Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Father’s deployments challenge Utah teen, but help her find her voice

Father’s Day » Daughter says deployed dad is more appreciative of family.

First Published Jun 16 2013 12:46 am • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:33 pm

Lynnzie Leavitt celebrated her 12th birthday in 2005 without her father.

"He actually landed in Iraq on my birthday," the 19-year-old recalls. "I remember he sent me an e-mail because he couldn’t be there."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

That was Utah National Guard Staff Sgt. Jeff Leavitt’s first deployment overseas. When he returned 15 months later, things were different, his daughter said.

"I just wasn’t as much of a little kid," she said. "I was more independent."

Jeff Leavitt’s second deployment — a 12-month stint in Afghanistan — came in 2008, when Lynnzie was 16. When he returned she had become her mother’s right hand around the house, was driving, serving on a National Guard youth board and was making plans for college and beyond. She had earned her mother’s trust, she said, but she and Dad clashed a bit over small things, such as her lack of a curfew.

"He had a hard time," said Lynnzie Leavitt, who believes her father came home more "serious" but also more appreciative of his family.

A guardsman since 1997, Jeff Leavitt has missed birthdays and other milestones, including Father’s Day celebrations and about 12 wedding anniversaries, by wife Kassie Leavitt’s count. But the absences have also drawn the family closer, Lynnzie Leavitt said.

Jeff Leavitt agrees.

"It woke me up a little bit to what I had at home and what I needed to take care of," Jeff Leavitt said of deployment. "Some people, deployment changes their lives for the worse and for some people it changes for the better."

That’s not to say everything was easy. Kids of deployed parents take on more responsibilities, and news reports can bring shots of fear and uncertainty. All three of the Leavitt kids have had to grow up faster and worried about things most kids don’t, Lynnzie Leavitt said.


story continues below
story continues below

"When they are deployed, you get into a rhythm of that. You almost have to forget what’s happening," she said. "I think I was holding myself back from being happy a lot."

Still, the University of Utah student said she wouldn’t give up the experience.

"It’s pushed me to do a lot of things I had never thought I would, " she said. "It’s made me more outgoing, because ... through my dad’s service I’ve have had a lot of opportunities."

Lynnzie Leavitt has served as president of a Utah National Guard youth group and has mentored other guard kids. Now she’s bent on a career as a psychologist, specifically working with families struggling to cope with post traumatic stress disorder.

She also wants to help civilians better understand the challenges military families face.

"I think one of the hardest parts of being a military kid is that you’re not always surrounded by other people that are necessarily aware or sensitive to what’s going on. It’s hard to listen to that," she said. "I understand. It’s been a long war ... But what my dad did is important. It may not seem relevant to daily life in Utah, but it’s important in the context of the rest of the world."

jdobner@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jenniferdobner



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.