The inaugural issue of HER Magazine in August 2016 featured medic and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. KayLynn Brunt on the cover. Brunt, who was interviewed a few weeks before she set off on her first overseas deployment to Kuwait, has since returned home to Hot Springs. We recently caught up with her for a follow-up interview, and also spoke with her mother, Lyni Bailey, to get her perspective on what it is like to have her only child deployed overseas with the military.
When Brunt made the decision to join the military 10 years ago, Bailey said her initial reaction was shock, but also pride.
“I was proud, but at the same time I told her that I would write the president and tell him that if she was ever deployed that she wasn’t going to be able to go,” Bailey said. “So, like eight years into it, I figured a deployment just wasn’t going to happen. And then it did.”
Concern for Brunt’s safety was certainly on the top of the list of concerns for Bailey. Another concern, Bailey said, was that she didn’t want her daughter to feel homesick during her eight-month deployment.
“I know how that feels and I didn’t want her to have those feelings. I always hoped she was good with everything, and she was. Everything was just fine. She reassured me everything was going to be OK, that she was going to a safe area,” Bailey said.
Bailey added that something that alleviated a lot of her anxiety during the deployment was her ability to talk to and video chat with Brunt on a regular basis. Brunt’s children, now ages 4 and 7, also took their mom’s absence better than everyone thought they would, Brunt and Bailey agreed.
“They really did very well. Them being able to see her on FaceTime, they understood; mom’s at work,” said Bailey.
When asked what advice she would give to another parent whose child is being deployed overseas with the military, Bailey said, “I’d probably say to keep a journal, and just send lots of goodies. I sent her Triscuits, beef jerky, just different things
from sheets to snacks and stuff like that. And laundry detergent.”
During the interview Brunt and Bailey laughed about a brownie-dryer sheet mishap in one of Bailey’s care packages to Brunt.
“Don’t ever put brownies in a care package with dryer sheets because it’s boxed up for like two weeks and by the time you box it up and she gets it, some time has passed, and those dryer sheets are really strong,” Bailey said, laughing. “I had just baked the brownies and they were still warm in there. I asked her, ‘Did the brownies taste like dryer sheets?’ She said, ‘Actually, yes.’ I forgot about that. I thought that might be a possibility after it was already sent, either that or the dryer sheets are going to smell like brownies!”
Though her deployment was the longest she had ever been away from her family, Brunt said the overall experience was great.
“We got to learn a lot about how the military works when you get mobilized, which is a lot different from National Guard, just doing the one weekend every other month. We got to learn a little bit about what active duty is like. It was a good experience,” Brunt said.
Bailey said seeing her daughter for the first time after being gone for eight months was extremely emotional.
“It felt like she was born again. It was like her birthday,” she said. “I was so nervous and so happy to finally get to be in the same space with her.”
Since her return home Brunt said she has been enjoying time with her family. She will have the rest of the summer off to spend with her children before she returns to work as a registered nurse at CHI St. Vincent.