"We're Heroes, Too"

As part of the Evening News series on "Heroes and Sacrifice," Correspondent Mark Strassmann tonight profiles one remarkable Army wife. -- Ed.
(AP / CBS)
Tara Crooks admits she's a little scared.

Scared -- because she has a lot going on in her life these days in Hinesville, Georgia. For starters, Tara's pregnant with her second child, due in August. And next week, her husband, Captain Kevin Crooks, will deploy to Iraq with the Third Infantry Division.

So for the next year, it's all on Tara. In Tara's case, she'll become a single-parent to their five year old daughter, Wrena. She'll face her pregnancy alone. Any family drama that comes along in the months ahead, large or small, is hers and hers alone to solve. And somehow she'll have to keep calm even though her husband will be living and working in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

Then again, Tara wouldn't dream of ever throwing herself a Pity Party. Just not her style. And she know that her story will echo true to the wives of tens of thousands of deployed or deploying U.S. soldiers.

And that's why Tara decided to do something about it. Almost two years ago, she started hosting a weekly internet show for Army wives. The show is part Oprah, part Dear Abby. She shares anxieties, boosts spirits, and gives advice. But mostly, Tara tries to be the girlfriend that many Army wives wish they had, or as Tara describes herself, a "battle buddy." The topics vary, but she always talks just as one army wife to another, about relationships, parenting tips, even starting an at-home business. At Hinesville's Ft. Stewart, as you might imagine, deployment's now the hot topic. Again. For thousands of soldiers with the Third Infantry Division – and their wives and families -- this is their third Iraqi deployment in five years. That's a lot of separation and strain on any family.

Many of those wives back home feel just as anxious as Tara. She tells them, "You need to know that it's okay to talk, and okay to feel like that and okay to be scared. But it's okay to have a life, too." Some of the wives in her audience are anxious, frightened, lonely fearful. She gives them pep talks. She encourages them to make friends, to get out, to share their feelings with each other, to have the life they deserve. She also helps them navigate through the Army's maze of available services, from the routine to the life-saving. Her message is apparently getting through. The show's audience keeps growing.

For the Crooks family, this will be Kevin's third deployment in five years, once to Korea, and now twice to Iraq. But make no mistake. His deployments – all military deployments -- are a shared sacrifice, for military families, and military communities. As Tara says of her husband packing his battle gear, "He's a hero. But you know what? We're heroes, too."

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.