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Support is available for families of Oklahoma troops

Oklahoma National Guardsmen deployed to Afghanistan number more than 300, with 250 more being deployed in the next year, spokesman Col. Max Moss said.
BY HANNAH COVINGTON Published: June 17, 2013

He left for training in February, then for Afghanistan a couple months later.

But Sgt. Jeffery Argyle, 32, of the Oklahoma National Guard, is not completely gone.

Haley Argyle, 31, knows her husband, J.J., will call most mornings at 8:30 and again when he goes to bed, 2 p.m. her time.

The family photographs on the walls help keep him present. So does the book he recorded of himself reading for the girls.

On a sunny June afternoon, Argyle and her three daughters squeeze onto the sofa in their Norman home and open the book, slowly leafing through pages.

His voice fills the living room. They listen.

The book is a balm for the days stretching between “I'll miss you” and “Girls, I'm home!”

But there are other gaps the soldier left unfilled, like the green grass growing tall from all the rain.

The quiet kitchen at dinnertime, empty when the chef is overseas.

And then there are their girls — coordinating music classes, gymnastics meets and Vacation Bible Schools.

Oklahoma National Guardsmen deployed to Afghanistan number more than 300, with 250 more being deployed in the next year, spokesman Col. Max Moss said.

When guardsmen face active duty, families work to reorder responsibilities, redefine “normal” and figure out ways to manage the duties troops leave at home.

It's more than military wives like Argyle can do alone.

That's where relatives, church friends and National Guard family programs step in.

“Any kind of support during this time means the world. If it weren't for loved ones supporting me, I really don't know what I would do,” Argyle said.

Filling the void

For Argyle, life these days is a blur of living room dancing, diapers and sentences stopped short by three girls all wanting Mom's attention and lacking Dad to divert them.

But Argyle has been through this before. This is her husband's second deployment during their eight-year marriage. The last one sent him to Iraq in 2007, when their oldest daughter, Riley, was 17 months old.

Now, Riley, 6, Sadie, 3, and Tinley, 1, fill her day with a steady click-clack of activity, especially now that school is over.

“I keep telling myself, if I can get through the summer, I'll have it made,” Argyle said.

Born and raised in Norman, Argyle is thankful to have her family nearby.

Her mom and dad offer rides, baby-sitting and company to help her get through the long days. Aunts and uncles are quick to provide relief from the kids if she needs an hour to herself.

They also cook meals for Argyle when spaghetti gets old.

“He's the cook, not me,” Argyle said. “I cook a little, mostly things like pasta that I can't mess up.”

Members of the church she's been attending for 20 years also provide help.

“They're a great support system and are like my family,” Argyle said. “There are also a lot of military families in that church, so we all understand and kind of help each other out when necessary.”

They often go out to eat together after services, to talk and unwind.

Argyle can't imagine her life raising three young girls without the support.

“It's very overwhelming,” she said. “I have a newfound respect for single moms that do this all the time.”

Guard support

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