File photo: Soldiers in Afghanistan
FT CAMPBELL, KY – A soldier deployed to Afghanistan for nearly 13 days has been recalled from the volatile Helmand province to take his wife to an appointment for a severe sinus infection, sources confirmed.
After receiving a message from the American Red Cross, Sgt. Timothy Kay returned to his wife Cynthia's arms in a tearful, but happy reunion at Nashville International Airport.
“With Mrs. Kay’s parents in town, we thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask them to take their daughter for such an important procedure,” explained Emilie Beauregard, a nurse at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. “That, added to the extensive support structure of the unit Family Readiness Group, we felt that the only humane thing to do was to ask his battalion commander to allow Sgt. Kay to come home to drive his wife to the hospital.”
Lt. Col. Michael Steinsifer, commander of the 326th Engineer Battalion, acted swiftly to ensure that Kay received as much time as he needed to take care of his significant other.
“We know that a soldier is only as strong as his support back home,” said Steinsifer, “And I run a battalion that places the well-being of soldiers’ families above everything else.”
When asked how long his soldier was going to be stateside, Steinsifer replied that although Kay was given 30 days to “make sure everything was A-OK with the old lady," he insisted that his battalion was operating off of a new system of “flex-time leave” that is currently being tested by the Department of the Army.
“You see,” Steinsifer elucidated, “Back in the old days, soldiers were restricted by all these rules and regulations as to when they could take leave and everything else. Now, what we’re doing with Sgt. Kay is to loosen up those confines to increase the morale and welfare of the unit. Honestly, he can come back whenever he feels like it, as long as he’s checking in back here by phone every week."
When reached by phone, Kay said, “Everything’s alright but, my wife has to get a follow-up appointment next week to make sure the infection didn’t spread. Then I need to drive her to get her prescription refilled because the doctor says that she shouldn’t drive while on these meds. After that she needs to see a specialist up in Nashville because she might have multiple sclerosis.”
Because of the outstanding work Kay is doing, his commander has put him up for an Army Commendation Medal. Kay says the work is its own reward, especially since he continues to receive combat pay.