While in Iraq, Tanya received an email from her lawyer saying her ex-husband was suing her for custody of their now 8-year-old son. "It was like someone ripping my heart out," she says. "If I had known what me going over to Iraq was going to do to my family, I would have done everything that I could have to try to get out of a deployment."
Before Tanya could get home, the judge made a decision. The court ruled that both Tanya and her ex-husband were good parents, but because Tanya's son had been living with his father for the past 18 months, the judge thought it was in his best interest to continue living with his father. Today, Tanya and her ex-husband share joint custody of their son—now 15 years old—but her ex-husband has physical custody.
Tanya says the only way she could have stayed home with her children is if she had dishonorably discharged herself. "But I didn't think that I needed to do that," she says. "I was serving my country. I didn't think I was going to be penalized."