(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
SERVING HIS COUNTRY: Trudeau deploying for a year in the Middle East, second such deployment by Army National Guard Major…
Waitts Lake resident Joe Trudeau’s days are usually spent teaching music to students at Jenkins Junior Senior High School while also raising a family of four with his wife Kellie. Life will be different this next year as Trudeau, a major in the Army National Guard, will be deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“I don’t think some people even realize that Joe is in the Army National Guard,” Kellie Trudeau said.
While usually clad in a Hawaiian shirt on less than formal occasions, the multi-talented teacher will be trading his bagpipes for a uniform starting this Fall.
This is the second time that Trudeau has been deployed in his 17 years with the Army National Guard. The first time was in 2008 when Trudeau had just began teaching at Jenkins Junior Senior High School.
That was a bit different in 2008, Joe had just begun dating his now-wife Kellie and he had just established roots in the Chewelah area. While he got to say goodbye to students, JJSHS staff and community members back in 2008, 2020 has presented an entirely different feeling heading into deployment because of a lack of gatherings and no school to let people know what is going on.
“I got warning about a possible deployment earlier this year, but with that you can’t plan on that being an absolute,” Trudeau said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic there was also talk of no deployment, but now it’s official.”
Operation Inherent Resolve is the U.S. military’s operational name for the intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Trudeau will be one of five deployed from the 156th Information Operations Battalion.
While teaching and raising a family, Trudeau has had to train and take trips for a week or two at a time. As the United States has seen sustained operations in theatres across the world, the military has ended up using more and more Guard units with the peak of use coming during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Trudeau started out based out of Fairchild Air Force Base, but now does a bulk of his Guard duties out of Joint Base Lewis McChord just out of Tacoma.
The last time he was deployed, it was with 3,000 soldiers from his brigade. This time around, there are just five. Trudeau did say that when you have deployment experience, it’s easier to prepare and get things in order.
Trudeau joined the Army National Guard his freshman year of college at WSU and after doing basic training the summer before his sophmore year, he joined the ROTC program.
In 2006, he received his commission in the Guard and began teaching in the Fall of 2007 at Chewelah.
The Chewelah School District will hire a temporary replacement for Trudeau during his one-year absence, and while he said he will miss his students for the year he is deployed, the timing works out well.
“It matches up with the school year with me leaving in the fall and coming back before the next school year, so that means its not like I’m deployed half a school year and then come back,” Trudeau said, adding he appreciates the school district supporting the music program and his position while he is deployed.”
This is how things matched up last time he was deployed in 2008, but the big difference now is he has a family of four.
“I am preparing more and researching more,” wife Kellie Trudeau said. “I am a band teacher’s wife and now I am a military wife so I’m learning some things for the first time.”
Both Joe and Kellie said when you learn about a deployment it takes a while to adjust realizing that you’ll be gone for a period of time.
“Joe is my teammate in raising four kids,” Kellie said. “And now that teammate will be gone overseas.”
The parents have prepared their four kids about the deployment, but with the age of their kids it may not fully sink in until Joe is gone for a period of time. Kellie said the focus will be also making sure the kids have a normal school year in the fall, despite things not being normal with the ongoing pandemic and the deployment of their father.
“As a family we try to be self-sufficient and make sure, we have enough supplies and have a plan for when something like the power goes out,” Joe said.
The Trudeaus also help organize the local Cub Scout Pack 998, and help out in other ways in the community.
“We tried to let everybody know once we knew for sure but it has been difficult with the pandemic,” Joe said. “You’re not seeing people as much. The community, however, have been really supportive and happy to help the family while I’m gone.”
Deployment will be made easier by the advancement in technology. Now troops can call with their iPhone or use the internet to get in touch with their families. This technology wasn’t nearly as advanced in 2008, and it is obviously way more advanced than the pre-internet era.
“With Facetime, email and messages, I won’t feel totally alone,” Kellie said. “We’re just going to have to adjust to the new normal and make it a positive experience for the kids. We really appreciate the community support.”