Fitzgerald - - A 26 year old single mother of two is cherishing her time with her children in Fitzgerald. She's heading back to Iraq Friday morning to complete a 10 month Army deployment and her tour in Iraq could be extended.
Private First Class Lisa Fulford hasn't been able to do this in more than a year. She came home for a two week vacation that is now coming to an end.
She returns to Iraq Friday morning.
"It's gonna be hard. It's gonna be at least six more months until I see them again, maybe longer."
While home, Fulford has spent much of her time just being mom to her six year old son Seth and 8 year old daughter Kayla. When she's away, Fulford's mother takes care of the children.
"When she feels sad she will say I miss my mommy and she comes and gets in my arms and I hold her," says Sheila Carswell.
Grandmother's embrace fills the temporary void. The Internet provides a source for communication. They email pictures back and forth and when Fulford can't come to the phone, she uses instant messenger to type back and forth.
"I leave my speakers on loud because if she can get on, she can make the little sound. I run in there every chance I get so I can talk to her."
Her mother periodically sends care packages to Fulford - full of soup, fabric softener, chap stick - the essentials that are hard to come by overseas.
The soldier is also treated by the Iraqis.
"People over there are very friendly. They know that we go into their house to search and raid all of their stuff and they're just as friendly. They offer us food, cookies, tea," Fulford says.
She feels the picture in Iraq isn't all bad.
"They know that we're there and we're trying to help them."
It's what makes her proud to serve, even though she's leaving her two children behind. In a way, she says, she's fighting for them.
"Because I believe in what we're doing and for future wars, I don't want my kids to have to go there. To make it safer for them."
Kayla made a welcome back sign for her mother when she came home two weeks ago. Now it's time to leave once more. And though it may be a sad time for this close knit family, the combination of love and sacrifice make it all worth it.
"The moms. You've got to really admire and respect what they're doing. They're trying for a better future for themselves and their children," Carswell says.
Private First Class Lisa Fulford recently re-enlisted and plans to make the military her career. She's scheduled to leave Iraq in June, but she says her deployment could be extended.