The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #77: Behind Family Lines

Darlene Martinez’s childhood dream was to be in the military. Her dad was in the special forces during Desert Storm, and she thought his uniform was just *the best*. She treasured the letters he sent while he was away on secret missions. And trinkets like this uniformed teddy bear, which she still keeps in a box.


At sixteen years old, Darlene got her dad to take her to the local Army recruiting office and sign her up. (Sixteen is too young to enlist, yourself, so she needed her dad to sign a waiver.) She got married young, too. At nineteen. And soon after that, she discovered she was pregnant. But it quickly became clear that her marriage wasn’t working out, and Darlene was going to be a single mom.

And then, three months after giving birth, Darlene was deployed to Iraq. She was given only 48 hours notice, so she had to figure out what to do with her daughter, and fast.

Darlene with her first daughter, Crystal

Darlene with her first daughter, Crystal

Darlene with her three children: Robert, Crystal, and Kaylee

Darlene with her three children: Robert, Crystal, and Kaylee

Since then, Darlene has had two more children—both with relationships that didn’t last. Tune in to hear what it’s like to be pregnant, breastfeed, and raise kids on your own in the Army. Oh, and to get shot in the back. Twice.

Hear more stories about the military
Big thanks to Meredith Turk for helping us find Darlene through her project Homefront: Fort Drum, about one of the most deployed Army units in the country. Homefront: Fort Drum is in collaboration with North Country Public Radio, The Association of Independents in Radio, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

What impact has the military had on YOUR family?
Maybe you’ve been in the military? Or your spouse? Maybe you were a military brat? Or your kid has been friends with one? Tell your story; talk to each other. Down below.

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