Sgt. 1st Class Jason Rodney, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with the the 82nd Sustainment Brigade – U.S. Central Command Material Recovery Element and his wife Sgt. 1st Class Dilennys Rodney, a unit supply specialist also with the 82nd SB CMRE, pose next to an Air Force fighter jet at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 12, 2013. (Special Photo)
Communication. Openness. Understanding. These are key ingredients to any successful marriage but they are particularly important when it comes to trying to maintain a marriage while both spouses are in the military, according to Sgt. 1st Class Jason Rodney and his wife of five years Sgt. 1st Class Dilennys Rodney.
“She’s there for me and I’m there for her. We do everything together,” said Jason Rodney in an interview from Afghanistan, where he and his wife are now stationed.
The Rodneys are currently deployed with the 82nd Sustainment Brigade — U.S. Central Command Material Recovery Element to Kandahar, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Jason Rodney is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, and is trained to advise the senior commander in the event of a chemical attack. He is also a master fitness trainer for the troops and travels throughout the region leading fitness classes for the soldiers.
“Just like in the civilian world, not everyone is a self-starter. Everyone needs that little push, even the ones that are in shape, I keep them in better shape and give them the tools to use with limited equipment. I also advise them on nutrition and that’s exciting to me because that’s my passion. That’s what I want to do. I’m kind of a fitness guru,” said Rodney, 36, a Redan High School graduate whose parents, George and Marjorie Rodney, along with his sister and nephew, live in Covington.
Dilennys Rodney, 35, is a logistics coordinator in charge of supplies such as food and equipment for the troops. She also teaches fitness classes when her husband is out traveling to other bases.
The two met while deployed in Iraq in 2005. At the time, Jason Rodney managed an airport there and booked a flight for his future wife. They made friends but the romance hadn’t blossomed yet.
A year later, they became reacquainted on a military base in Kentucky. The two fell in love and began a long-distance relationship of sorts as both of them moved around the states to different locations.
Finally, they realized that the only way they’d ever have a chance of being stationed close to each other would be if they tied the knot. They did just that on Valentine’s Day 2009.
“We decided we had been dating for long enough and we wanted to be together,” said Rodney.
The couple said that the military makes an effort to keep them in the same location, though Jason Rodney did deploy for a year to Afghanistan in 2010-11. When he returned, the couple settled at Fort Bragg, N. C. where they had a daughter. Seven months ago, the couple deployed together to Iraq.
The most challenging part of being deployed is not so much maintaining their relationship as coping with being away from their children, said the Rodneys. The couple’s baby daughter is cared for by Dilennys’ parents in the Dominican Republic, and family members in the U.S. care for Jason Rodney’s three children from another marriage, as well as Dilennys’ son, also from a previous marriage.
“There are things happening in their lives and we’re here and we’re not going to get back those things we miss,” said Rodney. “That’s hard to deal with at times.”
Jason Rodney joined the military in 1999 and his wife signed on in 1998. They figure they can retire from the military in a few more years and still have time to build second careers, if they choose.
Meanwhile, the couple is well aware of the risks associated with being in Afghanistan.
“Overall, it’s a combat zone. Things are they way they are. We train and make sure we’re ready on any occasion,” said Rodney.
Jason and Dilennys Rodney said their love for each other and a strong faith in God carry them through.
“Me and my wife go to church. We’re Christian and we put God first in everything we do,” said Rodney.