If you wonder what that means for them and their kids, check out today's Washington Post.
When they called her name, she could not move. Sgt. Leana Nishimura intended to walk up proudly, shake the dignitaries' hands and accept their honors for her service in Iraq-- a special coin, a lapel pin, a glass-encased U.S. flag.There's much more. It's time to bring them home. Along with everyone else.
But her son clung to her leg. He cried and held tight, she recalled. And so Nishimura stayed where she was, and the ceremony last summer went on without her. T.J. was 9, her oldest child, and although eight months had passed since she had returned from the war zone, he was still upset by anything that reminded him of her deployment.
He remembered the long separation. The faraway move to live with his grandmother. The months that went by without his mother's kisses or hugs, without her scrutiny of homework, her teasing humor, her familiar bedtime songs.
Nishimura was a single mother -- with no spouse to take over, to preserve her children's routines, to keep up the family apartment.
Of her three children, T.J. seemed to worry most. He sent letter after letter to the war zone, where she was a communications specialist, part of the Maryland National Guard.
"He went from having one parent to having no parents, basically," Nishimura said, reflecting, "People have said, 'Thank you so much for your sacrifice.' But it's the children who have had more of a sacrifice."