FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 14, 2017) -- While many Fort Lee military members are preparing lists for the holiday season, there are those who are preparing duffel bags for deployment.
Such is the case of Capt. Marie Malvoisin. The Foxtrot Company, 16th Ordnance Battalion, Soldier was notified in October that her boots were needed on the ground in Afghanistan prior to Christmas.
“It’s what we expect as Soldiers,” Malvoisin said.
Her deployment orders were issued under the Worldwide Individual Augmentation System that has supported staffing requirements since the 1990s. Hers is commonly known as a “onesie” because it is an individual deployment rather than a unit assignment. Nevertheless, the former battalion S3 officer-in-charge was not caught off guard.
“Due to the fact I have a high dwell (time status), I was at the top of the list,” Malvoisin said, noting she had contemplated requesting an assignment.
A Soldier’s “dwell” status can be described as the time logged at a home station between deployments. The minimum dwell time is one year for most Southwest Asia deployments. It is an important factor in the issuance of assignment orders. Malvoisin has not deployed since 2010.
On top of receiving orders to report prior to the holidays, Malvoisin said she did not receive the cushion of advance notice she was afforded in the past. That was an eye-opener, according to the 36-year-old.
“It wasn’t enough time to kind of process (the reassignment), but the funny thing was that I was already prepared,” she said, noting such short notice is the norm for WIAS assignments.
Malvoisin, an 18-year Soldier, is married with three children ages 12-14. She has deployed before and is attuned to the disruption it can cause to family life. She notified her loved ones as soon as she found out, however, one of her sons had difficulty accepting it.
“He had to ask some questions – which is typical of a child,” she said, “and I explained that it is just what I have to do; that’s the job and that’s the profession.”
Like many Soldiers with family members who have deployed during the past 15 years, being away is nearly normal but never easy, Malvoisin said.
“Not to sound cliché,” she continued, “I’ve had to sacrifice and leave my family before. This is not my first deployment and not the first time I had to leave for various training opportunities, but it’s never the same. You never get used to it.”
One advantage of her deployment, Malvoisin said, is she will be attached to her new unit while still assigned to her Fort Lee company. As a result, she is not required to move her family and risk causing them even more difficulty.
“I’ve been in the Army long enough to have seen spouses who say, ‘I’m not staying here; I’m going home,’” she said. “So, having to pack up your house and home, figuring out who is going to rent it out … would put a lot of stress and hardship (on family members).”
Although her son has difficulty with the timing, Malvoisin said her family is generally supportive. It doesn’t hurt that her husband, Charles Ivory III, is familiar with deployments as well.
“By him being a former Soldier, he understands the obligation I have.”
Malvoisin said her assignment came at a time she was prepared for deployment and her family was established. Those are advantages, she said, but not every family – for whatever reason – is at that level of readiness. For them, she has this advice:
“Make sure you take care of yourself – that you are mentally and spiritually prepared, that your family is taken care of, and that you have those conversations with them,” she said.
On the military side of the house, Malvoisin said preparation can never be understated.
“The Army Chief of Staff stresses readiness,” she said. “It is voiced incessantly at all levels of leadership. Readiness is inculcated into us. Just because you’re in a TRADOC organization doesn’t mean you’re exempt from doing what’s necessary to prepare yourself for deployment.”
Malvoisin is scheduled for a one-year stay in Afghanistan. She has completed prerequisite training at Fort Polk, La., and Fort Bliss, Texas, and should arrive at her final destination in a few days. Once in country, she will take on duties and responsibilities associated with advising the army and national police on logistics operations.
Malvoisin said she hopes to continue to serve in the Army upon her redeployment.