paths even crossed as strangers.

 

“We’d see the power points and products we’d each make,” Adam said. “But at that point, we didn’t know who each other were. I used to rant and rave about the products she’d send me.”

 

Upon returning to the states in 2006 after their tours in Iraq, mutual friends realized the potential for romance between the two and set them up on a blind date in Jan. 2007.

 

“We were introduced and told to go to a movie by our friends,” Adam said. In no time, the two had decided they were the ones for each other.

 

“We got close very quickly,” Devon said. “We ended up getting married in May of 2007, so it only took four months to figure it out.”

 

The couple says traditionally, military relationships progress faster than others due to deployment and other similar reasons.

 

“With the cycle of deployment, there’s only so long you can court before you face separation,” Adam said. “Because of that you tend to get married a lot faster.”

 

Adam and Devon had a small, private wedding while they were stationed in Kentucky. But the couple enjoyed the honeymoon phase of marriage until that September, when deployment came knocking once again.

 

Marriage from a distance

 

In September of 2007, the Hollidays braced themselves for one of their biggest trials as husband and wife. Two days after her contract with the Army ended, Devon was once again sent to Iraq — this time to Samarra.

 

“These days, pretty much anybody within three months of their contracted end date can be deployed,” Devon said. “I happened to fall into that cut-off.”

 

Because of low retention rates, the Army began a “stop loss” policy, which means that if the country is in a state of emergency or war, they can extend the contracts of select personnel, Devon explained.

 

With less than four months of marriage under their belts, half of which was spent apart for Army training and drill sessions, Adam and Devon said their goodbyes until November.

 

While Devon started her second deployment in Iraq, Adam was beginning his first semester at Kent State. Devon spent her days once again gathering intelligence for the Army, while Adam gathered research for reports. It didn’t take long for him to realize how much he missed his wife, thousands of miles away.

 

“It was a lot harder than my first deployment because now I was married,” he said. “I was away from my wife. She was deployed, and I was starting school, which meant now all of the events that come with starting school, like being able to go to different social events and being able to see family during holidays; I didn’t have my wife with me for all of that.”

 

Adam began his time at Kent as part of the military’s Green to Gold, which offers 200 enlisted citizens nationwide a scholarship to attend school. While in school, the military contract of the scholarship recipients is terminated as long as they pledge to sign a new four-year contract upon graduation.

 

Devon and Adam both admit that the separation was difficult at times, but technology made the time much more tolerable.

 

“I was actually able to instant message with him almost every day,” Devon said. “And I would be sitting in class talking to her,” Adam added. “So, it really wasn’t as bad as it might have been in the past when you waited months for letters.”

 

By the end of his third semester at Kent, while most students were studying for finals, Adam was anxiously waiting for his wife to return home.

 

“The day of my last final, she came home,” Adam said. “I literally went to take my last final, went home and sat on the couch for a little bit and then she walked through the door.”

 

After spending over one year of their year-and-a-half marriage in different countries, the Hollidays could finally start enjoying what married life really had to offer.

 

Looking Ahead

 

Now, both attending Kent State, Adam and Devon plan to graduate at the end of 2011. Devon says that while adjusting to college life hasn’t been too difficult, relating with her college peers has been the more challenging aspect of life back in the States.

 

“At times, I’m surprised at how oblivious people can be to the fact that we’re in a war-time environment,” she said. “It’s a little bit frustrating when people don’t know where Afghanistan or Iraq is.”

 

The couple is also enrolled in the Army ROTC program. For Adam, it’s a condition of his Gold to Green scholarship; Devon decided to try the program when she started at Kent.

 

“I don’t think I’m going to be continuing on with it anymore,” Devon said. “I’ve grown tired of the Army. I’ve realized after all these years that I don’t enjoy tactical things.”

 

Despite her decision to cut ties with the Army, Devon says she still feels her time with the military has given her experiences she thinks everybody should encounter before going to college.

 

“I think more people should get life experience before coming to college,” she said. “Then they value the education they’re getting more.”

 

“Do something like serve with the military for a few years or even do civil service or volunteer work. Then you can experience life and figure out what you want to do instead of wasting money pursuing random majors.”

 

As for the future, the Hollidays plan to remain close with the military. Devon is looking at joining the Navy to work as an intelligence officer while Adam will be re-contracted with the Army after graduating.

 

“For the next few years, my plans are the Army’s plans, wherever that may send me,” Adam said.

 

Contact health reporter Katie Sheafer at [email protected]