Mom Home from Iraq for Daughter's First Birthday

Mom Home from Iraq for Daughter's First Birthday

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Coco Warner ReportingWhen does duty to country outweigh duty to family? It's a question one Utah woman had to answer after her army reserve unit was told they'd be going to Iraq just two months after she gave birth to a baby girl.

Like those first steps, a baby's first birthday is a major milestone. Bailey turns a year old tomorrow--an event made even more special, because her mom is here to see it.

Janea Vandehei, U.S. Army Reserve: "My first sergeant came up to me and he said ‘I have a surprise.’ And I was like ‘What's the surprise?’ and he says we made it so you can go home and be home for your daughter's birthday."

Janea has been serving in support of the troops on food, water and laundry detail as an Army reservist in Iraq since May.

Janea Vandehei, U.S. Army Reservist: "On May 11th, my very first Mother's Day, I was driving to Iraq."

But how she went from experiencing new motherhood in Brigham City to serving in a war thousands of miles away was hardly an easy transition. Bailey's father and now Janea's fiancee, Cody Hudson, asked her not to leave. Even her sergeant at the time told her she didn't have to go. But Janea felt fulfilling her obligation to the Army was something she had to do.

Janea Vadenhei, U.S. Army Reservist: "I didn't want to be the kind of person that preached that way and then all of a sudden I'm a mom and well, I'm a woman so I don't have to go."

So with the support of her family Janea left for training camp in February and arrived in Kuwait in April. Right now, she's stationed about 70 miles south of Baghdad.

Jessie Nelson, Sister: "It's really hard for my mom and my dad too. They want her back here, but they understand her choice and her decision and they support that."

So as Janea wraps her birthday present for Bailey she hopes with the decision she made she's giving her daughter something else.

Janea Vandehei, U.S. Army Reserves: "When the time comes I'm just going to sit her down and tell her what I did, tell her how we lived and what I went through. And maybe it will help her decide on what kind of person she wants to be."

A present without instant gratification, but one her mom hopes will have long-term benefits.

Janea has just one week left here at home, after which she expects to serve six more months in Iraq.

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