Home and Away
How does one family handle the deployment of a husband and father?
David French worked his way through Harvard to become a constitutional attorney, but at the age of 37 he decided to serve in a different way by enlisting in the U.S. Army. As a father of three, David and his wife Nancy explain what his service in Iraq has meant to the family. Read more about their story in their new book "Home and Away" available to purchase online.
Jana Melpolder: What is the main message that you want the audience to take from your new book “Home and Away"?
David French: This not only takes the reader into the nitty gritty of what was happening in Iraq, but also the reality of what it’s like to be a family with a soldier serving overseas. What the challenges are: how to persevere through them and how to go through the experience with a lot of fear, faith and hope.
How do you feel about your deployment, David? How has this situation brought you closer together as a couple and as a family?
David: This is a unified decision for me to join and for me to volunteer to go to Iraq. You know we went through this together and it brought us closer, and one of the purposes was to demonstrate to our children that somethings are more important than yourself. And I think that the year in Iraq demonstrated that to them more clearly than any words ever could.
Nancy French: I think that we’re more fearless. I don’t worry about things as much as I should. I put more trust in God over the day-to-day affairs of our lives. And so it makes me less leery and it makes you worry less. So it frees you up to be more adventurous, which helps the relationship.
What lessons are you trying to teach your children through your decision to serve?
David: You can talk the talk all you want but nothing does it more than walking the walk. We have three children. But we noticed in our two older children [that] they matured enormously during the course of the deployment. But I think the best act of parenting that I ever did was going to Iraq. I can even remember when I was considering joining [that] I was talking to a very dear friend of mine. I said, "You realize if I join I'm going to be away from my family a lot more and if I end up going to Iraq that I’ll be away, at the very least, for the full year of the deployment. Something bad or terrible could happen to me and I could never see them again". And he said, "What’s the better way to raise your children? Is it to be constantly present or is it to give them an example of what it’s like to live out God’s call on your life"? And that comment made a tremendous impression upon me. And I think in communicating this and in communicating that reality to our children it’s had a tremendous positive impression on them. I’ve seen both of them have a much softer heart towards other people, a much greater concern and awareness for other people than they did before I left.
Nancy: When he went to Iraq, one of the ways that we explained it to them is that there are people over there who needed help. It helps them understand that that’s what you should do in life. While David was in Iraq the kids came up to me with a long list of reasons why we should adopt an orphan from wherever because it had kind of gotten into their system that you help people who are in duress. That’s how we ended up with our third child. Service kind of got a hold of our kids’ hearts.