To read more about the members of this unit, and how life on the homefront has changed, click here.
Four-year-old Misha will go to sleep every night with her daddy reading her a bedtime story. But she'll have only his voice, not his arms for snuggling in close, for the next year.
Denise and Brandon Ford aren't sure she really understands what's happened to daddy. "We've been telling her daddy is going away for a really long time, and he's going to be really, really far away, but he's going to help people and he's going to come back," Denise says.
Denise, who fell in love with Ford the first time their eyes met, says she plans to do all she can to keep his presence felt. "Just so that he's here when he's not here."
Ford, an Army reservist with an Illinois medical unit headed to Afghanistan, will miss so much: Misha's first day of school, her birthday, his five-year wedding anniversary and Denise's graduation from nursing school.
"Him not being here is pretty difficult. Becoming a single mom is pretty hard. I know it's hard in general being a single mom, but when you are used to being a two parent deal, then all of a sudden everything is left on your shoulders."
Family will help a lot. She and Misha have already moved in with Denise's mom. Denise is just hoping time flies by until Ford is home again.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.